Who is the addressee of the phrase "... so strive as in a race in all virtues..." in verse 48 of the chapter of al-Maida?

Details of the Question

Who is the addressee of the phrase "... so strive as in a race in all virtues..." in verse 48 of the chapter of al-Maida?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is possible to explain the issue in a few points:

a.  The addressees of the phrase “so strive as in a race in all virtues” are all people. (Tabari, Ibn Ashur, the interpretation of the verse in question)

b.  The addressees of the phrase are both the people of the book and Muslims. What is meant by “all virtues” in the verse is to obey Allah, to believe in the Quran, which abrogated an important part of the secondary decrees of the previous books and which settled the principles of belief and universal decrees that are valid all the time with a more explanatory style, and whose decrees will be valid until Doomsday, and to act in compliance with the Quran. (cf. Ibn Kathir, Abus-Suud, the interpretation of the verse in question)

c.  According to some scholars like Dahhak, the addressee of the phrase is the ummah of Islam only. (see ibid)

d.  It is also possible to make the following interpretation regarding the issue: Since Allah’s wisdom necessitated different shari’ahs at different times, and since “(His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you”, (O People of the Book) believe in the Quran, which is the source of the shari’ah of the time you live, like the other Muslims, strive as in a race in all virtues within the framework of its sound principles of belief, orders and prohibitions, which lead to happiness both in the world and the hereafter; and do not miss this opportunity. (cf. Alusi, the interpretation of the verse in question)

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