Allah Repenting and Changing His Mind

Sam Shamoun

Since MENJ and his source, Ibn Hazm, have a problem with the true God of the Bible "changing" his mind (*) then MENJ will surely have a problem with his deity changing his mind. After all, the Quran plainly speaks about Allah repenting and changing his course of action:

Then Adam received commandments from his Lord, and his Lord repented (fataba) towards him; for He is Oft-Repenting (huwa al-tawwabu), Most Merciful. S. 2:37

Our Lord! And make us submissive unto you and of our seed a nation submissive unto you, and show us our ways of worship, and repent (watub) toward us. Lo! You are the Repenting (anta al-tawwabu), the merciful. S. 2:128

Except those who repent (taboo) and make amends and openly declare: To them I repent (atoobu); for I am Oft-Repenting (wa ana al-tawwabu), Most Merciful. S. 2:160

Do they not know that Allah accepts repentance (al-tawbata) from his servants and takes the alms, and that Allah is the Oft-returning (huwa al-tawwabu), the Merciful? S. 9:104

And to the three who were left behind, until the earth became strait to them notwithstanding its spaciousness and their souls were also straightened to them; and they knew it for certain that there was no refuge from Allah but in Him; then He repented (taba) to them that they might repent (liyatooboo); surely Allah is the Oft-repenting (huwa al-tawwabu), the Merciful. S. 9:118

The above references clearly present Allah as a deity who turns towards his creatures by repenting or changing his mind or the course of action he intended to take against them.

MENJ may wish to deny that Allah literally repents from doing certain things by changing his mind, and just in case he does we will simply quote what the Quran says Moses commanded the Israelites to do after fashioning the calf:

And remember We appointed forty nights for Moses, and in his absence ye took the calf (for worship), and ye did grievous wrong. Even then We did forgive you; there was a chance for you to be grateful. And remember We gave Moses the Scripture and the Criterion (Between right and wrong): There was a chance for you to be guided aright. And remember Moses said to his people: "O my people! Ye have indeed wronged yourselves by your worship of the calf: So turn (in repentance) (fataboo) to your Maker, and slay yourselves (the wrong-doers); that will be better for you in the sight of your Maker." Then He turned (fataba) towards you (in forgiveness): For He is Oft-Returning (huwa al-tawwabu), Most Merciful. S. 2:51-54 Y. Ali

Moses tells the people to turn or repent of their sins, which would result in Allah turning to them and repenting of the destruction that he was to bring on them. Note what the Muslim exegetes said regarding this verse:

And when Moses said to his people, those who worshipped the calf, 'My people, you have done wrong against yourselves by your taking the [golden] calf, for a god; now turn to your Creator, away from that worship [of the calf] and slay one another, that is, let the innocent of you slay the guilty; That, slaughter, will be better for you in your Creator's sight', who made it easier for you to accomplish this and sent down a dark cloud over you, so that none of you was able to see the other and show him mercy, such that almost seventy thousand of you were killed; and He will turn to you [relenting], before your [turning in] repentance; truly He is the Relenting, the Merciful. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Yet the Quran says elsewhere that Allah promised to pour out his wrath upon the calf worshipers:

Those who took the calf (for worship) will indeed be overwhelmed with wrath from their Lord, and with shame in this life: thus do We recompense those who invent (falsehoods). S. 7:152 Y. Ali

Allah clearly didn’t do this since he forgave them:

But those who do wrong but repent thereafter and (truly) believe, - verily thy Lord is thereafter Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. S. 7:153 Y. Ali

Hence, just as we are to assume that in Q. 2:54 the Israelites were called to actually change their thoughts and actions, we are to also assume that Allah literally changed his attitude towards them by refraining from carrying out the destruction he intended to bring.

What makes this rather ironic is that this Quranic story is referring to the same event mentioned in Exodus 32 and 33, the very passages which Ibn Hazm attacked! It even mentions Moses’ command to the Israelites to kill each other:

And (remember) when Musa (Moses) said to his people: "O my people! Verily, you have wronged yourselves by worshipping the calf. So turn in repentance to your Creator and kill yourselves (the innocent kill the wrongdoers among you), that will be better for you with your Lord." Then He accepted your repentance. Truly, He is the One Who accepts repentance, the Most Merciful. S. 2:54 Hilali-Khan

This is a direct allusion to the Levites slaying 3000 of their brethren! Therefore, if Ibn Hazm’s criticisms of the Exodus texts are valid then they equally apply to the Quran as well.

Allah also repented from destroying the people of Jonah, which again is an echo of the biblical story:

If only there had been a community (of all those that were destroyed of old) that believed and profited by its belief as did the folk of Jonah! When they believed WE DREW OFF FROM THEM THE TORMENT OF DISGRACE in the life of the world and gave them comfort for a while. S. 10:98 Pickthall

So also was Jonah among those sent (by Us). When he ran away (like a slave from captivity) to the ship (fully) laden, He (agreed to) cast lots, and he was condemned: Then the big Fish did swallow him, and he had done acts worthy of blame. Had it not been that he (repented and) glorified God, He would certainly have remained inside the Fish till the Day of Resurrection. But We cast him forth on the naked shore in a state of sickness, And We caused to grow, over him, a spreading plant of the gourd kind. And We sent him (on a mission) to a hundred thousand (men) or more. And they believed; so We permitted them to enjoy (their life) for a while. S. 37:139-148 Y. Ali

Here is how the Islamic exegetes interpreted these specific passages:

(If only there had been a community (of all those that were destroyed of old) that believed) if only the people of a township believed when the punishment befell them (and profited by its belief) He says: their faith did not benefit them upon the descent of punishment (as did the folk of Jonah) except the folk of Jonah who benefited from their belief. (When they believed We drew off) WE DIVERTED (from them the torment of disgrace) the severe punishment (in the life of the world and gave them comfort for a while) We left them without punishment until they died. (Tanwr al-Miqbs min Tafsr Ibn ‘Abbs, Q. 10:98; source; bold, capital and italic emphasis ours)

If only there had been one town - meaning its inhabitants - that believed, before chastisement befell it, and profited by its belief - except for the people of Jonah: when they believed, after seeing a portent of the chastisement, for they did not wait [to believe] until it came to pass, We removed from upon them the chastisement of degradation in the life of this world and We gave them comfort for a while, until the conclusion of their terms [of life]. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Q. 10:98; source; bold and italic emphasis ours)

And they believed, after they saw [with their own eyes] the chastisement WHICH THEY HAD BEEN PROMISED. So We gave them comfort, We kept them alive to enjoy their wealth, for a while, until their terms [of life] would be concluded [while they took comfort] therein. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Q. 37:148; source; bold, capital and italic emphasis ours)

… Then he mentioned the multitude of followers that Musa had, peace be upon him, then that he saw his nation of people filling from the west to the east. The point is that between Musa and Yunus, there was no nation, in its entirety, that believed except the people of Yunus, the people of Naynawa (Nineveh). And they only believed because they feared that the torment from which their Messenger warned them, might strike them. They actually witnessed its signs. So they cried to Allah and asked for help. They engaged in humility in invoking Him. They brought their children and cattle and asked Allah to lift the torment from which their Prophet had warned them. As a result, Allah sent His mercy AND REMOVED THE SCOURGE from them and gave them respite. Allah said…

<Except the people of Yunus; when they believed, We removed from them the torment of disgrace in the life of the world, and permitted them to enjoy for a while.> In interpreting this Ayah, Qatadah said: "No town has denied the truth and then believed when they saw the scourge, and then their belief benefited them, with the exception of the people of Yunus. When they lost their Prophet and they thought that the scourge was close upon them, Allah sent through their hearts the desire to repent. So they wore woolen fabrics and they separated each animal from its offspring. They then cried out to Allah for forty nights. When Allah saw the truth in their hearts and that they were sincere in their repentance and regrets, He REMOVED the scourge from them." Qatadah said: "It was mentioned that the people of Yunus were in Naynawa, the land of Mosul." This was also reported from Ibn Mas`ud, Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr and others from the Salaf. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 10:98; source; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Even though Allah swore to punish Nineveh, he nevertheless repented from destroying them when he saw their repentance!

As if this weren’t enough to prove that Allah literally changes his mind according to the Quran, we will now see how the very words used in connection with Allah repenting, i.e. taba and tawwab, are used to denote actual repentance or change of mind and/or actions:

They will question thee concerning the monthly course. Say: 'It is hurt; so go apart from women during the monthly course, and do not approach them till they are clean. When they have cleansed themselves, then come unto them as God has commanded you.' Truly, God loves those who repent (al-tawwabeena), and He loves those who cleanse themselves. S. 2:222 Arberry

And when two of you commit indecency, punish them both; but if they repent (taba) and make amends, then suffer them to be; God turns, and is All-compassionate. S. 4:16 Arberry

And to Thamood their brother Salih; he said, 'O my people, serve God! You have no god other than He. It is He who produced you from the earth and has given you to live therein; so ask forgiveness of Him, then repent (tooboo) to Him; surely my Lord is nigh, and answers prayer. S. 11:61 Arberry

Save him who repenteth (taba) and believeth and doth righteous work; as for such, Allah will change their evil deeds to good deeds. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. And whosoever repenteth (taba) and doeth good, he verily repenteth (yatoobu) toward Allah with true repentance (mataban). S. 25:70-71 Pickthall

Believers, turn (tooboo) to God in sincere repentance (tawbatan); it may be that your Lord will acquit you of your evil deeds, and will admit you into gardens underneath which rivers flow. Upon the day when God will not degrade the Prophet and those who believe with him, their light running before them, and on their right hands; and they say, ‘Our Lord, perfect for us our light, and forgive us; surely Thou art powerful over everything.’ S. 66:8 Arberry

The foregoing proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that when taba and tawwab are used of the Islamic deity we are to interpret this as Allah literally changing his mind and course of action.

The Quran provides further evidence that Allah changes his mind and repents, since it ascribes certain emotions to him:

And fight in the way of Allah with those who fight with you, and do not exceed the limits, surely Allah does not love those who exceed the limits. S. 2:190 Shakir

And spend in the way of Allah and cast not yourselves to perdition with your own hands, and do good (to others); surely Allah loves the doers of good. S. 2:195 Shakir

And when he turneth away (from thee) his effort in the land is to make mischief therein and to destroy the crops and the cattle; and Allah loveth not mischief. S. 2:205 Pickthall

Allah does not bless usury, and He causes charitable deeds to prosper, and Allah does not love any ungrateful sinner. S. 2:276 Shakir

Say, (O Muhammad, to mankind): If ye love Allah, follow me; Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Say: Obey Allah and the messenger. But if they turn away, lo! Allah loveth not the disbelievers (in His guidance). S. 3:31-32 Pickthall

Yea, whoever fulfills his promise and guards (against evil) -- then surely Allah loves those who guard (against evil). S. 3:76 Shakir

Those who spend (of that which Allah hath given them) in ease and in adversity, those who control their wrath and are forgiving toward mankind; Allah loveth the good; S. 3:134 Pickthall

The above references suggest that Allah’s emotions will change due to the actions a specific individual takes. For instance, if a person does right Allah will love him/her, but if that same person abandons what is right in Allah’s sight then Allah will no longer love that individual. Likewise, Allah will not love anyone who does what is evil, but if that individual repents then Allah will start loving him/her.

But in order for Allah to start or stop loving someone he must have a change of mind and emotions, i.e. he has to change his attitude towards anyone who repents from evil or turns away from doing what pleases him.

There is more to the story. According to Islamic sources, Allah even changes his instructions and sometimes on the very same day! The following is an example of what we mean:

O Prophet (Muhammad SAW)! Urge the believers to fight. If there are twenty steadfast persons amongst you, they will overcome two hundred, and if there be a hundred steadfast persons they will overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they (the disbelievers) are people who do not understand. Now Allah has lightened your (task), for He knows that there is weakness in you. So if there are of you a hundred steadfast persons, they shall overcome two hundred, and if there are a thousand of you, they shall overcome two thousand with the Leave of Allah. And Allah is with As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.). S. 8:65-66 Hilali-Khan

In a matter of two verses Allah changes his command regarding the number of disbelievers that Muslims will be able to successfully engage in combat. In the first verse Allah says that twenty Muslims will be able to overcome two hundred and that a hundred will overpower a thousand. Yet in the reference right after Allah changes the ratio since now he says that it will take one hundred Muslims to overpower two hundred and a thousand to defeat two thousand, which means that it will take approximately five times as many Muslims to defeat the same number of disbelievers!

One of the earliest Islamic biographers Ibn Ishaq, in his Sirat Rasulullah, implies that this change in ratio occurred on the same day:

Then He said: ‘O prophet, God is sufficient for thee and the believers who follow thee. O prophet, exhort the believers to fight. If there are twenty steadfast ones among you they will overcome a thousand unbelievers for there are hundred of you they will overcome a thousand unbelievers for they are senseless people,’ i.e. they do not fight with a good intention nor for truth nor have they knowledge of what is good and what is evil. Abdullah b. Abu Najih from ‘Ata’ b. Abu Ribah from ‘Abdullah b. ‘Abbas told me that WHEN THIS VERSE CAME DOWN it came as a shock to the Muslims who took it hard that twenty should have to fight two hundred, and a hundred fight a thousand. So God relieved them AND CANCELED THE VERSE WITH ANOTHER SAYING: ‘Now has God relieved you and He knows that there is weakness amongst you, so if there are a hundred steadfast they shall overcome two hundred, and if there are a thousand of you they shall overcome two thousand by God’s permission, for God is with the steadfast.’ (‘Abdullah) said, ‘When they numbered half of the enemy it was wrong for them to run from them; but if they were less than half they were not bound to fight and it was permissible for them to withdraw.’ (The Life of Muhammad, A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Karachi Oxford University Press, Karachi, Tenth Impression 1995], p. 326; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Renowned Sunni exegete Ibn Kathir adds:

Allah said next, commanding the believers and conveying good news to them…

<If there are twenty steadfast persons among you, they will overcome two hundred, and if there be a hundred steadfast persons, they will overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve.>

The Ayah says, one Muslim should endure ten disbelievers. Allah abrogated this part later on, but the good news remained. `Abdullah bin Al-Mubarak said that Jarir bin Hazim narrated to them that, Az-Zubayr bin Al-Khirrit narrated to him, from `Ikrimah, from Ibn `Abbas, "When this verse was revealed…

<If there are twenty steadfast persons among you, they will overcome two hundred…> it became difficult for the Muslims, when Allah commanded that one Muslim is required to endure ten idolators. Soon after, this matter was made easy

<Now Allah has lightened your (task)>, until…

<they shall overcome two hundred…>

Allah lowered the number [of adversaries that Muslims are required to endure], and thus, made the required patience less, compatible to the decrease in numbers." Al-Bukhari recorded a similar narration from Ibn Al-Mubarak. Muhammad bin Ishaq recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, "When this Ayah was revealed, it was difficult for the Muslims, for they thought it was burdensome since twenty should fight two hundred, and a hundred against a thousand. Allah made this ruling easy for them and abrogated this Ayah with another Ayah

<Now Allah has lightened your (task), for He knows that there is weakness in you…>

Thereafter, if Muslims were half as many as their enemy, they were not allowed to run away from them. If the Muslims were fewer than that, they were not obligated to fight the disbelievers and thus allowed to avoid hostilities." (Tafsir Ibn Kathir; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Now if Allah is truly all knowing and doesn’t change his mind wouldn’t he have known beforehand that the Muslims were not up to the task of facing so many disbelievers? Then why did he give them this instruction in the first place? Isn’t this proof that Allah doesn’t know all things and does change his mind, especially when he discovers new facts or encounters new situations that he hadn’t foreseen?

Even the so-called sound reports of Muhammad furnish examples of Allah changing his mind:

"Then I passed by Abraham and he said, ‘Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious son.’ I asked Gabriel, ‘Who is he?’ Gabriel replied, ‘He is Abraham.’" The Prophet added, "Then Gabriel ascended with me to a place where I heard the creaking of the pens." Ibn Hazm and Anas bin Malik said: The Prophet said, "Then Allah enjoined fifty prayers on my followers. When I returned with this order of Allah, I passed by Moses who asked me, ‘What has Allah enjoined on your followers?’ I replied, ‘He has enjoined fifty prayers on them.’ Moses said, ‘Go back to your Lord (and appeal for reduction) for your followers will not be able to bear it.’ (So I went back to Allah and requested for reduction) and He reduced it to half. When I passed by Moses again and informed him about it, he said, ‘Go back to your Lord as your followers will not be able to bear it.’ So I returned to Allah and requested for further reduction and half of it was reduced. I again passed by Moses and he said to me: ‘Return to your Lord, for your followers will not be able to bear it.’ So I returned to Allah and He said, ‘These are five prayers and they are all (equal to) fifty (in reward) for My Word does not change.’ I returned to Moses and he told me to go back once again. I replied, 'Now I feel shy of asking my Lord again.’ Then Gabriel took me till we reached Sidrat-il-Muntaha (Lote tree of the utmost boundary) which was shrouded in colors, indescribable. Then I was admitted into Paradise where I found small (tents or) walls (made) of pearls and its earth was of musk." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 8, Number 345)

And:

But Gabriel ascended with him (the Prophet) for a distance above that, the distance of which only Allah knows, till he reached the Lote Tree (beyond which none may pass) and then the Irresistible, the Lord of Honor and Majesty approached and came closer till he (Gabriel) was about two bow lengths or (even) nearer. (It is said that it was Gabriel who approached and came closer to the Prophet. (Fate Al-Bari Page 263, 264, Vol. 17). Among the things which Allah revealed to him then, was: "Fifty prayers were enjoined on his followers in a day and a night."

Then the Prophet descended till he met Moses, and then Moses stopped him and asked, "O Muhammad! What did your Lord enjoin upon you?" The Prophet replied, "He enjoined upon me to perform fifty prayers in a day and a night." Moses said, "Your followers cannot do that; Go back so that your Lord may reduce it for you and for them." So the Prophet turned to Gabriel as if he wanted to consult him about that issue. Gabriel told him of his opinion, saying, "Yes, if you wish." So Gabriel ascended with him to the Irresistible and said while he was in his place, "O Lord, please lighten our burden as my followers cannot do that." So Allah deducted for him ten prayers where upon he returned to Moses who stopped him again and kept on sending him back to his Lord till the enjoined prayers were reduced to only five prayers.

Then Moses stopped him when the prayers had been reduced to five and said, "O Muhammad! By Allah, I tried to persuade my nation, Bani Israel to do less than this, but they could not do it and gave it up. However, your followers are weaker in body, heart, sight and hearing, so return to your Lord so that He may lighten your burden."

The Prophet turned towards Gabriel for advice and Gabriel did not disapprove of that. So he ascended with him for the fifth time. The Prophet said, "O Lord, my followers are weak in their bodies, hearts, hearing and constitution, so lighten our burden." On that the Irresistible said, "O Muhammad!" the Prophet replied, "Labbaik and Sa'daik." Allah said, "The Word that comes from Me does not change, so it will be as I enjoined on you in the Mother of the Book." Allah added, "Every good deed will be rewarded as ten times so it is fifty (prayers) in the Mother of the Book (in reward) but you are to perform only five (in practice)."

The Prophet returned to Moses who asked, "What have you done?" He said, "He has lightened our burden: He has given us for every good deed a tenfold reward." Moses said, "By Allah! I tried to make Bani Israel observe less than that, but they gave it up. So go back to your Lord that He may lighten your burden further." Allah's Apostle said, "O Moses! By Allah, I feel shy of returning too many times to my Lord." On that Gabriel said, "Descend in Allah's Name." The Prophet then woke while he was in the Sacred Mosque (at Mecca). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 608)

It is truly ironic that Allah could make the rather bold assertion that his word never changes when he had just finished changing his mind not once, but several times, regarding the number of prayers a Muslim must perform!

And note the glaring contradictions between these two allegedly sound narratives. Did Allah reduce the fifty prayers by half the first time Muhammad returned to him? Or did he reduce them by ten? Did Muhammad return three times or six times? The problems with Islam never end it seems.

In light of the above, does it come as a surprise that some of Muhammad’s contemporaries accused him of being a liar and forger for teaching that God could change his mind by abrogating his commands?

And when We change a Verse [of the Qur'an, i.e. cancel (abrogate) its order] in place of another, and Allah knows the best of what He sends down, they (the disbelievers) say: "You (O Muhammad SAW) are but a Muftari! (forger, liar)." Nay, but most of them know not. S. 16:101 Hilali-Khan

Regarding this text the commentators said:

And when We exchange a verse in place of a [different] verse, by abrogating it and revealing another, for the welfare of [God's] servants - and God knows best what He reveals - they say, that is, the disbelievers [say] to the Prophet (s): 'You are just a fabricator', a liar, making it up yourself. Nay, most of them do not know, the true nature of the Qur'an and the benefit [to God's servants] of abrogation. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

The Idolators' Accusation that the Prophet was a Liar since some Ayat were abrogated, and the Refutation of their Claim

Allah tells us of the weak minds of the idolators, and their lack of faith and conviction. He explains that it is impossible for them to have faith when He has decreed that they are doomed. When they saw that some rulings had been changed by being abrogated, they said to the Messenger of Allah…

<You are but a forger> meaning one who tells lies. But Allah is the Lord Who does whatever He wills, and rules as He wants. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir; source; underline emphasis ours)

These people realized that an all-knowing Deity could not change his directives in such a short period without this implying that he had a change of mind. They had enough sense to know that God by nature is perfect and could not change, and therefore the abrogations and contradictions within the Quran were proof positive that Muhammad, an imperfect and fallible human, was its real author.

But since Muslims believe that the Quran is the word of Allah then this leaves them with two conclusions:

(1) Allah is accused of breaking His promise and changing His decision and mind.
(2) Allah is accused of violating the principles of justice and told lies.

These glaring problems in the Quran and the so-called authentic hadith lead one to either agree to the above accusations against Allah or admit that there are internal contradictions since the specific passages that we looked at regarding Allah repenting do not agree with other Quranic references concerning the perfection and immutability of Allah. Most certainly in this case, Ibn Hazm’s criticism of the Holy Bible with regard to the true God supposedly contradicting Himself can be turned against Allah even more forcefully since it has a stronger basis within the Quran and Sunna with all their gross mistakes and blunders, i.e. Allah does change his mind and repents even though he is supposed to be all-knowing and perfect.

To top this all off, here is how Ibn Kathir justifies Allah changing his mind and abrogating his commands:

Naskh occurs even though the Jews deny it

Allah said…

(Know you not that Allah is Able to do all things Know you not that it is Allah to Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth And besides Allah you have neither any Wali (protector or guardian) nor any helper).

Allah directed His servants to the fact that He alone is the Owner of His creatures and that He does with them as He wills. Indeed, His is the supreme authority and all creation is His, and just as He created them as He wills, He brings happiness to whom He wills, misery to whom He wills, health to whom He wills and ailment to whom He wills. He also brings success to whom He wills and failure to whom He wills. He judges between His servants as He wills, allows what He wills and disallows what He wills. He decides what He wills, there is no opponent for His judgment, and no one can question Him about what He does, while they shall be questioned. He tests His servants and their obedience to His Messengers by the Naskh. He commands a matter containing a benefit which He knows of, and then He out of His wisdom, prohibits it. Hence, perfect obedience is realized by adhering to His commands, following His Messengers, believing in what ever they convey, implementing their commands and avoiding what they prohibit.

The statements of Allah here contain tremendous benefit, prove that the Jews are disbelievers and refute their claim that Naskh does not occur, may Allah curse the Jews. In ignorance and arrogance they claimed that the sound mind stipulates that Naskh does not occur. Some of them falsely claimed that there are divine texts that dismiss the possibility that Naskh occurred.

Imam Abu Ja`far bin Jarir said, "The Ayah means, `Do you not know, O Muhammad, that I alone own the heavens and the earth and that I decide whatever I will in them I forbid whatever I will, change and repeal whatever I will of My previous rulings, whenever I will. I also uphold whatever I will."

Ibn Jarir then said, "Although Allah directed His statement indicating His greatness towards His Prophet, He also rejected the lies of the Jews who denied that the rulings of the Torah could undergo Naskh. The Jews also denied the prophethood of Jesus and Muhammad, because of their dislike for what they brought from Allah, such as changing some rulings of the Torah, as Allah commanded. Allah thus proclaimed to the Jews that He owns the heavens and earth and also all authority in them. Further, the subjects in Allah's kingdom are His creation, and they are required to hear and obey His commands and prohibitions. Allah has full authority to command the creation as He wills, forbidding them from what He wills, abrogate what He wills, uphold what He wills, and decide whatever commandments and prohibitions He wills."

I (Ibn Kathir) say that the Jews' dismissal of the occurrence of the Naskh is only a case of their disbelief and rebellion. The sound mind does not deny that there could be a Naskh in Allah's commandments, for He decides what He wills, just as He does what He wills. Further, Naskh occurred in previous Books and Law. For instance, Allah allowed Adam to marry his daughters to his sons and then later forbade this practice. Allah also allowed Nuh to eat from all kinds of animals after they left the ark, then prohibited eating some types of foods. Further, marrying two sisters to one man was allowed for Israel and his children, but Allah prohibited this practice later in the Torah. Allah commanded Abraham to slaughter his son, then repealed that command before it was implemented. Also, Allah commanded the Children of Israel to kill those who worshipped the calf AND THEN REPEALED THAT COMMAND, so that the Children of Israel were not all exterminated. There are many other instances that the Jews admit have occurred, yet they ignore them. Also, it is a well-known fact that their Books foretold about Muhammad and contained the command to follow him. These texts, in their Books, indicate that the Jews were required to follow the Prophet Muhammad and that no good deed would be accepted from them, unless it conformed to Muhammad's Law. The Prophet brought another Book, - the Qur'an -, which is the last revelation from Allah. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 2:106; source; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Ibn Kathir defended the Islamic doctrine of abrogation by appealing to stories and commands in the Torah such as the permissibility at first to marry one’s sister and God relenting from destroying the Israelites for worshiping the calf! Yet these are the very stories used by Ibn Hazm to prove that God changes and to attack the Bible’s authenticity!

Perhaps MENJ can explain why one Muslim scholar used the very stories condemned by another scholar to defend the Quran’s teaching on abrogation. After all, if these biblical stories prove that God is imperfect and changes his mind then this would surely apply to Allah, that he too is imperfect and also changes his mind. How, then, can any Muslim appeal to these biblical narratives to defend the perfection of his/her god?


Further Reading

http://answering-islam.org/Index/A/abrogation.html
http://answering-islam.org/Responses/Osama/zawadi_god_repenting.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Shamoun/allah_deceiver.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Authors/Wood/deceptive_god.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Shamoun/god.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Responses/Osama/zawadi_paul_deceiver.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Responses/Osama/smith_mixed_bag.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Responses/Osama/smith_mixed_bag2.htm


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