In the Arabic Quran, the term “you” can be singular or plural. Some argue that if the singular form is used in the context of a commandment, then this only applies to Muhammad and not the believers. This viewpoint is inaccurate because it would imply that much of the Quran would be exclusive to the prophet and not be incumbent upon the believers.

The reason this is inaccurate is that much of the Quran is dialogues between parties e.g. Moses talking to God, Moses addressing Pharoah, Moses dealing with the Children of Israel, Luquman providing advice to his son…, and it is from much of these exchanges that we extract the commandments and lessons from the Quran. A good example of this can be seen in the following verse regarding people’s response to Qaroon.

[28:77] “Use the provisions bestowed upon you by GOD to seek the abode of the Hereafter, without neglecting your share in this world. Be charitable, as GOD has been charitable towards you. Do not keep on corrupting the earth. GOD does not love the corruptors.”

وَٱبْتَغِ فِيمَآ ءَاتَىٰكَ ٱللَّهُ ٱلدَّارَ ٱلْـَٔاخِرَةَ وَلَا تَنسَ نَصِيبَكَ مِنَ ٱلدُّنْيَا وَأَحْسِن كَمَآ أَحْسَنَ ٱللَّهُ إِلَيْكَ وَلَا تَبْغِ ٱلْفَسَادَ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ ٱلْمُفْسِدِينَ

1wa-ib’taghiوَٱبْتَغِ“But seek,
2fīmāفِيمَآthrough what
3ātākaءَاتَىٰكَ[He] gave you,
5l-dāraٱلدَّارَthe abode (of)
6l-ākhirataٱلْـَٔاخِرَةَthe Hereafter,
7walāوَلَاand (do) not
8tansaتَنسَyou forget
9naṣībakaنَصِيبَكَyour share
11l-dun’yāٱلدُّنْيَاthe world.
12wa-aḥsinوَأَحْسِنAnd be good / generous / charitable
14aḥsanaأَحْسَنَ[He] was good / generous / charitable
16ilaykaإِلَيْكَto you.
17walāوَلَاAnd (do) not
18tabghiتَبْغِyou seek
19l-fasādaٱلْفَسَادَ[the] corruption
21l-arḍiٱلْأَرْضِthe earth.
25yuḥibbuيُحِبُّ[He] loves
26l-muf’sidīnaٱلْمُفْسِدِينَthe corrupters.”

Extracting commandments from these other dialogues that God placed in the Quran is not different from extracting commandments to when God addresses the prophet using the singular you. Even though these verses were originally addressing the prophet specifically the mere fact they are encompassed in the Quran implies that they are for us to reflect upon and apply. Below is a simple example of this, where the singular you is used, but the commandment is applicable to all believers.

[2:149] Wherever you go, you shall turn your face (during Salat) towards the Sacred Masjid. This is the truth from your Lord. GOD is never unaware of anything you all do.

(١٤٩) وَمِنْ حَيْثُ خَرَجْتَ فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْحَرَامِ وَإِنَّهُۥ لَلْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّكَ وَمَا ٱللَّهُ بِغَـٰفِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ

1waminوَمِنْAnd from
3kharajtaخَرَجْتَyou go forth,
4fawalliفَوَلِّ[so] turn
5wajhakaوَجْهَكَyour face
6shaṭraشَطْرَ(in the) direction
7l-masjidiٱلْمَسْجِدِ[the] Masjid
8l-ḥarāmiٱلْحَرَامِthe Sacred
9wa-innahuوَإِنَّهُۥAnd indeed, it (is)
10lalḥaqquلَلْحَقُّsurely the truth
12rabbikaرَّبِّكَyour Lord.
13wamāوَمَاAnd not (is)
15bighāfilinبِغَـٰفِلٍever unaware
16ʿammāعَمَّاof what
17taʿmalūnaتَعْمَلُونَyou [all] do.

The only exception to this rule is when the Quran addresses an individual directly e.g. when it states, “O you prophet” ( يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّبِىُّ ). In these examples where the Quran calls out the prophet specifically, then these are commandments directed solely to him.

[66:1] O you prophet, why do you prohibit what GOD has made lawful for you, just to please your wives? GOD is Forgiver, Merciful.

 يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّبِىُّ لِمَ تُحَرِّمُ مَآ أَحَلَّ ٱللَّهُ لَكَ تَبْتَغِى مَرْضَاتَ أَزْوَٰجِكَ وَٱللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

However, even in these examples, we can still pull wisdom and understanding because otherwise, there would be no point in these statements being preserved in the Quran if there was nothing to be gained from them.

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