Why Does the Qur’an Use the Word ‘Kitab’ to Refer to Multiple Revealed Books?

Question:

Assalamu ‘alaykum.

I have a question. Could you help me explain the following verse?

Allah says in sura al Nisa verse 136: “O you who have believed, believe in Allah and His Messenger and the Book that He sent down upon His Messenger and the Scripture which He sent down before. And whoever disbelieves in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, and the Last Day has certainly gone far astray.”

My question is about the following part of the verse: the Book that He sent down upon His Messenger and the Scripture which He sent down before.

Why does Allah say the scripture (in the singular form) and not the scriptures? Weren’t the Torah, Injil, and Zabur scriptures sent down to the messengers, and isn’t this meant?

Answer:

Wa ‘alaykum assalam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh.

I pray you are well.

Using a Singular Word for a Plural
Yes, all of the previous scriptures are understood from this usage. This is a common style in the Arabic language. One purpose of this is to show that they are all revelations from Allah. We must believe that they were true as they were when revealed by Allah and that they have the same basic message from Him.

In some cases, this could be used then the context doesn’t necessitate looking at all of the scriptures individually. A reference to them all is what is required.

(Biqa’i, Nazm al Durar, Abu al Su’ud, Irshad al ‘Aql al Salim)

Please refer to our tafsir playlist. These sorts of points are usually addressed.

May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.
[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History, he moved to Damascus in 2007, where, for 18 months, he studied with many erudite scholars. In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years in Sacred Law (fiqh), legal theory (Usul al-fiqh), theology, hadith methodology, hadith commentary, and Logic. He was also given licenses of mastery in the science of Quranic recital. He was able to study an extensive curriculum of Quranic sciences, tafsir, Arabic grammar, and Arabic eloquence.