Salam Guys,

I have a question that has been seriously bothering me for a while.

In tafsir Al-Qurtubi and Itqan by Suyuti a narration has been quoted that shows that Surah At-Tawbah was originally equal to the length of Surah Baqarah. Here is the reference from Itqan by Suyuti:-

Malik says that several verses from chapter 9 (Sura of Repentance) have been dropped from the beginning. Among them is, ‘In the name of God the compassionate, the Merciful’ because it was proven that the length of Sura of Repentance was equal to the length of the Sura of the Cow." - (The Itqan" by Suyuti Part 3, Page 184/ Itqan by Suyuti, part 3, page 72)

Here is what Al-Qurtubu records in his Tafsir:-

Malik said among what had been narrated by Ibn Wahb and Ibn Al Qasim and Ibn Abdul Hakam is that when the first part of Surat Bara'at was lost, ‘Bismillah Al Rahman Al Raheem’ was also lost along with it. It has also been narrated from Ibn Ajlan that he heard that Surat Bara'at was equal to the length of Surat Al Baqarah or approximately equal to it, so the part was gone and because of that "Bismillah Al Rahman Al Raheem" wasn't written between them (between the lost and the remaining part) .” (Tafsir al-Qurtubi on Surah al Bara'at)

Some say that it is referring to abrogation of those verses. But why does Imam Malik said that these verses were lost?

Imam Malik ibn Anas was asked as to why there is no "Bismillah" in this surah. He said, "It was lost with its earlier parts, because it is confirmed that it was equal to surah al-Baqarah in length.

But the main question is that is there any evidence from the Koran or authentic Hadiths that proves that many verses of Surah Tawbah were abrogated?

  • Do you have any information on how they explained 'it was proven' that the lengths were the same? Commented Sep 2, 2020 at 18:20
  • @MoziburUllah - No. I found this quote online. But I never found any explanation, so I asked in here so that any person of knowledge would address this issue.
    – Ren
    Commented Sep 2, 2020 at 18:21
  • 1
    Abrogation is quoted and proved within the qur'an in a couple of verses. However there are different kinds of abrogation among them verses that no more exist in the final revision of the qur'an. There further are ahadith informing us that surat al-Ahzab has a similar length to that of al-Baqara. There are some posts addressing this topic more or less directly on the site please check them. Why are you sharing a user-site instead of the source of your inquired quotes?
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Sep 2, 2020 at 19:57
  • Most scholars consider the names of surahs as canonical therefore it is inappropriate to translate them.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Sep 2, 2020 at 22:59

2 Answers 2


By "lost" Imam Malik means "gone" i.e. "abrogated." He doesn't mean someone "misplaced" it which is why we no longer have it.

Basically, what Imam Malik said is that there were narrations from the Sahabah that Surah Tawbah used to be as long as Surah Baqarah. And he used this as evidence (because Surah Tawbah isn't currently as long as Baqarah) that there were other verses alongside the Basmalah that were in it, but are now abrogated.

This is the original quote in Tafsir Qurtubi:

وَقَالَ مَالِكٌ فِيمَا رَوَاهُ ابْنُ وَهْبٍ وَابْنُ الْقَاسِمِ وَابْنُ عَبْدِ الْحَكَمِ: إِنَّهُ لما سقط أو لها سَقَطَ بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ مَعَهُ. وَرُوِيَ ذَلِكَ عَنِ ابْنِ عَجْلَانَ أَنَّهُ بَلَغَهُ أَنَّ سُورَةَ "بَرَاءَةٌ" كَانَتْ تَعْدِلُ الْبَقَرَةَ أَوْ قُرْبَهَا فَذَهَبَ مِنْهَا فَلِذَلِكَ لَمْ يُكْتَبْ بَيْنَهُمَا بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ.

The word translated as "lost" in your translation is "سَقَطَ."

The evidence that he does not mean "misplaced" is that another narration from Imam Malik exists that elaborates on this particular narration in Tafsir Al-Qurtubi you quoted. Ibn Atiyah says:

وروي عن مالك أنه قال: بلغنا أنها كانت نحو سورة البقرة ثم نسخ ورفع كثير منها وفيه البسملة

It was narrated from Imam Malik that he said: It reached us that it was as long as Surah Baqarah. Then, a lot of it was abrogated and taken up and among that (the abrogated) was the Basmalah. (Tafsir Ibn Atiyah 3/3)

(Translation is mine)

Here, rather than "سَقَطَ", Imam Malik clearly says "abrogated and taken up."

In addition, saying Imam Malik meant "misplaced" doesn't make sense in context. This is because he says the Basmalah was also "lost" alongside it. In what sense, could someone claim the Basmalah is misplaced?

  1. We have the letter by letter Basmalah obviously.

  2. Imam Malik says we have knowledge that the Basmalah was part of Surah Tawbah.

So, in what sense could one claim the Basmalah was misplaced from Surah Tawbah?

In my opinion, "lost" was poor choice in translation, but even in English "lost" doesn't need to mean "misplaced." For example, if someone says: "I lost a million dollars," does he mean he misplaced them? No, he means he used to have them but for some reason no longer has them.

It is clear, then, that Imam Malik is saying it was abrogated as elaborated in the other narration.

As for evidence from the Quran that the earlier parts of Surah Tawbah are abrogated, that is easy. Open a mushaf. Do you see those parts of Surah Tawbah? If not, it was abrogated. The Quran is a mutawatir narration. It is its own proof that Surah Tawbah's verses are abrogated. No one narrated those verses to us, hence it is clear the Sahabah agreed on their abrogation (if they existed).

  • Setting "lost" as a synonym of "رفع" is simply a bad translation. However "بلغنا" is not a strong statement in the terminology of hadith. As it includrs a kind of doubt.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Sep 2, 2020 at 22:50
  • "Setting "lost" as a synonym of "رفع" is simply a bad translation." Not entirely sure what you mean. As for "بلغنا", you are right, but my intention was to clarify Imam Malik's statement, not to prove whether what he is narrating is authentic or not.
    – The Z
    Commented Sep 2, 2020 at 23:00
  • My intention was only to emphasize that this translation OP is using is bad. Your answer on that part is good however iMO it would be better trying to find thd original quote of imam al-Qurtobti instead of another similar quote.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Sep 2, 2020 at 23:04
  • Ok, I see. The original from Imam al-Qurtubi uses the word سَقَطَ which they translated to "lost." What do you think of that translation?
    – The Z
    Commented Sep 2, 2020 at 23:33
  • 1
    "lost" and "سقط" are a better fit, but still the context is telling us that it was "taken up" or "deleted". But as I often say translation is a kind of interpretation and the result depends on what the interpretor had in mind when translating.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Sep 3, 2020 at 5:30

That certain verses were abrogated is shown to be supported by several surahs, including ayat 16:11

And when We put a revelation in place of (another) revelation - and Allah knows best what He reveals ...

and also ayat 13:39

And Allah effaceth what He will, and establisheth what He will and with Him is the source of all Ordinance ...

And also what is called the Surah of Abrogation, 2:106

What We abrogate of a sign or We cause it to be forgotten, We bring better than it, or similar to it. Do you not know that over everything Allah is All-Powerful?

And also:

When We substitute one revelation for (another) revelation - and Allah knows best what He reveals in stages. They say, 'thou art but a forger'. But most of them understand not.

However, according to Looay Fatouhi, who in a study of Qu'ranic abrogation published in 2018 wrote:

The term naskh (abrogation) never appears in the Qu'ran in the meaning that it acquired in Islamic Law

And that a detailed study of two Qu'ranic verses

Seen by scholars as providing support to the principle of abrogation [shows that neither] actually refers to the concept of abrogation.

In other words, this is a complex question - when dug into - and is not going to be answered in a Q&A site.

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