Abrogation (naskh), as one of the most important issues in tafsīr, has been discussed since the early periods. There is a consent on the existence of abrogation in Qur’ān both in classical and modern studies. Abū Muslim al-Iṣfahānī (d. 322/934) is the only person to be mentioned to object to the consent on the existence of abrogation in Qur’ān. Today, a new tafsīr has been published in order to question this claim. A clas-sical mufassir, al-Ṣafadī (d. 696/1296), rejects the existence of abrogation in Qur’ān in his tafsīr titled Kashf al-asrār wa hatq al-astār alongside with al-Iṣfahānī. He also mentions Muslims who completely reject abrogation since it requires badā (versatility or muta-bility of God) and al-Nawbakhtī (d. 310/922[?]) who thinks abrogation is not possible in Qur’ān by restricting its existence to earlier holy books. In addition, according to our findings, ‘Ubayd b. ‘Umayr (d. 74/693[?]) from tābi‘ūn is mentioned to have rejec-ted abrogation. Therefore, it was understood that al-Iṣfahānī was not the only one to have rejected the existence of abrogation in Qur’ān in the classical period.
Al-Ṣafadī reasons that abrogation is possible only between Qur’ān and previous books. He bases this idea on the changes in the best interest (maṣlaḥa) of those who are the addressee of decrees and the wisdom in Allah’s actions: Provisions in the earlier bo-oks came in accordance with the best interest of those who dealt with them. Āyah (verses) that abrogated the provisions of the earlier books were revealed in accor-dance with the best interest of his addressees. As time passes and the addressees change, Allah may send different judgments, considering the best interest of his subjects. However, while al-Ṣafadī justifies the abrogation of previous books in Qur’ān in this way, he does not think these justifications are possible for Qur’ān verses. Ac-cording to him, the duration of Qur’ān’s revelation is not long enough to necessitate a serious change in the best interest. On the other hand, al-Ṣafadī draws attention to the disagreements among those who claim there is abrogation among verses: While they claim some verses are abrogated, some of them interpret those verses without resorting to abrogation. The most important reasoning that al-Ṣafadī puts forward while rejecting abrogation is the fact that to accept abrogation in Qur’ān is to accept there is a disagreement in Qur’ān. He explains the situation in the following way: When there is discrepancy between two verses on the same subject, abrogation is resorted. According to this, nāsikh and mansukh verses are contradictory verses in Qur’ān. Accepting that there is nāsikh and mansukh in Qur’ān means that there are contradictory verses in Qur’ān. However, Allah rejected that there was conflict in Qur’ān in an-Nisā 4/82 while he declared that no kind of superstition could approach him in Fussilat 41/42. Thus, al-Ṣafadī thinks that the claim of abrogation in Qur’ān contradicts mentioned verses. However, those who accept abrogation do not see any contradiction between these verses and this claim.
In fact, the fact that al-Ṣafadī accepts abrogation in general while rejecting the claim of abrogation in Qur’ān is problematic in itself: Justifying the change in provisions with the change in best interests requires an acceptance of abrogation both between Qur’ān and earlier holy books, among Qur’ān verses and after Qur’ān. Because the change in best interests did not happen only between the period corresponding to the revelation of Qur’ān and earlier books. This change happened both in the revelation period and the period between the revelation and today. However, al-Ṣafadī, thinking that abrogation is subject to the order of Allah, he does not think abrogation is possib-le after the revelation even though best interests change. Because, a new order from Allah is required in order for some verses to be accepted as mansukh after the revela-tion period. The fact that al-Ṣafadī rejects abrogation after the revelation period cont-radicts his earlier explanations. In fact, even though best interests have changed after the revelation period, if abrogation will not occur, it would not be a strong justi-fication to explain abrogation in earlier periods with the change in best interest.
Al-Ṣafadī also refers to the difference of abrogation and badā, and states that it is important to know the best interest behind these two provisions. While the abroga-tion of provisions happens with the change in best interests known and supervised by Allah, the change in provisions happens with relevant best interests becoming known in later periods in badā. It is not possible to become known later in the knowledge of Allah.