Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Crane on Abrogation

No. 3 in the series “Critics of Robert Spencer”

by Igor Slamoff

To round off my rebuttal of Robert Dickson Crane’s critique of Robert Spencer, I add a brief note to show that on a different and crucial issue, Crane ignores stacks of evidence when he denies the relevance of Qur’ânic abrogation:   

“The worst heresy among Muslims is evidenced by the official Saudi translations of the Qur’an, which assert that the above two verses and all like them have been abrogated by verses that say only Muslims can enter heaven.  …. This doctrine of abrogation has functioned like a computer virus and has multiplied into the abrogation of hundreds of verses.  Those who justify their new, hate-filled religion by asserting that God changed his mind through abrogation are playing God.  This process of selective interpretation and deletion eventually would gut the entire Qur’an of all meaning.”

Dr. Robert Dickson Crane: “Fascist-Islamophobia”: A Case Study in Totalitarian Demonization”, published online in 5 parts by The American Muslim in 2007. 

By calling into question the practice of abrogation in the Qur’ân, Crane shows profound ignorance both of the Qur’ân itself and of the evolution of Islamic thought.

Abrogation is a principle that is mentioned at several places in the Qur’ân itself, e.g. in verses 2:106 and 13:39.

Qur’ân 2:106:  “Whatever communications We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring one better than it or like it. Do you not know that Allah has power over all things?”

Qur’ân 13:39: “Allah doth blot out or confirm what He pleaseth: with Him is the Mother of the Book.”

Edward Gibbon, the author of Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1766)? although not a scholar of Islam, seemed to be well aware of the concept that Crane refuses to accept, when he wrote: “…  all contradiction [within the Qur’ân] is removed by the saving maxim, that any text of Scripture is abrogated or modified by any subsequent passage”.

Another cite that shows that Crane is utterly mistaken:

“Muslim scholars such as Ibn Salama (d. 1020) agree that Qur'an 9:5, known as ayat as-sayf or the sword verse, has abrogated some 124 of the more peaceful Meccan verses, including "every other verse in the Qur'an, which commands or implies anything less than a total offensive against the nonbelievers."[27]

I refer the reader and Dr. Crane to the WikiIslam web site (, and specifically to its two extensive and detailed articles called
(1) Abrogation (Naskh), and
(2) List of Abrogations in the Qur’ân.

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