Allah Addressing the Prophet vs Allah Addressing the Believers

Badr al-Deen ibn Jamaa’ah, one of the teachers of al-haafidh ibn Kathir, wrote the following point of benefit in his book discussing the slight differences of wordings between otherwise similar ayaat:

مسألة: قوله تعالى: (قُولُوا آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْنَا). وفى آل عمران: (قُلْ آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَيْنَا). ـ

Question: Allah says:

قُولُوا آمَنَّا بِاللَّـهِ وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْنَا

Say (O believers), “We have believed in Allah and what has been revealed to us …” [2:136]

but in surah Aal ‘Imran He says:

قُلْ آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَيْنَا

Say (O Prophet), “We believe in Allah and what has been revealed on us …” [3:84]

جوابه: لما صدر آية البقرة بقوله: (قُولُوا) وهو خطاب المسلمين ردا على قول أهل الكتاب: (كُونُوا هُودًا أَوْ نَصَارَى) قال: (إلينا) . ولما صدر آية آل عمران بقوله: قل قال: (علينا) . والفرق بينهما: أن (إلى) ينتهي بها من كل جهة، و (على) لا ينتهى بها إلا من جهة واحدة وهي: العلو. والقرآن يأتي المسلمين من كل جهة يأتي مبلغه إياهم منها، وإنما أتى النبى ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ من جهة العلو خاصة، فحسن وناسب قوله: (علينا) لقوله: قل مع فضل تنويع الخطاب. وكذلك أكثرها جاء في جهة النبى ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ ب (على) ، وأكثر ما جاء ق جهة الأمة ب (إلى) . ـ

Response: That is because the ayah in surah al-Baqarah begins with Allah’s statement:

قُولُوا

Say (O believers) … [2:136]

which is addressing the believers in response to what the Ahl al-Kitab said, which was:

كُونُوا هُودًا أَوْ نَصَارَى

Be Jews or Christians … [2:135]

He therefore said:

وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْنَا

“… and what has been revealed to us …” [2:136]

While the ayah of surah Aal ‘Imran begins with Allah’s statement

قُلْ

Say (O Prophet) … [3:84]

He therefore said:

وَمَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَيْنَا

“… and what has been revealed on us …” [3:84]

And the difference between these two prepositions is that

إلى

to

can be used for something coming from any direction while

على

on

can only be used for something coming from one particular direction, which is from above.

The Qur’an comes to the Muslims from any direction, coming and reaching them wherever they are, but it only comes to the Prophet from the direction of above. Therefore it is fitting and appropriate that Allah said:

عَلَيْنَا

… on us … [3:84]

along with saying:

قُلْ

Say (O Prophet) … [3:84]

to complement the different forms of address.

And in the same way, most of what is mentioned regarding the Prophet is mentioned using

على

on

while most of what is mentioned regarding the ummah is mentioned using

إلى

to

[Kashf al-Ma’aani pg 107-108]

See also: Guidance elevates and misguidance debases: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: There has Certainly Been an Excellent Example for You in Ibrahim

2 thoughts on “Allah Addressing the Prophet vs Allah Addressing the Believers

  1. Pingback: There has Certainly Been an Excellent Example for You in Ibrahim | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 130-141: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar | Tulayhah

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