Benefits of Knowing the Order of Revelation
After mentioning the first and last revelation the following question arises, what is the benefit or benefits of knowing the order of revelation?
The benefits one derives from this knowledge are vast and many. We will suffice on mentioning the following:
The First Benefit
Knowledge of the abrogating and abrogated (Nasikh wa al Mansukh)
Sometimes one may find a verse contradicting another in such a manner that it cannot be reconciled. In this instance one will realise that the verse revealed first has been abrogated whilst the one coming after is the abrogating verse. Therefore, the latter will be acted upon and not the former.
Hereunder are a few examples:
- Giving charity before seeing Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِيْنَ آمَنُوْا إِذَا نَاجَيْتُمُ الرَّسُوْلَ فَقَدِّمُوْا بَيْنَ يَدَيْ نَجْوَاكُمْ صَدَقَةً ذٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ وَأَطْهَرُ فَإِن لَّمْ تَجِدُوْا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُوْرٌ رَّحِيْمٌ
O you who have believed, when you [wish to] privately consult the Messenger, present before your consultation a charity. That is better for you and purer. But if you find not [the means] – then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
This verse speaks of the command of giving in charity for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala before coming into the presence of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam if a person can. This command proved difficult for the Muslims and Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala in his infinite wisdom knowing of the past and future then revealed a second verse abrogating the command.
Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala revealed:
أَأَشْفَقْتُمْ أَن تُقَدِّمُوْا بَيْنَ يَدَيْ نَجْوَاكُمْ صَدَقَاتٍ فَإِذْ لَمْ تَفْعَلُوْا وَتَابَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْكُمْ فَأَقِيمُوْا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوْا الزَّكَاةَ وَأَطِيعُوْا اللَّهَ وَرَسُوْلَهُ وَاللَّهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُوْنَ
Have you feared to present before your consultation charities? Then when you do not and Allah has forgiven you, then [at least] establish prayer and give zakat and obey Allah and His Messenger. And Allah is Acquainted with what you do.
- Fearing Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala as he ought to be feared.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِيْنَ آمَنُوْا اتَّقُوْا اللَّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وَلَا تَمُوْتُنَّ إِلَّا وَأَنْتُمْ مُّسْلِمُوْنَ
O you who have believed, fear Allah as He should be feared and do not die except as Muslims [in submission to Him].
Fearing Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala as he ought to be feared means not disobeying him at all, showing gratitude to him at all times and remembering him the same.
The Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum said, “Who has the ability to do so O Messenger of Allah?”
Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala then abrogated this through his grace and revealed:
فَاتَّقُوْا اللَّهَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ
So fear Allah as much as you are able.
There are many other examples of this sort as will be mentioned under the discussion of al Nasikh wa al Mansukh.
The Second Benefit
Knowing the legislative date of the various commandments
We come to know that verses that made salah obligatory was revealed in Makkah before the hijrah. The verses that command the obligatory fasting and zakat were revealed in the second year of the hijrah and the verses that command the obligatory pilgrimage were revealed in the sixth year of the hijrah.
This knowledge gives us a timeline of the commands and their obligations.
Similarly, when we look at the verse:
أُذِنَ لِلَّذِيْنَ يُقَاتَلُوْنَ بِأَنَّهُمْ ظُلِمُوْا وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ نَصْرِهِمْ لَقَدِيْرٌ
Permission [to fight] has been given to those who are being fought, because they were wronged. And indeed, Allah is competent to give them victory.
We come to know that the verses legislating Jihad was revealed in the second year of the hijrah.
The Third Benefit
Knowledge of the gradual legislature of Islamic laws
Through this one will realize the great wisdom and kindness of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala upon his slaves. He is free from unjust harshness.
The gradual prohibition of wine:
The prohibition of wine went through three stages.
The first stage declares the harm of wine to be more than its benefit. This first revelation was to induce hatred towards it and encourage refraining from it.
Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala thus revealed:
يَسْئَلُوْنَكَ عَنِ الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ قُلْ فِيْهِما إِثْمٌ كَبِيْرٌ وَمَنافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَإِثْمُهُما أَكْبَرُ مِنْ نَفْعِهِما
They ask you about wine and gambling. Say, “In them is great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit.
The second stage was to prohibit wine at the approach of prayer so that no worshiper comes to pray whilst intoxicated.
Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala revealed:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِيْنَ آمَنُوْا لَا تَقْرَبُوْا الصَّلَاةَ وَأَنتُمْ سُكَارَىٰ حَتَّىٰ تَعْلَمُوْا مَا تَقُوْلُوْنَ
O you who have believed, do not approach prayer while you are intoxicated until you know what you are saying
The third stage was the total prohibition by way of the following verse:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِيْنَ آمَنُوْا إِنَّمَا الْخَمْرُ وَالْمَيْسِرُ وَالْأَنصَابُ وَالْأَزْلَامُ رِجْسٌ مِّنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَاجْتَنِبُوْهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُوْنَ
O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than Allah], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful.
إِنَّمَا يُرِيْدُ الشَّيْطَانُ أَنْ يُوْقِعَ بَيْنَكُمُ الْعَدَاوَةَ وَالْبَغْضَاءَ فِيْ الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ وَيَصُدَّكُمْ عَنْ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَعَنْ الصَّلَاةِ فَهَلْ أَنْتُم مُّنْتَهُوْنَ
Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So will you not desist?
Through the knowledge of gradual prohibition, we come to know that the first verse was that of Surah al Baqarah outlining the harms of wine. This followed by the verse of Surah al Nisa’ prohibiting wine at particular times. The concluding verses and the last law totally prohibiting wine was thus the verses of Surah al Ma’idah.
And Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala knows best.
 Surah al Mujadalah: 12.
 Surah al Mujadalah: 13.
 Surah Al ‘Imran: 102.
 Surah al Taghabun: 16.
 Surah al Haj: 39.
 Surah al Baqarah: 219.
 Surah al Nisa’: 43.
 Surah al Ma’idah: 90-91.