"None of our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar- Knowest thou not that Allah hath power over all things?" 16:101
Abrogation is important when one is trying to understand the reasons behind the strict Islamic ruling which states that Muslims are not allowed to drink. For it seems that the Qur'an is not as clear on this matter as we have been led to believe.
So where in the Qur'an does it state that alcohol is haraam or forbidden? Here is a reply on a QA site written by Muslims to the question: Why is alcohol forbidden in Islam?
Intoxicants were forbidden in the Qur'an through several separate verses revealed at different times over a period of years. At first, it was forbidden for Muslims to attend to prayers while intoxicated (4:43). Then a later verse was revealed which said that alcohol contains some good and some evil, but the evil is greater than the good (2:219). This was the next step in turning people away from consumption of it. Finally, "intoxicants and games of chance" were called "abominations of Satan's handiwork," intended to turn people away from God and forget about prayer, and Muslims were ordered to abstain (5:90-91). (Note - the Qur'an is not arranged chronologically, so later verses of the book were not necessarily revealed after earlier verses.)This seems to be a full and reasonable answer and I'm sure many Muslims reading this would be reassured. Nonetheless, those who know their Qur'an well will immediately realise that an important verse has been omitted from the seemingly authoritative explanation.
Surah 16 (Nahl) has many verses describing the beneficence of Allah which enumerate what He has provided for us.
Allah sendeth down water from the sky and therewith revives the earth after her death! Lo! herein is indeed a portent for a folk who hear. 16:65
And lo! in the cattle there is a lesson for you. We give you to drink of that which is in their bellies, from betwixt the refuse and the blood, pure milk palatable to the drinkers. 16:66
And thy Lord inspired the bee, saying: Choose thou habitations in the hills and in the trees and in that which they thatch;
Then eat of all fruits, and follow the ways of thy Lord, made smooth (for thee). There cometh forth from their bellies a drink diverse of hues, wherein is healing for mankind. Lo! herein is indeed a portent for people who reflect. 16: 68-69
...and in the very middle of this list of the wonderful things which Allah has provided for us comes...ALCOHOL:
And of the fruits of the date palm, and grapes, whence ye derive strong drink and (also) good nourishment. Lo! therein, is indeed a sign for people who have sense.
Isn't it strange how the good people at about.islam.com neglected to mention this verse? Perhaps it was an oversight and other Islamic sites do better. Here's another one which mentions the many verses which tell Muslims how angry Allah will be if they drink or gamble but signally fails to give their readers the full picture.
Why is this do you think?
Might it be that the doctrine of abrogation begins to look a little desperate when the verses stand in such blatant contradiction to each other? How can Allah on the one hand say alcohol is a gift to humanity in the same way as water, milk and honey are, and then later perform a complete volt-face so that it is utterly forbidden. Are the keepers of the mysteries of Islam worried that if they allow the full picture to emerge, Muslims will start to question the whole dubious doctrine of abrogation?
Now before I go any further I perhaps need to mention that there are some Islamic sites (such as the despicable quranandscience.com) which mention 16:67. But strangely enough the translations they give leave out any suggestion that the verse refers to alcoholic drink. Here's a typical example:
Note: Before any Muslim tells me that they AREN'T allowed to drink alcohol...I know. It was meant to be nothing more than a thought-provoking title...and I hope readers HAVE thought a little more about the issue of alcohol and how and when it came to be haraam.