CSSMuslim Law

Q. No. 2. Explain naskh (abrogation) in the light of the definitions of classic Muslim jurists. Also describe its role in the texts of Islamic Shariʿah. (2020)

Naskh, also known as abrogation, refers to the Islamic legal principle which entails the revocation or cancellation of a legal ruling or commandment. This principle finds its roots in the Qur’an, where the revelation of a later verse revokes the ruling of an earlier verse. The concept of naskh has been explained by classic Muslim jurists in their writings.

According to Imam Shafi’i, one of the most prominent jurists of Islamic law, naskh occurs when a later verse renders a previous verse obsolete or inapplicable. Similarly, Imam Malik defines naskh as the replacement of a previously valid ruling with a new ruling. Another renowned jurist, Ibn Taymiyyah, states that naskh occurs when the later revelation explicitly negates or contradicts a previous ruling.

In Islamic jurisprudence, the principle of naskh plays a significant role in the interpretation and application of the texts of Islamic Shariʿah. It is believed that the Qur’an itself establishes the principle of naskh, as certain verses abrogate or supersede other verses, leading to the development of an Islamic legal system that reflects the changing circumstances and needs of society.

The role of naskh in the texts of Islamic Shariʿah is significant as it allows for the development and adaptation of Islamic law in response to changing times and contexts. It has been used to abrogate or modify certain legal rulings that may have become outdated or irrelevant in contemporary society, while also ensuring that the core values and principles of Islamic law are preserved. However, the use of naskh in Islamic law has been a topic of debate among Muslim scholars, with some advocating for its limited application to prevent the abuse of this principle.

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