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When the people of the book are mentioned in the Qur'aan by the expression:(trasnlated as):

 Those to whom We have sent the Book (Al-Baqarah: 121)

 

It should be noted that this phrase is not used by Allâh except in the context of commendation but if they are mentioned by the wording:(trasnlated as):

 To those who have been given a portion of the Book? (Aal 'Imraan: 23)

 

it should be noted that this type of expression is not used except in the context of dispraise. If they are referred to by the phrase: (Those that were given the book) it may be used to mean both parties though it will not be exclusive to the commended party only and if the phrase comes like this : (The people of the book) it encompasses both parties.

Ibn Al-Qayyim

Miftaahu Daaris-Sa'aadah vol. 1, pp. 104.

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