SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Burton, John (1969) Al Nasikh wa al Mansukh. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

[img] Text - Submitted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

Download (24MB)


The principal sources of the Islamic shari'a are traditionally held to have been the Qur'an and 'the Sunna of the prophet'. The main elements of the shari'a had thus been established during Muhammad's lifetime. Schacht has, however, shown that this attitude to the system dates only from the late second century A.H., when its earliest consistent formulation was set out by Shafi'i. Islamic scholarship further argued the determination, during the very course of its formation, of the ultimate content of the shari'a by the operation upon the continuing validity of numerous Qur'an and Sunna statements of certain phenomena known collectively as 'al nasikh wa al mansukh', which include abrogation. Acceptance of the reality of these phenomena - which amount to a modification of Muhammad's legislation - allegedly derived in turn from Qur'anic and Sunna statements. The modifications were thus also attributed to Muhammad. Apart from polemic exploitation, the principle of abrogation has attracted little serious non-Muslim attention. Orientalists have concentrated upon the Qur'an almost exclusively as a document to whose analysis purely literary techniques / techniques were applicable. Limiting his celebrated enquiry to the claim that several revealed verses had been omitted from the collected Qur'an - a reflection of only one aspect of the term 'naskh' (omission) - Noldeke failed to perceive that it was for the Qur'an as source that the 'naskh' principle held its main significance for the Muslims. The latter, in their prolonged quarrels over the question of the abrogation of the Qur'an by the Sunna primarily emphasised another meaning of the term. Comparative examination of both meanings in detail establishes that the 'omission' component of the term is secondary to the 'abrogation' element, while the latter derived from embarrassment at the recognition of conflict between the alleged sources of the shari'a when both were held to have been revealed.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
Additional Information: Thesis digitised by Proquest LLC
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Copyright Statement: © The author
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2018 17:31

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item