This past week at the Qalam Seminary we started the tafseer of Surah Noor by Imam Al Qurtubi. This is our third tafseer out of the five we plan on covering throughout the year. As we discussed the consequences of zina [adultery/fornication] and what Allah (SWT) decreed for those who commit zina, we also discussed the time this was revealed and who it was revealed for. It was obviously at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (S), but it’s important to remember that his immediate audience was our beloved sahaba, the people who in our eyes did everything right. But they were human too, so they did make mistakes. It was their recovery after these mistakes and their tawba, their turning back to Allah after having turned away from Him, that made them remarkable. Even in times of great adversity, as we learned in the context of this surah, they still showed restraint and they forgave without compromising justice for the greater good.
The Qur’an is a timeless book. It is just as relevant to us today and as it was relevant to the sahaba at the time of the Prophet (s). The most amazing part is that the rules in the Quran are less than 10% of the Quran. The remaining 90% is building character, community, and emphasizing the importance of reaching our potential as human beings. It is important when reading about the rules in the Quran to not take them out of context without appreciating it as a whole in terms of human development. This is what we learn from the sahaba. They internalized the Quran as a whole and used it to better themselves as they applied the rulings. They weren’t perfect beings, but that’s exactly what makes them perfect examples for us. They were perfect in seeking forgiveness for their mistakes when they did make them, a great reminder for us to never forget that Allah (SWT) is The Most Forgiving and The Most Merciful.