Radical Islamism and Jihad(30 Nov 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)
Refutation of Jihadi Ideology That Justifies Terrorism in 21st Century: Did the ‘Sword Verse’ 9:5 Really Abrogate Verses of Peace and Forbearance? Part -5



By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam

30 November 2019

When the terrorist militants of ‘ISIS’ captured the Iraqi region of Sinjar in the so-called Wilayat Ninawa in 2014, they justified their merciless action against the Yazidis by using what is known as the “sword-verse” (Ayat Al-Saif). They treated the population of Yazidis as “a pagan minority existent for ages in regions of Iraq and Sham” and argued that the Muslims will be asked on the day of Judgment as to why there is “continual existence of the Yazidis” and why they did not act upon the revelation about Mushrikin in “the Ayat as-Sayf (the verse of the sword) over 1400 years ago” (Dabiq Magazine, Issue 4, September-October 2014, p.13). The magazine then quotes the Quranic verse “kill the Mushrikin wherever you find them” (9:5) and urges its followers to kill the Yazids as “being among the Mushrikin”.

The Quranic verse 9:5, according to ISIS and other Jihadist ideologues, has permanently abrogated the Quranic verses of peace, forbearance and all treaties of peace. It is for this reason that they believe all Mushrikin including “the Yazidis” and the “Sufi-oriented Muslims” must be killed, otherwise, they think, it will make them accountable to God on the Day of Judgment.   

In the previous four parts we have seen what is the reasonable interpretation and contextual analysis of the Quranic verse 9:5 through several jurisprudential angles. In this part, we will present how the concept of abrogation is misapplied by the Jihadist ideologues and what is wrong with them when they say that the verse 9:5 has abrogated verses of peace and forbearance.

There is huge difference between the Mutaqaddemin (the early jurists) and the Mutakhkhirin (the later jurists) on the technical definition of the word ‘Naskh’ (abrogation). An investigation made by Shah Waliullah Muhaddis Dehlvi into the speech of the Companions (Sahaba) and their Followers (Tabiun) is that they used to apply the word ‘abrogation’ in a much broader sense than those who later appeared as the technicians (Usuliyeen) and whose definition was taken by the later jurists.

According to the early jurists, Abrogation/Naskh means the removal of some attributes of any ruling by ruling of other verse, for several reasons mentioned below;

•        To indicate that the time for acting upon the abrogated verse has come to an end,

•        To speak of diversion of the speech from the unexpected meaning (Ghairmutabadir) to the expected one (Mutabadir)

•        To denote the particularisation of the general ruling, where a verse does not contradict but gives specification with regard to the general ruling of another verse

•        To explain what differentiates the textual (Mansus) and the one this is plainly analogical

•        To suggest the permanent abrogation of customs of pagan Arabs or the Preceding Shariat

•        To imply the disappearance of the causes or circumstances behind the ruling, its sabab, or illah (“effective legal cause”)

•        To denote the temporary abrogation in absence of the effective legal cause for which the injunction was mainly revealed    

In short, the word Abrogation, as Shah Waliullah states, was comprehensively used by the early jurists and it was the reason why the early Mufassirin (exegetes and commentators of the Quran) took the number of the abrogated verses to as many as five hundred.

On the contrary, the later jurists (Mutakhkhirin) rejected the broader definition of Naskh and as a result the number of the abrogated verses was reduced to very few.

The studies of researches made by Qazi Abu Bakr Ibn Arabi, Allama Jalaluddin Suyuti in Al-Itqan and Shah Waliullah Dehlvi in Al-Fauz al-Kabir also suggest that the reason why there was such huge difference in the number of abrogated verses was merely a result of technical use of the word ‘Naskh’ because the later jurists adopted a very confined meaning of the Naskh made by the Usuliyeen (technicians). The technical and confined definition of the word ‘Naskh’ taken by Shah Waliullah Dehlvi was the reason that urged him to finally place the number of abrogated verses at only five.

However as per the technical assessment applied by Shah Waliullah Dehlvi, there appeared a minority of classical scholars who opined that if the same assessment is made with more depth, there could be no verses in the Quran which can be termed abrogated. For instance, Abu Muslim al-Isfahani (d.934/1527) had gone so far as to say that abrogation, as a technical concept defined by the mainstream classical legal tradition, does not actually exist and the apparently conflicting rulings can be reconciled. This view of Isfahani was rejected by other classical scholars, for instance, according to Allama Alusi, “the people belonging to all Shariahs unanimously accepted the validity of Naskh. However only the Jews with exception of their Isawiyya sect denied the possibility of abrogation and Abu Muslim al-Isfahani has denied its occurrence, for he says that it is rationally possible, but has not actually taken place” (Ruh al-Ma’ani). Imam Qurtubi states, “It is essential to understand the question of abrogation and great benefits are achieved through such an understanding, which no scholar can dispense with, and no one can deny abrogation except the ignorant and the dull-headed”.  

As we have earlier expressed that all this difference was purely the result of technical use of the word ‘Naskh’, it however does not leave any intellectual justification for anyone to condemn any of the early or later jurists. As regards the jihadist ideologues, they have failed to cover the proper and broader understanding of Naskh which was comprehensively taken by the ancient jurists and limitedly used by the technicians followed by modern jurists. This failure of jihadist ideologues caused a great corruption in their interpretation of the Quranic verses, especially the verses of war and peace.

With this preliminary inspection of the Naskh and without putting details here, let us concentrate on one of the important meanings of Naskh to deal with the peace and war-related verses. In this regard, we should also put in our mind that the early jurists used the word Naskh in comprehensive and general sense which includes both permanent abrogation of an injunction as well as temporary abrogation in an injunction, in addition to certain conditions, provisions or exceptions. The term ‘abrogation’ by the early jurists used for war and peace related verses denotes temporary abrogation or case of context and not permanent abrogation. This signifies that as per their general use of Naskh, the war-related verses are applicable in times of war, and the peace-related verses are applicable in times of peace or on the condition of peace-treaties.

As regards the technicians followed by modern jurists, only that abrogation is to be called an abrogation or naskh which cannot in any way be brought in consonance with an earlier injunction. With this definition, we can see that specification and contextual application can be easily made between the war and peace related verses and thereby these verses, according to the later jurists, cannot be classified as abrogating or abrogated verses. However at the same time, if it is classified as the same, it is possible only when we adopt the general definition of Naskh taken by the early jurists, but here too we find that they must have meant ‘temporary abrogation’ and case of context in terms of the verses of war and peace.

To say here if there is difference between the early and later jurists, it is simply of technical use of abrogation. Thus from both sides, the jihadists can find no way to apply war-related verses to the present situation of peace mutually agreed upon by nearly all countriesin the world.  

Now let us examine some classical texts on the subject of abrogation related to the war and peace related verses.

With reference to texts of the early jurists, Ibn Kathir says, “This Ayah (9:5) is called the Ayah of the sword about which Dhahhak b. Mazahim said: “it abrogated every agreement of peace between the Prophet- peace be upon him- and any Mushrik, every treaty and every term”. Al-Awfi said that Ibn `Abbas commented on this verse (9:5): “No Mushrik had any more treaty or promise of safety ever since Surah Bara'ah(9thSura, also known as Surah Taubah) was revealed” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, vol 2, p 573)

Ibn Kathir also says,

ثم اختلف المفسرون في آية السيف هذه ، فقال الضحاك والسدي : هي منسوخة بقوله تعالى : ( فإما منا بعد وإما فداء ) [ محمد : 4 ] وقال قتادة بالعكس .

Translation: “Then the Mufasserin (exegetes) differed from one another on the Ayah of the sword (9:5). Dhahhak and Suddi said, “This Ayah (9:5) has been abrogated by the divine statement “...Then choose (to release them) either (as) a favour (shown to them) or (after receiving) ransom....” (47:4). However Qa’adah said the opposite [of what Dhahhak and Suddihad said].

In the above-mentioned passages, Ibn Kathir quoted Dhahhak b. Mazahim who was Tabeyi(among the second generation of Muslims who received Prophet Muhammad's teachings second hand from the companions) but whose reports, as per the researches of Imam Dhahbi, are considered weak (Dha’eef) by a class of Mufassirin and Muhaddisin including Yahya b. Saeed and Yahya al-Qittan. As per other reports Dhahhak was one of the prominent exegetes and jurists. (See. Imam Dhahbi, Siyar ‘Aalaam al-Nubala). Even if the quote of Dhahhak b. Mazahim taken by Ibn Kathir is supposed to be authentic, this does not make it clear that Dhahhak meant permanent abrogation of all agreements of peace to come. Since Dhahhak was one of the early jurists who took the term ‘abrogation’ in general sense to include both temporary and permanent abrogation. Hence from the quotes of Dhahhak and Ibn Abbas mentioned above, it can be deduced that they meant temporary abrogation of peace, as the situation was of war. It is more reasonable deduction for the reason that after the war ended, many other treaties of peace were made, even after the era of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and in the age of the rightly guided caliphs (Khulafa-E-Rashidun).

As per the later classical jurists (Mutakhkhirin), who associated an extremely confined definition with the word ‘Naskh’, the war-related verses did not abrogate the verses of peace and forbearance. Imam Jalaluddin Suyuti, Zarkashi etc substantiated the very idea in their respective masterful works on Sciences of Quran.

In his book “Al-Itqan fi Ulum al-Quran” which is regarded one of the masterful works on Sciences of Quran, Imam Suyuti explains that contrary to what some jurists believed, this verse 9:5 is not a case of abrogation but rather of context. In certain situations, verses of patience and forgiveness apply, while in others, fighting is necessary. He implies that no verse was totally terminated by another, but rather each has a specific context and applicability. Since Imam Suyuti had adopted a limited definition of abrogation different from those made by early jurists, he did not use the word ‘abrogation’ to express the case of context or temporary abrogation. In essence this view is not different from what was actually meant by the early jurists. The only difference is that the early jurists included meaning “case of context or temporary abrogation” in the general sense of the word ‘abrogation’. 

Imam Suyuti also quotes Allama Makki as saying “a group of jurists believe that the verse “But pardon them and overlook [their misdeeds]. Indeed, Allah loves the doers of good” (5:13) is Muhkam and not abrogated, because in such a divine statement there is a case of context and applicability” (Al-Itqan fi Ulum al-Quran, vol-2, pp.70-71). We have seen earlier that the case of context and applicability was expressed also by the early jurists but with the general sense of the word ‘naskh’.

The same understanding is reinforced by the prominent jurist and legal theorist Imam Zarkashi in his masterful work on the Sciences of Quran, “Al-Burhan fi Ulum al-Quran”. Referring to a number of Mufassirin, Imam Zarkashi explains one of the meanings of Naskh.  He writes,

الثالث: ما أمر به لسبب ثم يزول السبب، كالأمر حين الضعف والقلة بالصبر بالمغفرة للذين يرجون لقاء الله ونحوه من عدم إيجاب الأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر والجهاد ونحوها، ثم نسخه إيجاب ذالك. وهذا ليس بنسخ في الحقيقة، وإنما هو نسء، كما قال تعالى (أو ننسئها) فالمنسأ هو الأمر بالقتال، إلى أن يقوى المسلمون، وفي حال الضعف يكون الحكم وجوب الصبر على الأذى.

وبهذا التحقيق تبين ضعف ما لهج به كثير من المفسرين في الآيات الآمرة بالتخفيف أنها منسوخة بآية السيف، وليست كذالك بل هي من المنسأ، بمعنى أن كل أمر ورد يجب امتثاله في وقت ما لعلة توجب ذالك الحكم، ثم ينتقل بانتقال تلك العلة إلى حكم آخر، وليس بنسخ، إنما النسخ الإزالة حتى لا يجوز امتثاله أبدا. وإلى هذا أشار الشافعي في "الرسالة" إلى النهي عن ادخار لحوم الأضاحي من أجل الرأفة، ثم ورد الإذن فيه فلم يجعله منسوخا، بل من باب زوال الحكم لزوال علته، حتى لو فجأ أهل ناحية جماعة مضرورون تعلق بأهلها النهى.....ويعود هذان الحكمان – أعنى المسالمة عند الضعف والمسايقة عند القوة- بعود سببهما، وليس حكم المسايقة ناسخا لحكم المسالمة، بل كل منهما يجب امتثاله في وقته" (البرهان في علوم القرآن للزركشي ج 2، النوع الرابع والثلاثون، ص 42، مكتبة دار التراث، القاهرة)

The above-mentioned Arabic passage of Imam Zarkashi implies that many commentators (Mufassirin) took wrong understanding that the sword verse (9: 5) abrogated verses of patience and forbearance in early Makkan verses. The reason is that the “abrogation” entails a complete termination of a legal ruling, never to be implemented again. This, he avers, is not the case with such verses [of war and peace]. Instead each verse entails a particular ruling specific for a particular context. As circumstances change, different verses are to be applied instead of others. What is truly entailed by abrogation is that no ruling is eternally terminated. To substantiate his argument, Imam Zarkashi also gives an example from Imam Shafi’s “al-Risala” which can be seen in the referenced book.

Here Imam Zarkashi suggests that the war and peace related verses are applied as per the situation and context and therefore can’t be called abrogating or abrogated verses.

The conclusion of the above mentioned two masters of Quranic Sciences, Imam Zarkashi and Suyuti is that the verse 9:5 by no means abrogated the verses of peace and forbearance – rather, each verse needs to be implemented in its appropriate context.

The ruling of the verse 9:5 is a case of context and specification and not of ‘abrogation’ as defined by later jurists. This view is also supported by Imam Baydawi, Allama Alusi, Imam Abu Bakr Jassas and many others.

Al-Baydawi (d.685H) in his book “Anwar al-Tanzeelwa Asrar al-Taweel (The Lights of Revelation and the Secrets of Interpretation, V. 3, p. 71, 9:5- Arabic version)”, a classical tafsir which is included in madrasas of South Asian subcontinent, writes while interpreting the verse, "فاقتلوا المشركين (أي) الناكثين", which means that the word Mushrikin mentioned in the Ayah 9:5 refers to Nakithin, those who violated peace treaties by violating war against the Muslims.

Al-Alusi (d.1270H) in his “Rooh al-Ma’ani (v. 10, p. 50, - 9:5, Arabic version), another classical book of Tafsir, writes,

على هذا فالمراد بالمشركين في قوله سبحانه: (فاقتلوا المشركين) الناكثون

Translation: “Therefore the word Mushrikin in the statement of God Almighty “so kill the Mushrikin...” means Nakitheen, i.e. those who violated peace treaties by violating war against the Muslims.

Abu Bakr al-Jassas, a classical scholar, (d.370H) writes,

"صار قوله تعالى: {فَاقْتُلُوا المُشْرِكِينَ حَيْثُ وَجَدْتُمُوهُمْ} خاصّاً في مشركي العرب دون غيرهم"

Translation: “The verse (Kill the Mushrikin wherever you find them) was particular to the Mushrikin of Arab and does not apply to anyone else” (Ahkam al-Quran lilJassas, V. 5, p. 270, Arabic edition- English translation mine)

Imam Jalaluddin Suyuti writes,

“In his commentary on the above mentioned Quranic Ayah 9:5, Imam Ibn Hatim quotes Hazrat Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him, who was the companion and cousin of the beloved Prophet peace be upon him) as saying: ‘The Mushrikin mentioned in this Ayah refer to those Mushrikin of Quraish with whom the Prophet (peace be upon him) had made treaty [of peace]” (Durr-e-Manthoor, V.3, p.655- Urdu version)

He also reports, “Imam Ibn Munzir, Ibn Abi Hatim and Abu Shaikh (may Allah be pleased with them) have quoted Hazrat Muhammad bin Ibad b. Jafar as saying “These Mushrikin are Banu Khuzaima b. Amir who belong to Bani Bakr b. Kananah” (Durr-e-Manthoor, V.3, p.655- Urdu version)

It is concluded from the above discussion that the war-related verses including the verse 9:5 did not permanently abrogate the verses of peace and forbearance. The verses of peace and war; each had a particular context and applicability. As per the early jurists, the term abrogation was also used to denote the case of context, specification and temporary abrogation. On the contrary, the later jurists did not use ‘abrogation’ to denote the case of context and specification and therefore they opined that the war-related verses are not abrogated by the verses of peace and forbearance. This difference, as we have seen, is merely of technical nature and not of essence. So, the modern jihadist ideologues—ISIS, Taliban, Boko Haram and Jaish-e-Muhammad etc, cannot find any solid argument in any way to justify their claim that the verse 9:5 has permanently abrogated the verses of peace and peaceful coexistence. Moreover, the present 21st century is the age where we all Muslims and non-Muslims have mutually agreed to live peacefully and abide by the laws of our respective constitutions. Therefore, the Jihadist ideologues should stop trying to brainwash any of our fellow gullible Muslims in the name of abrogation of peace.

Earlier Parts of the Article:

Refutation of Jihadi Ideology That Uses the Verse, ‘Kill the Mushrikin Wherever You Find Them’ To Justify Terrorism in 21st Century: Linguistic Analysis of the Word ‘Mushrikin’ Part-1

Refutation of Jihadi Ideology: Who Are The Mushrikin Mentioned In The Quranic Verse 9:5? - Part 2

Refutation of the Jihadi Ideology Through the Principle of Zahir and Nass Related to the Quranic verse 9:5 Quoted To Justify Acts of Violence In 21st Century- Part 3

Refutation of Jihadi Ideology In The Context and Structure of the Quranic Verse ‘Kill the Mushrikin wherever you Find them’ (9:5)- Part 4

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