Date :Monday, February 19th, 2018 | Time : 10:28 |ID: 59402 | Print

History of Changing Qiblah: Commentary of the Quran (Chapter 2:144-145) By: Mohammad Sobhanie

Commentary of the Quran (Chapter 2:144-145)

By: Mohammad Sobhanie

 

History of Changing Qiblah

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

قَدْ نَرَىٰ تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَاءِ ۖ فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةً تَرْضَاهَا ۚ فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ ۚ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ ۗ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ لَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ ۗ وَمَا اللَّـهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا يَعْمَلُونَ ﴿١٤٤

2:144: Verily, We have seen the turning of your face (O Dear Prophet) towards the heaven (for receiving revelation). Surely, We shall turn you to a Qiblah (prayer direction) that shall please you, so turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid Al-Haram (at Makkah). And wherever you (believer)s are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction.

Certainly, the people who were given the Scripture (i.e., Jews and Christians) know well that, that (your turning towards the direction of the Ka`bah at Makkah in prayers) is the truth from their Lord. And Allah is not oblivious of what they do.

وَلَئِنْ أَتَيْتَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ بِكُلِّ آيَةٍ مَّا تَبِعُوا قِبْلَتَكَ ۚ وَمَا أَنتَ بِتَابِعٍ قِبْلَتَهُمْ ۚ وَمَا بَعْضُهُم بِتَابِعٍ قِبْلَةَ بَعْضٍ ۚ وَلَئِنِ اتَّبَعْتَ أَهْوَاءَهُم مِّن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ ۙ إِنَّكَ إِذًا لَّمِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ ﴿١٤٥

2:145 And even if you were to bring to the People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) all the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), they would not follow your Qiblah (prayer direction), nor are you going to follow their Qiblah. And they (Jews and Christians) will not follow each other’s Qiblah. Verily, if you follow their desires after that which you have received of knowledge (from Allah), then indeed you will be one of the wrongdoers.

Commentary: Earlier it was mentioned that AlAqsa Masjed [Arabic: (المسجد الاقصى‎‎)] in Jerusalem was the first but temporary direction of Qiblah for Muslims. Hence, the Prophet (SAWA) was awaiting the divine command to change the direction of Qiblah towards the house of Kaa’ba. This was especially crucial since the Jews of Medina began to demean the Muslims for following the direction of their Qiblah. They argued that they were first nation who prayed towards Jerusalem and following their Qiblah is a testimony to their truthfulness.

The Prophet’s anticipation for praying towards the house of Kaa’ba was echoed in the verse 2:142. The verse begins with saying, “Verily, We have seen the turning of your face towards the heaven (in an anticipation for receiving revelation to change the direction of Qiblah)”, [(قَدْ نَرَىٰ تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَاءِ)]. O! Prophet, be sure that “We shall turn you to a Qiblah that shall please you,”, [(فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةً تَرْضَاهَا)]. Now, with this decree, “turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid Al-Haram” for prayer, [(فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ)].

Then, the verse commands all believers to follow the Prophet’s steps and pray towards Masjid Al-Haram, regardless of the direction they were praying in:

…….. وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ ….. ﴿١٤٤

2:144: ………. And wherever you (believer)s are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction.

Note that the verse explicitly states the direction of Qiblah as towards Masjid Al-Haram instead of the Kaaba. This is due to the bigger area size of Masjid Al-Haram compared to the house of Kaa’ba which makes it easier for people at far distances to find the direction of Qiblah. Nevertheless, inside Masjad-Al-Haram, people offers their prayer towards the house of Kaa’ba [Tafseer-e-Namoona, Vol.1, P. 493].

The verse also underscores that the People of the Book knew that the Prophet of Islam would pray in two different directions [(یصلی الی القبلتین), TafseereNamoona, Vol.1, P. 491]. So, instead of taking the change in the direction of Qiblah as a sign of the Prophet’s authenticity, they used this as an excuse to affront the Prophet further, see verse 142 for more details. However, Allah (SWT) is not oblivious of what one does [(وَمَا اللَّـهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا يَعْمَلُونَ)]:

…. وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ لَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ ۗ وَمَا اللَّـهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا يَعْمَلُونَ ﴿١٤٤

2:144: …. Certainly, the people who were given the Scripture (i.e., Jews and Christians) know well that, that (your turning towards the direction of the Ka`bah at Makkah in prayers) is the truth from their Lord. And Allah is not oblivious of what they do.

After the change in the Qiblah’s direction, many arguments were exchanged between the Muslims and the People of the Book. The verse 2:145-148 tries to bring closure to this discourse by saying that the Christian and Jews had made a firm decision to not follow the Prophet’s Qiblah and no argument could ever change their mind. The Christian and Jews were so firm in their decision that they were not even willing to follow each other’s Qiblah. The Muslims would certainly not follow the Christian nor the Jews’ Qiblah either. In this situation, let’s put aside this argument and  race towards doing good deeds [this discussion would be continued on commentary of the verse 2:148:

وَلَئِنْ أَتَيْتَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ بِكُلِّ آيَةٍ مَّا تَبِعُوا قِبْلَتَكَ ۚ وَمَا أَنتَ بِتَابِعٍ قِبْلَتَهُمْ ۚ وَمَا بَعْضُهُم بِتَابِعٍ قِبْلَةَ بَعْضٍ …………. ﴿١٤٥

2:145 And even if you were to bring to the People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) all the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), they would not follow your Qiblah (prayer direction), nor are you going to follow their Qiblah. …….

The verse asserts that the divine command is the final word which believers should adhere to; any deviation from that would put them among the wrongdoers. This includes following the divinely ordained direction of Qiblah:

………… وَلَئِنِ اتَّبَعْتَ أَهْوَاءَهُم مِّن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ ۙ إِنَّكَ إِذًا لَّمِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ ﴿١٤٥

2:145 …….. Verily, if you follow their desires after that which you have received of knowledge (from Allah), then indeed you will be one of the wrongdoers.

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