The Promised Messiah’sas stance on the abrogation of Quranic verses
It has recently come to light that certain opponents of the Jamaat are of the view that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi believed in the concept of naskh (abrogation) of verses of the Holy Quran as did early Muslim scholars, but after his demise, the Jamaat declared naskh as improper and against the grandeur of the Quran.
To such people it should be made clear that in order to do so, they should firstly produce the text where such words have ever been used by the Promised Messiahas.
Non-Ahmadi scholars believe that there are some verses in the Holy Quran that conflict with other verses. Upon seeing contradictions and their inability to reconcile the meanings of verses, such scholars suggest that the verse that was revealed to the Holy Prophetsa earlier should be considered abrogated and the one revealed to him later should be considered its replacement.
Scholars use the following verse to support their belief:
مَا نَنْسَخْ مِنْ آيَةٍ اَوْ نُنْسِهَا نَاْتِ بِخَيْرٍ مِّنْهَا اَوْ مِثْلِهَا
“Whatever sign We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring one better than that or the like thereof.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.107)
Non-Ahmadi scholars suggest that the word “ayah” [sign] here means verse of the Quran. In other words, God says here, according to non-Ahmadi scholars, that when a verse of the Quran is abrogated, a better verse is brought forth.
No such scholar ever suggests which of two apparently conflicting verses should be considered abrogated and which should be regarded as the replacement. No such scholar ever brings forward a Hadith in which the Holy Prophetsa talked about the abrogation of a particular verse and that nobody should act upon it. All such beliefs are merely views and opinions.
Any verse not understood by a Muslim scholar was considered abrogated and whoever understood that particular verse declared it unabrogated. It is for this reason that scholars are not unanimous on the amount of abrogated verses and accordingly, the total abrogated verses range from 5 to 1,100.
The founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas proved from two verses that the verses of the Holy Quran cannot conflict with one another. Now, whoever is against contradictions in the Holy Quran cannot possibly believe in naskh – abrogation in the Quran. The concepts of contradictions in the Quran and abrogation therein are both intertwined.
The very first criterion, as mentioned by the Promised Messiahas, for interpreting meanings of the Holy Quran was:
“So, when we interpret a verse of the Holy Quran in a certain way, we should try to find out whether or not there are other testimonies present in the Holy Quran which support this interpretation. If there are no other testimonies, and the interpretation is found to be clearly opposed to some other verses, then we should conclude that this interpretation is false, for there is no possibility of contradiction in the Holy Quran.” (Blessings of Prayer, p. 28)
In this extract Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas has clearly shunned the notion of conflict among Quranic verses and in doing so, his belief in the abrogation of verses becomes an improbability.
اَللّٰهُ نَزَّلَ اَحْسَنَ الْحَدِيْثِ كِتَابًا مُّتَشَابِهًا
“Allah has sent down the best Message [in the form] of a Book, [whose verses are] mutually supporting.” (Surah al-Zumar, Ch.39: V.24)
Regarding the above verse, Hazrat Ahmadas says in his book, Al-Haq Mubahisa Ludhiana (The Ludhiana Debate):
يعني ذالك الكتاب كتاب متشابه يشبه بعضه بعضا ليس فيه تناقض و لا اختلاف مثني فيه كل ذكر ليكون بعض الذكر تفسير البعضه
“This book’s verses and subjects are mutually supporting and similar. There is no contradiction or conflict in it. Every guidance and advice has been presented repeatedly, the purpose of which is that one verse may explain another.” (Al-Haq Mubahisa Ludhiana, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 4, pp. 37-38)
Here, the Promised Messiahas explicitly says that by calling it “kitaban-mutashabihan” (a book with mutually supporting verses and subjects), God Almighty declares that “there is no contradiction or conflict in it” and that the verses all support one another rather than conflict.
At another place, Hazrat Ahmadas explains the aforementioned verse in the following words:
“The special feature of this book is that it is mutashabih, that is, its teachings do not conflict with one another, nor do they contradict God’s law of nature; the teachings of this book are perfectly apt for man according to the excellences required for his nature and physical state.” (Karamatus-Sadiqin, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 7, p. 57)
If there is no contradiction in the Holy Quran, according to Hazrat Ahmadas, then there can be no abrogation in the Quran. If verses of the Quran have been abrogated, it is necessary for verses to contradict in meaning.
Hazrat Ahmadas says in one of his writings:
“The Quran is pure of any contradiction and conflict. God Almighty says in the Holy Quran, ‘Had it been from anyone other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much disagreement’ (Surah al-Nisa, Ch.4: V.83). Through this, God Almighty shows that conflicts cannot be found in the Quran for it is the Book of God and its status is far exalted than that. When it is proven that the Book of God [the Holy Quran] is pure from any conflict, then it becomes incumbent on us to not choose a method in its tafsir [interpretation] that proves conflicts and contradictions.”
Through these two verses, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi proved that there can be no conflict between verses of the Quran without going against these verses.
Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra, Khalifatul Masih II, Musleh-e-Maud, says:
“The Promised Messiahas came and told us that the Quran must be followed to the letter – from beginning to end; from the ‘b’ of bismillah to the ‘s’ of ‘al-nas’. The Holy Quran is a standing instruction for us all and it must be followed till the Day of Judgement. I vividly remember Huzooras saying, ‘If someone believes that there is a chance that certain verses of the Quran have been abrogated, then what need is there for such a person to reflect and ponder over the meanings of the Holy Quran and try to act upon them? Such a one would say, “If there are such verses in here that are abrogated, then why waste my time by trying to fathom them? It is possible that the verse I reflect on may eventually turn out to be abrogated.” But whoever says that the entirety of its text is pure from abrogation and every iota must be obeyed, they will try to understand it and in this manner the Quran will become a means of enhancing his awareness.’” (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 2, p. 97)
In light of the above-mentioned stance of the Promised Messiahas, the Ahmadiyya Jamaat rejected the notion of naskh (abrogation) in the Quran.
During Hazrat Ahmad’sas life, the Review of Religions (Urdu), which was published under his supervision, published a series of articles against the concept of naskh in 1907.
(Research by a panel of scholars at the Research Cell, Rabwah)