Still another misunderstanding concerns the so-called doctrine of abrogation. At: 16:10,
"And when We change any Ayah for an Ayah - and God knows best what He reveals - they
say: 'You are only a forger'. Nay, most of them know not." The word Ayah here can mean
sign, message, or verse. So it is that many Christians have imagined that some verses of the
Qur'an were changed. Some Muslims seem to agree when they say that some verses cancel
other verses. Their difficulty is with language. The Christians misunderstand (or misinterpret)
the word cancel (actually the Arabic word "naskh"). For example, the Qur'an commands one
not to pray when drunk. Since the Qur'an was revealed gradually over a period of twenty three
years, a later verse forbade intoxicants. But this later verse does not cancel the earlier one.
Compare restricted drug laws in most countries: There are laws giving penalties for
possession, but other laws penalizing those who sell these drugs. Yet the first kind of law does
not cancel the second kind. The missionary trades on this misunderstanding, hoping to cause
confusion. However, he seizes the opportunity too quickly. All charges of abrogation are said
to apply to legal matters. However the verse of 16:101 refers to something that had already
happened. Yet this verse was revealed in Mecca. All verses relating to legal matters were
revealed later in Medina. There is no inconsistency in the Qur'an - remember, this is the claim
The best explanation of the Qur'an is the Qur'an itself. The clarification of 16:101 is found at
2:106. Here the same thought is expressed but this time the context shows that the Jews were
being addressed. The word Ayah refers then to previous messages of the prophets. In
particular, some of the Jewish Law was supplanted by the Qur'an. (Compare the words of
Jesus reported in the Qur'an at 3:49.)
We discussed interpretation of the Bible. Is the Qur'an subject to misinterpretation?
Certainly it is, and for the same reason that the Bible is - namely, the isolating of certain
passages from those verses which explain them. Our point was not that the misinterpretation
of the Bible was to be blamed on the Bible itself. Rather, the origin of the problem is the
carelessness of men.
THE CONCLUDING POINTS
In the preceding section, the first three points have already been addressed to both
Christians and Muslims. The fourth and the fifth may be dealt with by simply mentioning two
points. First, the only "evolved" item in Islam is judicial decision. New circumstances bring
new problems which must be ruled upon by the original principles. This is a body of
knowledge that grows. Second, the most intelligent of Muslim scholars have always been
ready to admit where they have crossed over into speculation. No mental consideration has
ever led to the widespread acceptance of a theological doctrine which was unknown to the
Muslims of Muhammad's time.
THE GOOD NEWS OF ISLAM
Finally, the Muslim really has something that one man can give to another: the Qur'an.
This Book speaks to each reader asking him to consider the things that every man must admit.
The reader is asked to arrange this collection of facts into a coherent whole and think on it. By
reminding us of facts the Qur'an makes contact with reality as the Bible does. But the key
difference in Christian and Muslim thought appears in the next step. The facts are not simply a
feature of the Qur'an. The things we come to believe in are directly based on these facts,
deduced from them in the legitimate sense of the word. The good news of Islam is that a man
who loves truth, detests falsehood, and fears only God has moved toward Islam and thus