To abolish, do away with, or annul, especially by authority.
One of the most salient passages in the Qur’an is 2:106, which shows us the basis for the doctrine of abrogation:
“We do not abrogate a verse or cause it to be forgotten except when we bring forth one better than earlier or similar verse. Do you not know that Allah is over all things competent?”
Abrogation has an impact on the arguments about the true nature of Islam. At endless interfaith dialogues, the early tolerant verses are quoted to show the nature of Islam as being peaceful. When both verses are mentioned, and then abrogation is applied, we see that the later violent verses trump the earlier tolerant ones. Jihad abrogates tolerance. In general, the Medina Quran abrogates the Meccan Quran. Several verses of tolerance are abrogated by jihad against Christians.
But the earlier verse is still acceptable and in use. Abrogation does not negate the early verse. Indeed, the earlier “peaceful” verse that is abrogated is most apt to be used in public discourse.
This creates a logical problem since if two things contradict each other, at least one must be false. This is a fundamental element of Western unitary logic. In Quranic reason, two statements can contradict each other, and both are true. This is dualistic logic.
Simply put, Allah changes revelations as he pleases, and the latter revelations supersede the earlier ones. There are deviations among Muslim theologians regarding which verses have been abrogated and replaced, but the overall idea has been clear. When Muslims are weak and in a minority position, they should behave peacefully according to the Meccan passages (which reflect the early time when Muhammad was vulnerable and building his power base). When strong, they are obligated to wage war, according to the later Medina passages.
An alternative explanation is that the early verse is the first stage in a process, like a seed, and the later verse is the second stage, like a plant.
There is truth to this, but the process model does not consider that both truths are available simultaneously. Returning to the analogy, you don’t have the seed and the plant simultaneously. The verses contradict each other and are both true at the same time. Again, this is dualistic logic. The contradictions are usually explained by abrogation, the classical doctrine, but the principle of abrogation is limited to the Quran. Duality includes the particular case of abrogation and describes how the entire philosophy of the Quran and Sunna works. It is not just the Quran that is contradictory, but the Sunna.
Another dualistic aspect of Islam is its ethics. One of the chief features of Islam is the doctrine of the kefir (unbeliever). It treats them dreadfully and horribly. No one would ever want to be treated as a kefir is treated in the Trilogy. This leads us to the Golden Rule. There is no Golden Rule in Islam because of the division of humanity into believers and kefir. The Golden Rule is to treat all people as you would be treated. Since no one wants to be treated like a kefir, and the kefir is so central to Islamic doctrine, it proves that Islam has no Golden Rule. Islam has one set of rules for Muslims and another for kefirs. This is dualistic ethics.
We are told that it is only civil to respect or at least tolerate other peoples’ beliefs, even if you disagree with them — a live-and-let-live attitude. As a general principle, this position is admirable. Yet there are exceptions. A case in point is when people say consumers believe what they want. I disagree with letting Muslims believe what they want to think when they hold that I, as a non-Muslim, have no right to live. Or if I am to live, I must live a life subservient to Muslims. And wherever they are in power in the world, Muslims do everything they can to make non-believers’ lives dreadful and deadly.
I don’t tolerate these beliefs and practices, in the same vein as I reject fascism and all other exclusionary oppressive systems of belief.
As they say, tolerating evil is not tolerance; it is a crime.
©2023. Amil Imani. All rights reserved.