The ordinary meaning of abrogation is to cause to pass away. One says “the sun has abrogated the shade” if it removes it and makes it disappear. Some say its meaning is to copy, because people say “I have abrogated1 what is in this book,” meaning I have copied it.
Abrogation is defined technically as speech that indicates the removal of a legal value established by previous speech, in such a way that without the second speech the legal value would still be in force. There must be a delay between the first speech and the second.2
A text can be abrogated while the legal value it indicates remains, and a legal value can be abrogated while the text remains.3 Some abrogation substitutes a new requirement for the old one, and some does not. Some abrogation results in a tougher requirement, and some in a lighter requirement.
The Book can be abrogated by the Book, and the Sunna can be abrogated by the Book and by the Sunna. What is collectively transmitted can be abrogated by what is collectively transmitted, and what is individually transmitted can be abrogated by what is individually or collectively transmitted, but what is collectively transmitted cannot be abrogated by what is individually transmitted.4
- abrogation: naskh
- speech: khiṭāb
- text: rasm
- legal value: ḥukm
- collectively transmitted: mutawātir
- individually transmitted: āḥād
- The Arabic nasakha means to copy as well as to abrogate. ‘Copy’ here translates naqala.
- If the second speech followed the first speech immediately, it would constitute something other than abrogation, such as one of the forms of connected particularization described above.
- Certain verses which were once included in the Qurʾān, but are not now part of it, are said to have been abrogated as text, whereas other verses were left in the Qurʾān even though their legal implications were superseded by later revelations.
- Collective and individual transmission are defined in Section 13 on Reports.