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Disiplinlerarası Çalışmalar Dergisi Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies

THE DEBATES ON ABROGATION (NASKH) BETWEEN THE MUSLIMS AND JEWS OF MEDINA IN LIGHT OF JUDAISM’S VIEWS OF PATRIARCH JACOB AND SHARIA

In this article, I undertake a new reading of the Qur’anic verse Al ‘Imran 93, which concerns Jacob—known as a “patriarch” in the Jewish tradition and as a “prophet” in the Islamic tradition—and the prohibitions he placed on himself. As I interpret the verse and decipher its meaning, I give particular attention to the relevant parts of the Torah and the Jewish religious tradition. Adopting the historical-phenomenological method of Comparative Religious Studies, I try to explain the ambiguous parts of the verse—such as “Israel,” “what Israel forbade for himself,” and Jewish understandings of “Torah”—with reference to the immediate context of the revelation of this verse (sabab al-nuzul). I also consider the relevant historical developments in Jewish religious history. In this way, based on my findings concerning the Jewish patriarch Jacob, I elucidate the historical-phenomenological background and the socio-cultural memory of the verse under study. In other words, combining the patriarch-prophet Jacob’s historical personality in both Judaism and Islam and their holy books, I argue that the verse in fact targeted the Jews of Medina, who rejected the occurrence of abrogation (naskh) in the divine laws. In this way, this study historically clarifies the idea of “what Israel forbade for himself,” which the Jews in Medina used to deny Prophet Muhammad’s prophecy. It argues that this prohibition is nothing more than the patriarch-prophet Jacob’s own practice. It also suggests that the Quranic verse under study rejects the notion that divine laws are beyond history or independent from the prophets’ own conditions. It thus underlines the error of the Medina Jews’ understanding of sharia in theological and historical terms.

Aynur Çınar

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