centuries and their peoples are sitting in tiers rising up behind him. This makes him aware that the address and call directed towards him is being heard by all of them according to its volume. Yes, it is a divine address from which all the rows of men in all the centuries receive their share. Thus, the past is real for most people most of the time, while for a few a little of the time it is metaphorical. So to take the majority into consideration serves better the purposes of eloquence.
And in the use of “to you (ilayka)” rather than ‘on you’ (‘alayka) is a sign that the divine messengership was a duty with which the Prophet (Upon whom be blessings and peace) was charged, that he undertook voluntarily. Also [on the one hand] it indicates his loftiness since Gabriel served him by presenting [the Qur’an] to him, for ‘on’ (‘alā) hints of compulsion and that the means of revelation was higher. While [on the other] the use of the second person “to you” rather than [the third person] ‘to Muhammad’ implies that Muhammad (Upon whom be blessings and peace) was only an addressee and that the speech is Allah’s Word. Moreover, in meaning, the direct address of the vocative confirms and illustrates the meaning of that which is sent down or revealed (al-nuzūl), and this is the Revelation (al-waḥy), and the Revelation is the Qur’an, which is a divine address [to the Prophet] the character of which is to permeate all these [points]. And this reveals his share of this characteristic. Thus, it becomes clear by reason of its encompassing all these subtle points that this passage is of the utmost conciseness.
“And that which was revealed before you (wa mā unzila min qablika)”
Consider this: the purpose of descriptions like these is to arouse eagerness, and this implies [certain new] injunctions: “Believe in such-and-such, and make no distinction [between the prophets].” The phrase’s positioning and its ties [with what precedes it] comprise four subtle points:
Firstly: The argument from what is adduced to the evidence. It is like this:
“O men! If you believe in the Qur’an, believe also in the previous scriptures, for the Qur’an confirms their veracity and testifies to them.” This is indicated by “a confirmation of what went before.”(2:97)
Secondly: The argument from the evidence to what is adduced, like this:
“O People of the Book! If you believe in the past prophets and scriptures, you should also believe in the Qur’an and Muhammad (UWBP), for the scriptures gave the good news of his coming. Moreover, confirmation of them, and their revelation and evidences of the messengers’ prophet