Is it correct to understand the ayat of the Quran as applicable to us, or are some verses when Allah was speaking to the messengers only applicable to them? For example, مَا وَدَّعَكَ رَبُّكَ وَمَا قَلَىٰ “Your Lord has never forsaken you, nor did He ever forget you.” [93:03] Can one understand this as Allah speaking to us as well? Which verses can we apply to our own lives and which ones are only interpreted in one way? Jazak Allah khairan
When it comes to understanding the Qur’an, then it is important that we first look to its Tafseer and understand the rules of interpretation. The scholars have mentioned that when it comes to the addresses found in the Qur’an, then sometimes they are made to the Prophet (ﷺ) directly and other times to mankind etc. In the verses in which Allah addresses His Messenger (ﷺ) specifically, are we too included in that address or not?
Shaikh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (d. 1421 H.), may Allah have mercy upon him, said:
“We clarified that the address that is directed to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) or is apparently directed at the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) divides into three categories:
- The first category: what is specific to him (ﷺ), definitively
- The second category: what is general for him (ﷺ) and his Ummah definitively
- The third category: what is not clear whether it is of the first type or the second.
As for the first category, is what is specific to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) definitively and there is no doubt about that. For example, Allah, the Exalted said: “Have We not opened your breast for you (O Muhammad (Peace be upon him))?” [94:1]. Allah says: “And He found you unaware (of the Quran, its legal laws, and Prophethood, etc.) and guided you?” [93:7]
And what resembles that of verses. The addresses here are to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) specifically not including the Ummah
As for the category that is addressed to him and his Ummah definitely, then an example is the statement of Allah: “O Prophet! When you divorce women” [65:1]. Allah did not say: ‘If you divorce your wife’, so that indicates that the address is specific to him and his nation because the address in the beginning is first to the Prophet (ﷺ), and then for the nation generally by use of the plural in the word divorce. So this indicates that a specific address to him is for him (ﷺ) and his nation.
As for the category which is not like the first or the second, then this one the scholars (may Allah have mercy upon him) differed over. Is it a specific address which is for the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and does not include the Ummah except by way of following his example or is it general for the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and other than him? The difference of opinion here is simply lexical because everyone agrees that the ruling is established for the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and for other than him. However, if we say it is a specific address to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), then it still remains general for other than him because they follow his example and take him as a role model. Thus, the ruling does not differ in reality because if the address [in the verse] does not include the Ummah in terms of its wording, then it includes them by way of ruling due to the command to follow the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ)”. End. [Tafseer Surah Ghaafir-Tape no. 16-Side A]
Now that we understand this point, we can return to the verse mentioned in the question. By examining the wording of [93:3] and the context it appears to be in the first category. Thus, it is specific to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ).
In relation to understanding which verses we can apply to our lives, then we should know that for the entire Qur’an is guidance for our lives. However, to know which verses can be applied to one area of life versus another, and which verses have more than one interpretation or only one, then we must return to the books of Tafseer. The scholars of Tafseer explain what the verses of the Qur’an mean according to the principles of Tafseer, and the lessons we can derive from them and apply in our lives. It is very important that we do not interpret a verse simply ourselves by reading it, but return to the experts in the field. Then we can understand the meaning of Allah’s words, the scope of interpretation, and how we can implement these verses in our lives just like how the Prophet (ﷺ) and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) did.
And Allah knows best
Faisal Abdul Qaadir bin Hassan