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There are three explanations to which Muslims resort in their attempt to account for the loss of the verse, namely:—

(1) That it was abrogated. But where is the abrogating verse. On the contrary, as we have seen it was the other verses about adultery that were abrogated by this verse.

(2) That it was forgotten. But we have already seen that it was neither forgotten by the Prophet nor by the Companions. And wherein, may we ask, would the wisdom be in revealing a verse and then blotting it from memory, especially when the effect of the verse was intended to remain?

(3) That it was neglected. In his 'Sharhu'l-Minhaj', ibn Hajar says that the reason for abrogating the text and for keeping its effect was to lighten its burden, which Muslims think a heavy one, nay the heaviest. In other words the believer was not to be deterred from this sin, for he was to be kept in ignorance of the fact that God had sent down a text, which invokes the most horrible judgement on adulterers. We


fail to see the mercy, wisdom or justice of this. The only true explanation, therefore, is that the verse was disliked, neglected, then dropped out of the Qur'an.

We see from what has gone before that the verse was read not only in the days of Muhammad, but in the khaliphate of Abu Bakr also, by the evidence of the fact that 'Umar would fain have recorded it in the Qur'an. And it was only through sheer fear of blame that 'Umar desisted from inserting it lest he should be blamed for 'adding to the Book of God'. We wonder, however, that he should claim to be the sole witness to the verse when we know that many others were cognizant of it. So either 'Umar, or the other Companions, did not speak the truth in this most serious matter which affects our whole estimate of the bona fides of those who edited the Qur'an.

But stranger still is the fact that the effect of this verse, though its text does not exist, is still in force and is confirmed by the sunnat.1 This is seen from the following:—

1. Az-Zuhri quotes a tradition from ibn 'Abbas saying: 'And 'Umar said, "I am afraid lest a time should come when people will say, 'We do not find stoning in the Book of God'," and thus they would err by neglecting a command sent down from God saying: "If an old man and an

1 For the meaning of sunnat see Faith of Islam (3rd ed.) pp. 18-26.

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