Islamic Jurisprudence (Usul Al Fiqh): Naskh
By Shah Abdul Hannan

Naskh (Abrogation)

Naskh literally means obliteration. Naskh has been defined as the suspension or replacement of one Shariah ruling by another.  Naskh operates only in law, not in beliefs. Naskh operates only when,  (i) two evidences are of equal strength, (ii) they are present in 2 separate texts, (iii) there is genuine conflict which can not be reconciled, and (iv) the two texts are of two timeframe (one is later to the other).

     There are scholars who do not agree that there is abrogation in the Quran (Ref: Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence by Dr. Hashim Kamali,  Chapter on Naskh). They say that in Ayat 2 : 106 and 16 : 106, reference of "Ayah" is not to abrogation within the Quran but abrogation of earlier scriptures by the Quran. They also say that the 'so-called' conflict in the Quran can all be reconciled.  Muhammad Asad has also mentioned in his Tafsir that there is no Naskh in the Quran.  Abdul Hamid Abu Suleman feels that it was wrong on the part of earlier Ulama to turn Naskh into  a doctrine of permanent validity instead of understanding it as the circumstance of history.  (Ref. Islamic Theory of International Relations,   a IIIT's publication). Abu Suleman suggests that Naskh's application should be limited to clear cases only such as change of Qiblah.

     According to the majority, there is Naskh in the Quran and the Sunnah. According to majority, Ijma can not abrogate a ruling of the Quran and the Sunnah. Qiyas can not repeal a text of the Quran or the Sunnah. Abrogation may be explicit (sarih) or implicit (dimni). According to Imam Shafii, there are two types of Naskh - (a) Naskh of Quran by Quran and (b) Naskh of Sunnah by Sunnah.

     According to majority there are 4 types of Naskh : (i) Quran by Quran, (ii) Quran by Sunnah, (iii) Sunnah by Quran, (iv) Sunnah by Sunnah. There is also another  classification : (i)  Naskh al Hukm, (ii) Naskh al Qiraah, and   (iii) Naskh al Hukm Wal Tilwah.  Naskh al Hukm means that ruling has been abrogated but the text remains. Naskh al Qiraah means that the text has been abolished but the ruling remains. In Naskh al Hukm wal Tilwah, both the text and rulings are treated as abrogated.  Of the above three, Nakh al Hukm has some basis but the other two have very weak basis. Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi has explained in his "Rasail wa Masail” (Letters and Issues), why Naskh al Qiraah is not acceptable?

     There is difference between Naskh (abrogation) and Takhsis (specification or qualification of a general text).  There is no real conflict in Takhsis. Another issue is whether addition (Tazid) amounts to abrogation. The majority answer is negative, which is correct.  On the whole, I think the views of Dr. Abu Suleman deserves serious consideration.

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