Allah’s Eternal Word
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 It is claimed that parts of Allah’s Word have been outdated, made obsolete or abrogated.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 If we reject as outdated parts of Allah’s Word when such is not the case, then we are guilty of a fearful act of disobedience and face a frightening judgment one day.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 below.
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 gift.
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 Yahya (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 Ishaq, Ismail, and Yaqub 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 Taurat, 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 Musa on the mountain almost 4,000 years ago and consists of the ten following commands:
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 Musa 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 and unchanging.
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 ‘Isa al-Masih and the giving of the Injil, those people would tell us that earlier Scriptures such as the Taurat and Zabur 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 Injil 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 righteousness.
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 Taurat, Zabur or Injil are abrogated. To the contrary, we find clear passages teaching the opposite. Thus:
We caused Isa, son of Maryam, to follow in their footsteps, confirming that which was before him, and We bestowed on him the Injil wherein is guidance and a light, confirming that which was before it in the Taurat, 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 Taurat and the Injil and that which was revealed unto you from the Lord.
These passages agree completely with the passages from the Injil 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 obsolete.
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:
a. An earthly ruler or king.
b. A master craftsman.
c. A wise teacher.
2. The prophets instituted:
a. 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:
a. The king himself.
b. The chief steward of a king.
c. The ambassador or herald of a king.
4. Which of the following prophets lived at the same time?
a. Adam and Musa.
b. Isa and Yayha.
c. Dawud and Ibrahim.
5. Which of the ten commandments given to Musa 4,000 years ago are now abrogated or obsolete?
a. All of them.
b. A few of them.
c. None of them.
6. Isa the Messiah taught that he had come to:
a. Abolish the earlier Scriptures.
b. Fulfill the earlier Scripture.
c. Ignore the earlier Scriptures.
7. According to Allah’s Word, how much of Scripture is for our use today?
8. According to the Quran, the Injil:
a. Abrogates the Taurat.
b. Is a guidance and light confirming the Taurat.
c. Is now abrogated and not for our use.
9. The man who wanted to become a doctor was foolish because:
a. 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?