IS ALLAH'S WORD ABROGATED?
Allah's Word is one of the primary foundations upon which
a man of faith builds his life. Allah's Word sent through different
prophets at different times is a priceless treasure beyond compare.
Those who study it, understand it, and obey it, experience Allah's
peace and His blessing in all aspects of their lives. Being Allah's
Word and not man's, Scripture is eternal and not able to be corrupted
or changed. As we saw in the last lesson, Scripture clearly teaches
that it is Allah Himself who guards and protects His Word from
any possibility of error or falsehood creeping in. Those who
have studied Allah's Word freely admit Allah is both able and
does protect His Word from any kind of corruption.
Even those who believe Allah keeps His Word from error and
change, however, sometimes make another equally serious charge.
It is claimed that parts of Allah's Word have been outdated,
made obsolete or abrogated. Such an argument is sometimes made
in the form of a comparison between the various prophets and
a country's successive rulers. It is claimed that as long as
a ruler lives, his laws are binding and enforced. At his death,
however, power passes on to a new ruler who decrees and enforces
a new and different set of rules and laws.
It is then claimed that the same is true of Allah's messengers,
the prophets, and the Scriptures they brought. One prophet comes
bringing one set of laws. After his death, another prophet appears
with a new set of laws that supersede the previous set. By such
reasoning, it is insisted that we need only concern ourselves
with the latest and most recent of the prophets. All others we
may safely ignore. Yet, is this reasoning legitimate?
This is a very serious and important matter. If the above
theory is false, then those who follow it are actually ignoring
a great part of Allah's revelation to mankind. Worse, they are
committing a terrible act of sin by turning their backs on and
rejecting Allah, for it is Allah who sent His Word and commanded
us to study and obey it. If we reject as outdated parts of Allah's
Word when such is not the case, then we are guilty of a fearful
act of disobedience and face a frightening judgment one day.
It can be clearly demonstrated that the above abrogation theory
is not true. Let us look at some of the more obvious reasons
First, it is not true because it tries to compare things that
are totally different. It compares earthly rulers with Allah's
prophet, and earthly rules and regulations with Allah's Law.
Such a comparison is totally inaccurate and misleading. The prophets
were messengers sent from Allah to man with a divine message.
Human rulers, by contrast, seek to establish and enforce their
own rules and ideas of good and bad. The prophets, by contrast,
were not the originators of their message; they were merely the
means of communication. It is Allah who establishes His message
and Law, not the prophets. The prophets are like the ambassadors
and heralds under the rule of a king. Such men come and go; but
while the king lives, the laws communicated through them remain
unchanged and in force.
A prophet, therefore, can in no way be compared with a human
ruler or king. Nor can Allah be compared to such. Allah's rule
and reign is eternal and unchanging, a stark contrast to the
ever-changing human rulers and authorities. And just as Allah
is eternal and unchanging, so His rule is the same. Thus, while
His messengers, the prophets, came and went, the message they
conveyed is eternal and unchanging because its source is Allah,
not man. For that reason, those who ignore or disregard any of
Allah's Word as outdated make a foolish and serious mistake.
They turn their backs on Allah and show disrespect for His priceless
We have just seen how the prophets were the messengers of
Allah's eternal message and not the originators of their own
message. This has several implications. First, since they were
but messengers, there could be more than one prophet living at
the same time in the same area. A human ruler will not allow
another ruler to encroach on his territory. To have more than
one ruler at the same place and same time invariably means war
until one has established supremacy and is in absolute control.
The prophets had no such desire or need.
For example, the prophet Isa and the prophet (pbuh) lived and worked in Palestine at the same time. They
knew and had contact with one another. Yet, far from fighting
one another and seeking to establish their own rules, they cooperated
with one another and the messages each conveyed from Allah complemented
that of the other's. In the same way, at an earlier period, we
find the prophet , , and all living at the same time and
in the same area. Yet, again they did not battle one another
in an attempt to establish their own rule or authority, but rather
complemented one another through their message and work.
The above arguments for the eternal relevance of Allah's Word
can be supported by a simple examination of that Word. For example,
in the , we find one of the most famous and well known of
the laws ever given by Allah to man. That Law was given to Prophet
on the mountain almost 4,000 years ago and consists of the ten
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
- And Allah spoke all these words:"I am Allah your
God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
- "You shall have no other gods before me.
- "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form
of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the
waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them;
for I, Allah your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children
for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation
of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations
of those who love me and keep my commandments.
- "You shall not misuse the name of Allah your God,
for Allah will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
- "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six
days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh
day is a Sabbath to Allah your God. On it you shall not do
any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant
or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.
11 For in six days Allah made the heavens and the earth, the
sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.
Therefore Allah blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
- "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may
live long in the land Allah your God is giving you.
- "You shall not murder.
- "You shall not commit adultery.
- "You shall not steal.
- "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
- "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall
not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant,
his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
Now if, as some insist, Allah's earlier revelations are obsolete
or abrogated, then we no longer need to obey the above commands.
Thus, we may worship many gods. We may make images and bow down
to them. We may dishonor our parents, lie, steal and commit adultery.
We may do all these things because the laws forbidding such are
now obsolete. Of course, such is ridiculous! The above laws given
to 4,000 years ago are still in effect today and will remain
in effect throughout all eternity. This is true because they
are based on Allah's character and the nature of the world as
He created it. Thus, like Allah Himself, those rules are eternal
That the above is true is also seen from the testimony of
the prophets themselves. As we have already seen, the prophets
were not in competition with each other, but built on and complemented
one another's message. Those who hold to the abrogation theory,
however, would have us believe just the opposite. Thus, for example,
with the coming of and the giving of the , those people
would tell us that earlier Scriptures such as the and
became abrogated and obsolete. The error of such a claim is obvious
to anyone who has at all studied Scripture.
Thus, Isa the Messiah never claimed to set up his own rule
or system, nor did he claim that what he taught made previous
messengers obsolete. Rather, Isa taught just the opposite. Isa said, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law
or the Prophets: I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For
truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the
smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law until
all is accomplished." (Matthew 5:17,18) Isa's teaching
did not abrogate earlier Scriptures, but rather built on its
foundation and fulfilled and completed them. We find the same
clear teaching elsewhere.
In the we find other such passages as the following:
All Scripture is given by inspiration of Allah and suitable
for reproof, for correction, for teaching, for instruction in
2 Timothy 3:16
Here we find no distinction drawn between one revelation and
another. All Scripture is given by Allah, and as such it is all
suited for our teaching and instruction.
We find similar passages in the Quran. Nowhere is there any
indication that the , or are abrogated. To the
contrary, we find clear passages teaching the opposite. Thus:
We caused Isa, son of , to follow in their footsteps,
confirming that which was before him, and We bestowed on him
the wherein is guidance and a light, confirming that which
was before it in the , a guidance and an admonition unto
those who ward off evil.
Later in the same Sura we find the following,
Say: O people of the Scripture. Ye have naught of guidance
till ye observe the and the and that which was revealed
unto you from the Lord.
These passages agree completely with the passages from the
we examined earlier. Allah's Word, like Allah Himself,
is eternal and unchanging. As such, one Scripture builds upon,
confirms and complements another; it does not abrogate or make
Why do we place such importance on this issue? The reason
is clear for those who understand the purpose of Scripture. Allah
gave His Word to guide and instruct mankind. It teaches man how
to live and how to relate to his family, his society, his neighbors
and to Allah. That is the purpose of all Scriptures. Now, some
Scriptures emphasize primarily one aspect or area of instruction
and omit others. Yet, all Scripture taken together reveals the
entire scope of Allah's guidance in all areas of importance to
man. Now, if we ignore or reject certain Scriptures, then we
will be rejecting teaching that may very well not be available
anywhere else. Further, we may have cut ourselves off from the
very foundation and basic instruction which would have made later
Scriptures understandable. Let us look at a simple illustration.
There was once a man who had neither a college degree nor
a high school diploma. In fact, he had never been to school a
day in his life. He could neither read nor write. Yet, he knew
that those who graduated from the local medical college were
made doctors and he had always longed to be a doctor. He thus
wrote to the medical college principal and asked to be admitted
as a student so that he, too, could become a doctor.
How we laugh at the above simple-minded man. How quickly we
realize his foolishness in thinking he would be able to understand
and use the information taught in medical college when he had
ignored the foundation upon which those things were built. Yet,
tragically, how often we attempt to do the same in the religious
realm. When it comes to the far more serious and important matter
of Allah's Word, how quick we are to say this or that revelation
is obsolete or no longer necessary. By so doing we cut ourselves
off from the very foundation of teachings which makes Allah's
Word understandable. Such a terrible error prevents us from ever
adequately understanding Allah's message.
As we close, let us just look again at the very important
passage from Allah's Word quoted in part above:
All Scripture is given by inspiration of Allah and is suitable
for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness.
That the man of Allah may be complete, thoroughly furnished unto
every good work.
It is our prayer that this verse might become a reality in
your life. That you might study and follow all of Allah's Word
so that you would be "complete and thoroughly furnished unto
all good work."
The first nine questions below are multiple choice. Simply press
the button by the statement you feel best answers the question.
Question ten asks you to put down your own ideas. Answer it truthfully
and to the best of your knowledge.
1. Those who claim Allah's Word can be abrogated or become
obsolete compare a prophet to:
An earthly ruler or king.
b. A master craftsman.
c. A wise teacher.
2. The prophets instituted:
Their own message and rules.
b. Another person's
message and rules.
c. The message and
rules of Allah, the eternal and unchanging One.
3. A prophet might more accurately be compared to:
The king himself.
of a king.
c. The ambassador
or herald of a king.
4. Which of the following prophets lived at the same time?
Adam and Musa.
b. Isa and
c. Dawud and Ibrahim.
5. Which of the ten commandments given to 4,000 years
ago are now abrogated or obsolete?
All of them.
b. A few of them.
c. None of them.
6. Isa the Messiah taught that he had come to:
Abolish the earlier Scriptures.
b. Fulfill the earlier
c. Ignore the earlier
7. According to Allah's Word, how much of Scripture is for
our use today?
8. According to the Quran, the :
Abrogates the .
b. Is a guidance
and light confirming the .
c. Is now abrogated
and not for our use.
9. The man who wanted to become a doctor was foolish because:
Ignoring the foundational and basic instruction, he felt he could
understand medical studies.
b. He should have
become a teacher instead of a doctor.
c. He sent in his
application to the wrong school.
10. What would you say to someone who claimed one or more
of Allah's Word has been abrogated or outdated?