If it is established by date that one of the two seemingly contradictory evidence came first and the other came last, then the later one will be said to have abrogated the earlier one. For instance, if the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) gave a ruling before hijra to Madinah and gave another one t at contradicts that after hijra to Madinah, the ruling that came after the hijrah will be regarded as the naasikh (the abrogater) and that which came before hijra will be the mansukh (the abrogated).
Types of Abrogation
However, abrogation can also come in different ways which include:
1.Abrogation of Ruling with Retention of Recitation: Sometimes, the ruling is abrogated but the recitation still remains For instance, the verse; "And those of you who die and leave behind wives should bequeath for their wives a year’s maintenance and residence without turning them out but if they (wives) leave, there is no sin on you for that which they do of themselves, provided it is honourable (e.g lawful marriage).And Allaah is All-Mighty, AII-Wise". (Q2[Baqarah]:240)
The ruling of this verse has been abrogated by a verse of the Quran and a hadeeth. The Quran verse reads: "In that which your wives leave, your share is a half if they have no child; but if they leave a child, you get a fourth of that which they leave after payment of legacies that they may have bequeathed or debts. In that which you leave, their (your wives) share is a fourth if you leave no child; but if you leave a child, they get an eighth of that which you leave after payment of legacies that you may have bequeathed or debts. If the man or woman whose inheritance is in question has left neither ascendants nor descendants, but has left a brother or a sister, each one of the two gets a sixth; but if more than two, they share in a third; after payment of legacies he (or she) may have bequeathed or debts, so that no loss is caused (to anyone). This is a Commandment from Allaah; and Allaah is Ever All-Knowing, Most-Forbearing. (Q4[Al-lmran]:12)
The hadeeth also reads: "Surely Allaah has given everybody that deserves any right their rights, And there is no bequest for a heir" (Abu Dawud, Tirmithi).
2. Abrogation of Recitation with retention of Ruling: At times, the recitation of a verse may be abrogated but the ruling is still in practice. Examples of this are the verses of rajm (stoning to death for the adulterer) and that of breast feeding (i.e. five suckling prevent one marrying from the family of the suckler). The recitation of these two ruling is no more in the Quran but the ruling are still in practice as they were practiced by the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) and the Companions after him. However, it is very rare that both the recitation and the ruling of a verse be abrogated.
Can The Sunnah Abrogate The Quran?: Some scholars have said that the Sunnah cannot be used to abrogate the Quran. This is however, not correct according to the researchers among the scholars as the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said; "Beware! I have been given the Quran and something like it, yet the time is coming when a man reclining on his couch will say: Keep to the Quran; what you find in it to be permissible treat as permissible, and what you find in it to be prohibited treat as prohibited. Beware! The domestic ass, beasts of prey with fangs, a find belonging to confederate, unless its owner does not want it, are not permissible to you ..."(Abu Dawud),
From this, one can say that the rulings of the sunnah is equal to the rulings of the Quran and can also abrogate that of the Quran. This is because the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) was given the Quran to explain the laws of Allaah to mankind, Allaah says; "and We have also sent down unto you (Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wasallam) the Dhikr that you may explain clearly to men what is sent down to then...(Q16[Nahl]:44).
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited