If the Quran is timeless and uncreated, how is it that it can be abrogated. Does God change his mind? Why would he need to adjust it on demand and based on the circumstances? If Allah decided the previous revelations could be corrupted because the final one is coming next, wouldn’t this one be really final, and not adjusted here and there piecemeal? There is a very troubling story in the hadith literature about the Quran being adjusted on request of a blind man.
The Quran is the uncreated word of God. It was revealed by Allah in entirety in to lawh-al-mahfood
إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِIndeed, We sent the Qur’an down during the Night of Decree. (Quran 97:1)وَالْكِتَابِ الْمُبِينِإِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةٍ مُّبَارَكَةٍ ۚ إِنَّا كُنَّا مُنذِرِينَ
Then it was revealed piece by piece to the Prophet Muhammad.
وَقُرْآنًا فَرَقْنَاهُ لِتَقْرَأَهُ عَلَى النَّاسِ عَلَىٰ مُكْثٍ وَنَزَّلْنَاهُ تَنزِيلًاAnd [it is] a Qur’an which We have separated [by intervals] that you might recite it to the people over a prolonged period. And We have sent it down progressively. (Quran 17:106)
With this in mind, does it make sense that God decided to cancel out some of the verses or cause them to be forgotten and then replace them with similar other ones? Or does it make more sense that during the 23 year career of Prophet Muhammad he forgot some of the verses and was called out for it? Thus the Quran came to his defense that God himself causes some verses to be forgotten and gives him better ones.
مَا نَنسَخْ مِنْ آيَةٍ أَوْ نُنسِهَا نَأْتِ بِخَيْرٍ مِّنْهَا أَوْ مِثْلِهَا ۗ أَلَمْ تَعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
We do not abrogate a verse or cause it to be forgotten except that We bring forth [one] better than it or similar to it. Do you not know that Allah is over all things competent? (Quran, 2:106)
There was revealed: ‘Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and those who strive and fight in the Cause of Allah.’ (4.95) The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Call Zaid for me and let him bring the board, the inkpot and the scapula bone (or the scapula bone and the ink pot).”‘ Then he said, “Write: ‘Not equal are those Believers who sit..”, and at that time `Amr bin Um Maktum, the blind man was sitting behind the Prophet (ﷺ) . He said, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is your order For me (as regards the above Verse) as I am a blind man?” So, instead of the above Verse, the following Verse was revealed: ‘Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame etc.) and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah.’ (4.95)
Recorded in Bukhari, Bukhari, Nasai, Muslim, Abu Dawud
Or how about the fact that the female companions of Prophet Muhammad felt the Quran was unfair because it kept addressing men, and so Allah decided to reveal a verse talking about women as well?
Take a look at this story as recorded in Ibn Kathir
Sa`id bin Mansur recorded that Salamah, a man from the family of Umm Salamah said, “Umm Salamah said, `O Messenger of Allah! Allah does not mention women in connection with Hijrah (Migration).’ Allah sent down the Ayah,
فَاسْتَجَابَ لَهُمْ رَبُّهُمْ أَنِّى لاَ أُضِيعُ عَمَلَ عَامِلٍ مِّنْكُمْ مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَى
(So their Lord accepted of them (their supplication and answered them), “Never will I allow to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female.)
Yet again we have Allah adjusting what he sends down in response to what people are asking for?
There’s another story in the hadith literature about when Prophet Muhammad scared the people by saying 999 of every 1000 will go to hell. When he saw their faces change color, he decided to adjust what he said by saying “actually, its Gog and Magog who will be 999, not you guys.” Then he proceeded to make them very happy by saying they will be half of the people in paradise after just scaring them. Prophet Muhammad was able to cater and tailor what he said in order to make people follow him.
Narrated Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri:
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “On the day of Resurrection Allah will say, ‘O Adam!’ Adam will reply, ‘Labbaik our Lord, and Sa`daik ‘ Then there will be a loud call (saying), Allah orders you to take from among your offspring a mission for the (Hell) Fire.’ Adam will say, ‘O Lord! Who are the mission for the (Hell) Fire?’ Allah will say, ‘Out of each thousand, take out 999.’ At that time every pregnant female shall drop her load (have a miscarriage) and a child will have grey hair. And you shall see mankind as in a drunken state, yet not drunk, but severe will be the torment of Allah.” (22.2)
When the Prophet (ﷺ) mentioned this), the people were so distressed (and afraid) that their faces got changed (in color)
Whereupon the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “From Gog and Magog nine-hundred ninety-nine will be taken out and one from you.
You Muslims (compared to the large number of other people) will be like a black hair on the side of a white ox, or a white hair on the side of a black ox, and I hope that you will be onefourth of the people of Paradise.” On that, we said, “Allahu-Akbar!” Then he said, “I hope that you will be) one-third of the people of Paradise.” We again said, “Allahu-Akbar!” Then he said, “(I hope that you will be) one-half of the people of Paradise.” So we said, Allahu Akbar.”
- They used to recite a surah the length of Surah Tawba (also known as Surah Baraah) but it was forgotten (Muslim 1050). One of the verses he remembered is still read today as a hadith that talks about the greed of mankind (Bukhari 6439)
- Umar mentioned there were verses about stoning that were abrogated (Agreed upon, Bulugh al-Maram 1050).
- Aisha also said that there used to be verses about stoning and breastfeeding in the Quran (Ibn Maja 1944)
- Problem of abrogation in the Quran (external)