The verse of stoning and suckling being eaten by the Goat

Christian Missionaries have led a new dishonest campaign of an apparent “proof” that Muslims have corrupted the Quran. Their argument is a Hadith from Sunan Ibn Majah which apparently demonstrates a goat eating the absent verse of suckling and stoning. I will touch on this topic as i go on.

Before we begin we must clarify on the concept of ‘Naskh’ (abrogation)

There are three types of abrogation in the Quran…

Ibn Salama says:

The scholars have divided abrogation into three kinds:

1)Abrogation of the recited (verse) together with the legal ruling.

2)Abrogation of the legal ruling without the recited (verse).

3)Abrogation of the recited (verse) without the legal ruling.

[1] Al-nasikh wa al-mansukh by Ibn Salama pg 5

Ahmad von Denffer said:

For abrogation of the recited (verse) together with its legal ruling:

‘A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported that it had been revealed in the Holy Qur’an that ten clear sucklings make the marriage unlawful, then it was abrogated (and substituted) by five sucklings and Allah’s apostle (may peace be upon him) died and it was before that time (found) in the Holy Qur’an (and recited by the Muslims). [34 Muslim, II, No. 3421.]

For abrogation of a legal ruling without the recited (verse):

‘O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou has paid their dowers; and those whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom God has assigned to thee; and daughters of thy paternal uncles and aunts and daughters of thy maternal uncles and aunts, who migrated (from Makka) with thee; and any believing woman who dedicates her soul to the Prophet if the Prophet wishes to wed her; – this only for thee and not for the believers (at large);We know what we have appointed for them as to their wives and the captives whom their right hands possess; – in order that there should be no difficulty for thee and God is oft-forgiving, most merciful’ (33: 50).

‘It is not lawful for thee (to marry more) women after this, nor to change them for (other) wives, even though their beauty attract thee, except any thy right hand should possess (as handmaidens); and God doth watch over all things’ (33: 52).

This is one of the few very clear examples of naskh, though only concerning the Prophet specifically, since for Muslims in general the number of wives has been restricted to four. (Sura 4:3).

For abrogation of the recited (verse) without the legal ruling:

‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas reported that ‘Umar bin Khattab sat on the pulpit of Allah’s messenger (may peace be upon him) and said: Verily Allah sent Muhammad (may peace be upon him) with truth and he sent down the book upon him, and the verse of stoning was included in what was sent down to him. We recited it, retained it in our memory and understood it. Allah’s messenger (may peace be upon him) awarded the punishment of stoning to death (to the married adulterer and adulteress) and after him, we also awarded the punishment of stoning. I am afraid that with the lapse of time, the people (may forget it) and may say: We do not find the punishment of stoning in the book of Allah, and thus go astray by abandoning this duty prescribed by Allah. Stoning is a duty laid down in Allah’s book for married men and women who commit adultery when proof is established, or if there is pregnancy or a confession. [Muslim, III, No. 4194; Bukhari, VIII, No. 816.]

The punishment of stoning for adultery by married people has been retained in the sunna, while it is not included in the Qur’an .

[2] Ulum al Qur’an

Now we move to the Hadith about the suckling and stoning

Here are the hadiths which supposedly speak about the “missing verse” from the Qur’an:

It was narrated that ‘Aishah said:
“The Verse of stoning and of breastfeeding an adult ten times was revealed1, and the paper was with me under my pillow. When the Messenger of Allah died, we were preoccupied with his death, and a tame sheep came in and ate it.”

[3] Sunan ibn Majah Vol. 3, Book 9, Hadith 1944

Ironically the ‘Sunnah.com’ website clearly also stated in the footnotes that this verse was abrogated. For proof see https://sunnah.com/urn/1262630 []

Meaning this verse was not wanted by the Prophet to be in the Quran (as we will see later on).

More explicit evidences which we know that this verse was abrogated despite the proof shown above is the narration found in other Hadiths(which Aisha herself mentions the abrogation)

A’isha (Allah be pleased with, her) reported that it had been revealed in the Holy Qur’an that ten clear sucklings make the marriage unlawful, then it was abrogated (and substituted) by five sucklings and Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) died and it was before that time (found) in the Holy Qur’an (and recited by the Muslims).

[4] Sahih Book 8 Hadith 3421

Yahya related to me from Malik from Abdullah ibn Abi Bakr ibn Hazm from Amra bint Abd ar-Rahman that A’isha, the wife of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Amongst what was sent down of the Qur’an was ‘ten known sucklings make haram’ – then it was abrogated by ‘five known sucklings’. When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, died, it was what is now recited of the Qur’an.” Yahya said that Malik said, “One does not act on this.”

[5] Malik’s Muwatta Book 30 Hadith 17

Imam Nawawi says in his commentary on Sahih Muslim:

There is a dumma on the letter ya’a and it means that the abrogation of the five sucklings came very late until the time that the Prophet (peace be upon him) died and a few people were reciting the five sucklings verse making it part of the Qur’an for they might not have been informed of its abrogation. So when he (Muhammad peace be upon him) did inform them afterwards they stopped reciting it and formed a consensus that this verse should not be recited anymore.

[6] Sharh Sahih Muslim, Kitab: Al Ridaa’, Bab: Al Tahreem Bi Khams Ridaa’aat, Commentary on hadith no.2634

Al Sindi says in his commentary on Sunan Al Nisaa’i:

It is said that the five’s (verse on five sucklings) recitation has been abrogated and its abrogation came near the death of the Prophet (peace be upon him) so some people weren’t informed about it. So they used to recite it but when the Prophet (peace be upon him) died they left its recitation.

[7] Sharh Sunan Al Nisaa’i, Kitab: Al Nikah, Bab: Al Qadar Allazhi Yuharrim Min Al Ridaa’aa, Commentary on Hadith no. 3255

Muhammad Shams al-Haqq al-Adhim Abadi says in his commentary on Sunan Abu Dawud:

And what this means is that the abrogation by five sucklings was revealed very late to the extent that when the Prophet (peace be upon him) died, some people were still reciting the verse of five sucklings and making it part of recited Qur’an for they were not informed about its abrogation but when they were after that, they went back on that and formed a consensus on that this verse must not be recited. And abrogation is of three types: One of them is that its ruling and recitation be abrogated just like the ten sucklings verse. And the second is that its recitation has been abrogated without its ruling just like the five sucklings verse…

[8] Awn al-Mabud Sharh Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitab: Al 
Nikah, Bab: Hal Yuhharram Ma Doona Khamsa Ridaa’aat, Commentary on hadith no. 1765

Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid said:

For breastfeeding to have the effect of transmitting its benefits from the nursing woman to the child suckled, it must meet certain conditions, which are:

1.The breastfeeding must happen within the first two years of the child’s life, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “The mothers shall give suck to their children for two whole years, (that is) for those (parents) who desire to complete the term of suckling.” [al-Baqarah 2:233].

2.The number of breastfeedings must total the known five feeds, in which the child eats his fill as if eating and drinking. If the child leaves the breast for a reason, such as to take a breath or to switch from one breast to the other, this (i.e., each separate time the child latches on) is not counted as one breastfeeding. This is the opinion of al-Shaafa’i, and the opinion favoured by Ibn al-Qayyim. The definition of rad’ah (one breastfeeding) is when the child sucks at the breast and drinks until the milk enters his stomach, then he leaves the breast of his own accord. The evidence for the number five (number of breastfeedings) is the report from ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) who said: “There was in the Qur’aan [an aayah which stipulated that] ten [was the number of] breastfeedings which created the relationship of mahram, then this was abrogated [by another aayah which stipulated] five. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) died and [the aayah which stipulated five] was still being recited as part of the Qur’aan.” (Reported by Muslim, 1452). In other words, the abrogation came so late that when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) died, some people had not yet heard that this aayah had been abrogated, but when they heard that it had been abrogated, they stopped reciting it, and agreed that it should not be recited, although the ruling mentioned in the aayah remained in effect. This is an abrogation of the recitation without abrogation of the ruling, which is one type of abrogation

[9] http://63.175.194.25/index.php?ln=eng&ds=qa&lv=browse&QR=2864&dgn=4

We can clearly see that the evidence shows that the consensus amongst the companions of the Prophet was that the verse’s recitation was meant to be abrogated and it was also commanded by the Prophet to abrogate this verse. However, the command came just a very short while before the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) death and therefore not everyone was informed about it and some still thought that it was still a recited part of the Quran. However, once they have been informed that the Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered its abrogation, then they stopped reciting it. 

Whether the goat the verse or not is something that should not be the concern of the Christian missionaries since the verse was not meant to be part of the Quran in the first place.

And here a few more proofs against this

Al-Baaqilaani said:

There is no one on the face of the earth more ignorant than one who thinks that the Messenger and the Sahaabah(the companions) were all careless with regard to the Qur’an and that they would not memorise it and learn it by heart, and that they would rely for confirming it on a sheet that was placed under the bed of ‘Aa’ishah only, a sheet that was thrown on the floor and disrespected, until the neighbourhood sheep came in and ate it, resulting in the loss of that sheet and whatever was written on it! 

We wonder what it was that could have allegedly led the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) to such negligence, helplessness and carelessness, when he had been entrusted with the religion and had been instructed to protect it and preserve it, and to appoint scribes to write it, as he had a large number of people who were skilled in the field of writing, whose main task was to write down the Qur’an that was revealed to him, and to write down covenants, deeds, trusts and other matters that might occur or be connected to the Messenger, especially since there was a need to keep a record of it. 

The main task of the Messenger (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) was only to explain and protect the Qur’an, and protect the religion; he had no occupation or any other worldly concerns to distract him from that, except some efforts he might undertake to support and reinforce the religion, and to promote and explain the Qur’an. Otherwise, how could it be possible that all of these people and all of the Sahaabah would not be aware of the verses about breastfeeding and stoning, so that no one would know about them or refer to them, except ‘Aa’ishah alone? 

Therefore, based on what we have described about how the Messenger was devoted to conveying the message, and the Sahaabah were keen to learn and memorise it, it is not possible that they could have lost something of the Book of Allah, may He be exalted, whether it was small or great; people of such calibre should be the greatest of people in memorising it and preserving what was revealed of it and what happened concerning it, such as the dates when it was revealed, the reasons for revelation, and what abrogated and was abrogated.

[10] al-Intisaar li’l-Qur’an (1/412-418) 

Ibn Hazm said:

It was proven that the wording was abrogated, but the sheet on which it was written remained, as ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said – then it was eaten by the tame sheep; but no one needs it (that verse). Something similar may be said with regard to the verse on breastfeeding, and there is no difference between the two. The proof of that is that they memorised (the verse) as we have mentioned. So if it was confirmed as being part of the Qur’an, the fact that the sheep ate it would not have changed the fact that it was part of the Qur’an, based on the fact that they had memorised it. 

Thus we may conclude with certainty that no two Muslims differ concerning the fact that Allah, may He be exalted, enjoined upon His Messenger (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) the conveying of the message, and that he (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) conveyed it as he had been instructed to do. … And we may conclude, with regard to the verses that were lost, that if the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) had been instructed to convey them, he would have done so, and if he had conveyed them they would have been memorised, and if they had been memorised then the death of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) would not affect the matter at all, just as the fact that he (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) died did not affect anything else of what he had conveyed of the Qur’an.

[11] al-Muhalla (12/177)         

Al-Alusi said:

With regard to the additional material having been on a page that was kept with ‘Aa’ishah and was eaten by the tame sheep, it is a fabrication and lie of the heretics that this was lost as the result of being eaten by a tame sheep without being abrogated. This is what it says in al-Kashshaaf.

[12] Rooh al-Ma‘aani (11/140) 

Later on the Hadith about 5 breastfeedings were also abrogated in front of the Prophet as narrated by Aisha

‘Indeed ten breastfeeds were mentioned in the Quran (as making marriage unlawful through foster relation), then it was changed by five and there was nothing but it was abrogated in the presence of the Prophet.’

[13] Musannaf Abdul Razzaq, Hadith 13928

Matter of fact Islam Q/A says it is weak(daif):

This difference was sufficient for the scholars of hadith to rule that the version narrated by Muhammad ibn Ishaaq was da‘eef (weak), and that it was to be rejected and regarded as odd. 

To sum up, the story of the sheep eating a page of the Holy Qur’an in the house of ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) is da‘eef (weak) and is not proven. 

[14] Islam Q/A answer no 175355

Note: The Muhammad Ibn Ishaaq narration of the Hadith is the Sunan Ibn Majah one(which we see is weak)

Other evidences which also proves Muhammad Ibn Ishaq(the transmitter of the Hadith in Sunan Ibn Majah) is weak are the following:

Its isnaad is da‘eef because the only one who narrated it was Muhammad ibn Ishaaq, and its text contains something odd.

[15]  Mu’sasat ar-Risaalah edn (43/343)

Mufti Ebrahim Desai also agrees the same

The narration mentioned in the query is also weak. Muhammed bin Ishaq, who is considered to be a weak narrator, is present in the chain of narrators.

Besides the fact that it is a weak narration, the aayaat written on the piece of paper were not part of the Quran at that time, but they were made naskh(Abrogation) before the demise of Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), as mentioned in 5) and 6).

[16] https://islamqa.org/hanafi/askimam/581

Islam Web also has the view:

However, the two mentioned verses were abrogated: the verse about breastfeeding was abrogated both in terms of its recitation and its ruling, and the verse about stoning, its recitation was abrogated and its ruling remained in effect. It is for this reason that the Companions  did not write them in the compiled copy of the Quran. 

[17] Islam Web: Fatwa no 182309

With regards to more evidence against the verse of “stoning” here a few:

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:

‘Umar said, “I am afraid that after a long time has passed, people may say, “We do not find the Verses of the Rajam (stoning to death) in the Holy Book,” and consequently they may go astray by leaving an obligation that Allah has revealed. Lo! I confirm that the penalty of Rajam be inflicted on him who commits illegal sexual intercourse, if he is already married and the crime is proved by witnesses or pregnancy or confession.” Sufyan added, “I have memorized this narration in this way.” ‘Umar added, “Surely Allah’s Apostle carried out the penalty of Rajam, and so did we after him.”

[18] Sahih Bukhari Volume 8 Book 82 Hadith 816

‘Abdullah b. ‘Abbas reported that ‘Umar b. Khattab sat on the pulpit of Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) and said: Verily Allah sent Muhammad (may peace be upon him) with truth and He sent down the Book upon him, and the verse of stoning was included in what was sent down to him. We recited it, retained it in our memory and understood it. Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) awarded the punishment of stoning to death (to the married adulterer and adulteress) and, after him, we also awarded the punishment of stoning, I am afraid that with the lapse of time, the people (may forget it) and may say: We do not find the punishment of stoning in the Book of Allah, and thus go astray by abandoning this duty prescribed by Allah. Stoning is a duty laid down in Allah’s Book for married men and women who commit adultery when proof is established, or it there is pregnancy, or a confession.

[19] Sahih Muslim Book 17 Hadith 4194

Imam ibn Hajar Al Asqalani says:

Umar said: “When this verse came down I approached the Prophet peace be upon him so I asked him: Should I write it down?’ It is as if he hated that” Then Umar said: “Cant you see that if the old man if he commits adultery he does not get the whip, and that if the young man if he commits adultery he gets stoned?” 

[20] Fath Al Bari, Kitab: Al Hudood, Bab: Al I’tiraaf bil Zina, Commentary on Hadith no. 6327

In the verse whose recitation has been abrogated but its ruling remained, and it has happened what Umar feared. A tribe from the Khawarij or most of them and some of the Mu’tazilites rejected the stoning. And it was reported by Abd al Razzaq and Al Tabari from another view that Ibn Abbas said that Umar said “There will come a people that will lie (or disbelieve) in the stoning”

[21] Fath Al Bari, Kitab: Al Hudood, Bab: Rajam Al Hublah min Zana Eezha Ahsanat,Commentary on Hadith no. 6328

Imam Nawawi says in his commentary:

And this is whose recitation has been abrogated and its ruling remained.  And the companions of the Prophet abandoning the writing of this verse is clear evidence that the abrogated should not be written in the Quran and that Umar’s statement about the stoning as he is on the pulpit and the silence of the companions and other than them from who were present from opposing him is evidence about the ruling of the stoning (still being implemented)

[22] Sharh Saheeh Muslim, Kitab: Al Hudood, Bab: Rajam Al Thayb fil Zina, Commentary on Hadith no. 3201

Al Sindi says in his commentary:

The verse of stoning: Its recitation has been abrogated and its ruling still remains in effect.

[23] Sharh Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab: Al Hudood, Bab: Al Rajam, Commentary on Hadith no. 2543

Muhammad Shams al-Haqq al-Adhim Abadi says in his commentary on Sunan Abu Dawud:

And this is whose recitation has been abrogated but ruling remains in effect.

[24] l-Haqq al-Adhim Abadi, Awn al-Mabud Sharh Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitab: Al Hudood, Bab: Fil Rajam, Commentary on Hadith no. 3835

“‘O Messenger of Allah, let the verse about stoning be written for me.’ He (the Prophet) said, ‘I can’t do this.'”

[25] Sunan Al-Kubra Baihiqi 8/211 

It is reported in a narration from Kathir bin Salt that: Zaid (b. Thabit) said: ‘I heard the Messenger of Allah say, ‘When a married man or woman commit adultery stone them both (to death)’, (hearing this) Amr said,
‘When this was revealed I came to Prophet and asked if I could write it, he (the Prophet) disliked it.’

[26] Mustadrik Al-Hakim, Hadith 8184

Conclusion:

The verse of stoning and suckling were abrogated and not meant to be part of the Quran as all the overwhelming proof presented above proves so. Whether the goat ate any verse of the Quran or not is not something Christians or anyone should even have any concern about because that paper was useless anyway. Since the Prophet himself did not want it to be written and the agreement between his companions and the scholars also explicitly confirms this.

Sources:

[1] Al-nasikh wa al-mansukh by Ibn Salama pg 5

[2] Ulum al Qur’an

[3] Sunan ibn Majah Vol. 3, Book 9, Hadith 1944

[4] Sahih Book 8 Hadith 3421

[5] Malik’s Muwatta Book 30 Hadith 17

[6] Sharh Sahih Muslim, Kitab: Al Ridaa’, Bab: Al Tahreem Bi Khams Ridaa’aat, Commentary on hadith no.2634

[7] Sharh Sunan Al Nisaa’i, Kitab: Al Nikah, Bab: Al Qadar Allazhi Yuharrim Min Al Ridaa’aa, Commentary on Hadith no. 3255

[8] Awn al-Mabud Sharh Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitab: Al 
Nikah, Bab: Hal Yuhharram Ma Doona Khamsa Ridaa’aat, Commentary on hadith no. 1765

[9] http://63.175.194.25/index.php?ln=eng&ds=qa&lv=browse&QR=2864&dgn=4

[10] al-Intisaar li’l-Qur’an (1/412-418) 

[11] al-Muhalla (12/177)         

[12] Rooh al-Ma‘aani (11/140) 

[13] Musannaf Abdul Razzaq, Hadith 13928

[14] Islam Q/A answer no 175355

[15] Mu’sasat ar-Risaalah edn (43/343)

[16] https://islamqa.org/hanafi/askimam/581

[17] Islam Web: Fatwa no 182309

[18] Sahih Bukhari Volume 8 Book 82 Hadith 816

[19] Sahih Muslim Book 17 Hadith 4194

[20] Fath Al Bari, Kitab: Al Hudood, Bab: Al I’tiraaf bil Zina, Commentary on Hadith no. 6327

[21] Fath Al Bari, Kitab: Al Hudood, Bab: Rajam Al Hublah min Zana Eezha Ahsanat,Commentary on Hadith no. 6328

[22] Sharh Saheeh Muslim, Kitab: Al Hudood, Bab: Rajam Al Thayb fil Zina, Commentary on Hadith no. 3201

[23] Sharh Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab: Al Hudood, Bab: Al Rajam, Commentary on Hadith no. 2543

[24] l-Haqq al-Adhim Abadi, Awn al-Mabud Sharh Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitab: Al Hudood, Bab: Fil Rajam, Commentary on Hadith no. 3835

[25] Sunan Al-Kubra Baihiqi 8/211

[26] Mustadrik Al-Hakim, Hadith 8184

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