I don't see how Muhammad's biography helps you. Why would Muhammad's teaching have been any different at Mecca than at Medina?Well, of course it helps you to know Muhammad's biography... And logically, if Muhammad first tried a peaceful approach while in Mecca, and was violently driven out because of this, and he then made his way to Medina, the effects of that trauma would not be recorded until after he had to flee to Medina, to recoup his strength and rebuild...
In other words, we should logically expect that his Meccan writings would reflect his then-peaceful attitude, and his Medinan writings would reflect his later, traumatized and wrathful new attitude towards his enemies, after regrouping. And that's what you see.
You then say:
There are definitely no verses that tell you to "abrogate Meccan in deference to Medinian verses."Really? Well, take a look at this, from Surah 2:106:
Whatever a Verse (revelation) do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring a better one or similar to it. Know you not that Allah is able to do all things?
Why would you forget something, unless it came before something else? In other words, since Muhammad first wrote verses in Mecca and then in Medina... Shouldn't it be the contradictory Meccan verses which are forgotten, in favor of those written in Medina?
To carry it further, the former professor of Islamic Studies at Al-Azhar University, Mark Gabriel, points out -- in his book, Islam and the Jews (on page 47) that:
You can still read the words, "There is no compulsion in religion", in the Quran, but they no longer have authority. This verse has been mansookh (canceled) by revelations that came later.Gabriel then asks the question of the reader (on page 48):
Now you should be asking yourself, Do all Muslims interpret the Quran this way? Do all Muslims accept that a contradiction in the Quran is solved by using the newest revelation?
This principle is known in Arabic as nasikh. It means that Allah led Muhammad in a progressive revelation.
Nasikh is widely accepted in Islam. The two largest sects in Islam, Sunni and Shia, accept this principle. I learned it at my Muslim high school. I also studied it at Al-Azhar University in Quranic commentary class. I taught it at the mosque where I preached.
And here's something that I think is very interesting, that he then says:
Many copies of the Quran have a table that shows whether a Surah is from Mecca or Medina in order to help readers know which is a newer revelation.
In fact, I myself purchased a copy of The Qur'an -- the version translated by Maulana Muhammad Ali -- and in the preface, on page iii, it presents this table that Gabriel talks about, and lists which Surahs were written during the Early, Middle, and Late "Makkan" periods, and which were written "A.H.", in other words, "after (or ante) the flight from Mecca" (which, for the benefit of other SOLO readers, is called the "Hijrah"... and hence, "A.H.").
It seems pretty clear to me, Irfan.
Gabriel then comments on page 48:
Even Quranic history shows that nasikh is valid. If there were no nasikh, Muhammad's followers would have just stayed with Mecca ideals. There would have been no jihad and no Islamic military to conquer land and people all over the world. Islam would have never left Arabia.
The problem is, if you do not accept nasikh, how are you going to interpret the Quran? Are you going to just choose the verses you like the best? And what are you going to do about the example of Muhammad? He did more than just preach in Mecca. He went to Medina and declared war on unbelievers. Are you going to just follow half of his example?
Finally, Gabriel concludes that page by saying:
If anyone denies the continuing revelation of Allah to Muhammad, they are denying Islam itself. Some Muslims who are not well taught in their faith may not understand nasikh fully, but it is still a foundational principle of Islam.
Even though Islam is not my religion -- nor, as you claim, is it yours any longer -- I feel compelled to ask: does that comment apply to you, Irfan?
(Edited by Orion Reasoner on 10/11, 10:37pm)