From the Book, Introduction to the Tafseer of the Quran, by the Ameer of Hizb ut Tahrir, the eminent jurist and statesman, Sheikh Ata Bin Khalil Abu Al-Rashtah.
سَيَقُولُ السُّفَهَاء مِنَ النَّاسِ مَا وَلاَّهُمْ عَن قِبْلَتِهِمُ الَّتِي كَانُواْ عَلَيْهَا قُل لِّلّهِ الْمَشْرِقُ وَالْمَغْرِبُ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاء إِلَى صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ * وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُواْ شُهَدَاء عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا وَمَا جَعَلْنَا الْقِبْلَةَ الَّتِي كُنتَ عَلَيْهَا إِلاَّ لِنَعْلَمَ مَن يَتَّبِعُ الرَّسُولَ مِمَّن يَنقَلِبُ عَلَى عَقِبَيْهِ وَإِن كَانَتْ لَكَبِيرَةً إِلاَّ عَلَى الَّذِينَ هَدَى اللّهُ وَمَا كَانَ اللّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَانَكُمْ إِنَّ اللّهَ بِالنَّاسِ لَرَؤُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ * قَدْ نَرَى تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَاء فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةً تَرْضَاهَا فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّواْ وُجُوِهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ أُوْتُواْ الْكِتَابَ لَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ وَمَا اللّهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا يَعْمَلُونَ * وَلَئِنْ أَتَيْتَ الَّذِينَ أُوْتُواْ الْكِتَابَ بِكُلِّ آيَةٍ مَّا تَبِعُواْ قِبْلَتَكَ وَمَا أَنتَ بِتَابِعٍ قِبْلَتَهُمْ وَمَا بَعْضُهُم بِتَابِعٍ قِبْلَةَ بَعْضٍ وَلَئِنِ اتَّبَعْتَ أَهْوَاءهُم مِّن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ إِنَّكَ إِذَاً لَّمِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ
“142. The fools (idolaters, hypocrites, and Jews) among the people will say: “What has turned them (Muslims) from their Qiblah prayer direction (towards Jerusalem) to which they used to face in prayer.” Say (O Muhammad): “To Allah belong both, east and the west. He guides whom He wills to the straight way.”
143. Thus We have made you a just Ummah, that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger (Muhammad) be a witness over you. And We made the Qiblah which you used to face, only so We know those who followed the Messenger (Muhammad) from those who would turn on their heels. Indeed it was heavy except for those whom Allah guided. And Allah would never make your Imaan (prayers) to be lost (i.e., your prayers offered towards Jerusalem). Truly, Allah is full of kindness, the Most Merciful towards mankind.
144. Verily, We have seen the turning of your (Muhammad’s) face towards the heaven. 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 people are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction. Certainly, those who were given the Book (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 does not overlook what they do.
145. Verily, 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, nor are you going to follow their Qiblah. And they 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 would be one of the wrongdoers.”
(Surah Al-Baqarah 2:142-145)
Allah سبحانه وتعالى clarifies in these Ayaat the following:
- It seems that these selected Ayaat are not presented in order of revelation, with a bringing forward and a delay, for it seems that َthe Ayah سَيَقُولُ السُّفَهَاءُ مِنْ النَّاسِ “The fools (idolaters, hypocrites, and Jews) among the people will say” is after the Ayah قَدْ نَرَى تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَاءِ “Verily, We have seen the turning of your (Muhammad’s) face towards the heaven” and then He said: سَيَقُولُ السُّفَهَاءُ مِنْ النَّاسِ مَا وَلاَّهُمْ عَنْ قِبْلَتِهِمْ الَّتِي كَانُوا عَلَيْهَا “The fools (idolators, hypocrites, and Jews) among the people will say: “What has turned them (Muslims) from their Qiblah prayer direction (towards Jerusalem) to which they used to face in prayer.”
As the Ayaat were revealed upon RasulAllah ﷺ, he ordered the writing of the revelation, and he clarified to the Muslims any Ayah’s place in terms of its order in relation to other Ayaat in its Surah. So he ﷺ said, «ضعوا هذه الآية في مكان كذا من سورة كذا» “Put this ayah in such a place within such a Surah.” And so the order of the Ayaat maybe in accordance to the order of revelation or not, according to the wisdom that Allah سبحانه وتعالى saw fit.
This is evident in some verses from the Quran, for instance the Ayah وَالَّذِينَ يُتَوَفَّوْنَ مِنْكُمْ وَيَذَرُونَ أَزْوَاجًا وَصِيَّةً لأَزْوَاجِهِم “And those who are taken in death among you and leave wives behind” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:240] is from the aspect of the order of Revelation before the Ayah وَالَّذِينَ يُتَوَفَّوْنَ مِنْكُمْ وَيَذَرُونَ أَزْوَاجًا يَتَرَبَّصْنَ بِأَنفُسِهِنَّ أَرْبَعَةَ أَشْهُرٍ وَعَشْرًا “And those who are taken in death among you and leave wives behind – they, [the wives, shall] wait four months and ten [days].” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:234]. The first Ayah is abrogated by the second Ayah, noting that the second Ayah is before the first Ayah in the order of the Quran i.e. the order in the Quran copy is the reverse of the sequence of Revelation.
Thus, for the Ayah سَيَقُولُ السُّفَهَاءُ مِنْ النَّاسِ مَا وَلاَّهُمْ عَنْ قِبْلَتِهِمْ الَّتِي كَانُوا عَلَيْهَا “The fools (idolaters, hypocrites, and Jews) among the people will say: “What has turned them (Muslims) from their Qiblah prayer direction (towards Jerusalem) to which they used to face in prayer,” and the meaning of this Ayah necessitates that this saying is after the turning away by Allah سبحانه وتعالى from their previous Qiblah prayer direction i.e. after the Ayah قَدْ نَرَى تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَاءِ فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةً تَرْضَاهَا “Verily, We have seen the turning of your (Muhammad’s) face towards the heaven. Surely, We shall turn you to a Qiblah (prayer direction) that shall please you.”
The bringing forward and delay is not without a wise purpose, appropriate when accounting for the language of the Arabs. When we scrutinize the matter, we outweigh that the bringing forward was to make prominent the reality of those fools who object to the rule of Allah سبحانه وتعالى, for the truthful sincere believers receive the commands of Allah سبحانه وتعالى without the slightest objection, وَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤْمِنٍ وَلاَ مُؤْمِنَةٍ إِذَا قَضَى اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَمْرًا أَنْ يَكُونَ لَهُمْ الْخِيَرَةُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِمْ “It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, that they should [thereafter] have any choice about their affair.” [Surah al-Ahzab 33:36]
Accordingly, Allah سبحانه وتعالى shows in these Ayaat the foolishness of those people who object to the command of Allah سبحانه وتعالى regarding the change in the direction of the Qiblah, and that the issue that demands examination was not that Allah سبحانه وتعالى abrogates a command and brought another command, but the issue that demands inquiry was the objection of the command of Allah سبحانه وتعالى. As for the change in the direction of the Qiblah, it is within the domain of Allah سبحانه وتعالى, for Allah سبحانه وتعالى is the owner of the East and the West and imposes within His dominion as He pleases. So if he makes the direction to this way or another, then the command in all that is up to Him alone, لاَ يُسْأَلُ عَمَّا يَفْعَلُ وَهُمْ يُسْأَلُونَ “He is not questioned about what He does, but they will be questioned.” [Surah al-Anbiyyah 21:23]
Thus the command of Allah سبحانه وتعالى is the Truth and the Guidance, such that the one who follows it is guided, يَهْدِي مَنْ يَشَاءُ إِلَى صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيم “He guides whom He wills to the straight way.” So whosoever objects to the command of Allah سبحانه وتعالى and fabricates against it, is a fool whose reason is in flight and is from those who are destroyed.
السُّفَهَاءُ (a(l)s-sufahaao) “the fools” is the plural of fool (سفيه safiya), the ignorant, the light (خفيف khafeef) in reasoning, the rejecter of pondering. In origin “the fool” is lightness (خفة khifah) from their speech (of the Arabs) the light dress (ثوب سفيه thawb safiay) i.e. lightly woven (خفيف النسج khafeef un-nasj), and here السُّفَهَاءُ a(l)s-sufahaao is appended the letters Alif (ا) and Laam (ل) and so it is general for all those who say مَا وَلاَّهُمْ عَنْ قِبْلَتِهِمْ “What has turned them (Muslims) from their Qiblah prayer direction.” The fabricators, the foolish, here are the Jews, the hypocrites and the mushrikeen and all those who are counted amongst them.
مَا وَلاَّهُمْ “What has turned them” i.e. what has diverted them?
عَنْ قِبْلَتِهِمْ “from their Qiblah” Al-Qiblah is the action of facing, as in the facing towards a direction and it has a Shar’i (Legal) meaning which is the direction to which a Muslim faces during Salah.
- Then Allah سبحانه وتعالى informs us that the command is for Him, before and after, not a reversal of His rule, and that He is the Master of favor and kindness. So, just as He favored the Muslims by responding to His Messenger ﷺ and making al-Bayt ul-Haram their Qiblah, Allah swt favored the Ummah of Muhammad ﷺ and by making her an Ummah of justice over other peoples, a witness over all the people. So Allah سبحانه وتعالى made her by this description the just Ummah i.e. the Ummah of justice to be worthy as a witness over all people, wherein justice is the basic requirement for witness.
As for (الأمة الوسط) in the Arabic language, it is the best and the best from the people in justice.
According to the “Language of the Arabs”: The middle of a thing is the most favored of it and its best is, just as the middle of the pasture is better then both its sides of it and thus the saying “The best of the matters is its middle.”
It appears as such in the meaning of the speech of Allah سبحانه وتعالى وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا “And thus we made you a just Ummah” i.e. most just, and the master of the language adds “This is the interpretation of middle and its reality and its meaning.”
Thus the meaning of the Ayah is that the Islamic Ummah will be a just witness over other nations, as it conveyed Islam to them. The Ayah came in the Form of Information (صيغة الإخبار Seeghatul Akhbaar), though it is with the Meaning of Demand (معنى الطلـب Ma’anat Talab) from Allah سبحانه وتعالى of the Islamic Ummah to convey Islam to other nations, and if it did not do so, it would have sinned. Accordingly she is an evidence over other nations لِتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ “to be a witness over humankind” just as RasulAllah ﷺ is an evidence over the Islamic Ummah because of his conveying to the people of Islam وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا “and the Rasul is a witness over you.”
This is from the aspect of the Islamic Ummah being a just witness over other nations after Islam in terms of conveying Islam to those nations. From another aspect, the Ummah is a just witness over other nations before Islam, in terms of the conveying by the previous Prophets of the Messages of their Lord for their people, as stated in the hadeeth:«جيء النبي يوم القيامة ومعه الرجل والنبي معه الرجلان وأكثر من ذلك فيُدعَى قومه فيقال لهم هل بلَّغكم هذا؟ فيقولون: لا. فيقال له: هل بلَّغت قومك؟ فيقول: نعم. فيقال له: ومن يشهد لك؟ فيقول: محمّدٌ وأمته. فيُدعى محمّد وأمته فيقـال لهم: هل بلَّغ هذا قومه؟ فيقولون: نعم. فيُقال: وما علمكم؟ فيقـولون: جاءنا نبينا محمّد فأخبرنا أن الرسل قد بلَّغوا فذلك قوله تعالى وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا» “A Prophet will arise on Judgment Day, along with a single man with him, and the prophet will arise with only two men and more than that his people will be called and it will be said to them, did these convey to you? They will say: No. Then it will be said to him: Did you convey to your people? He will say: Yes. It will be said to him: And who is a witness for you? He will say: Muhammad and his Ummah. So Muhammad and his Ummah will be asked and it will be said to them: Did he convey to his people? They will say: Yes. It will be said: What of your information? They will say: Our Prophet Muhammad ﷺ came to us and informed us that the messengers have conveyed and similar to that is His سبحانه وتعالى speech: وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا “And We made you a middle nation to be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger may be a witness over you.”
So the Islamic Ummah is a just witness: on other nations after Islam and before Islam, in the manner described above.
Similarly, Allah سبحانه وتعالى also informs us of the wisdom of imposing the first Qiblah on the Muslims, which is facing the Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa, which was to distinguish those who are obedient to Allah سبحانه وتعالى and His Messenger ﷺ, those who have surrendered to His command and are led by Him so faced their Qiblah as commanded by Allah سبحانه وتعالى, from those for whom obedience of the command of Allah ﷺ and the command of His Messenger سبحانه وتعالى is a burden, if it either opposes the custom to which they are used or the desire which their hearts bear. So, Allah سبحانه وتعالى commanded His Messenger ﷺ to where he faces in his Salah and that is towards Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa although he was in Makkah. It was burdensome, except for those who Allah سبحانه وتعالى guided, to face Al-Aqsa and turn away from the Kaaba which was in their midst, which they glorified, made pilgrimages to and which they considered as of the Deen of Ibrahim (as). The facing towards Al-Aqsa in the Salah instead of Al-Baytul Al-Haraam was huge for all, except those who were guided by Allah and were led by Allah سبحانه وتعالى they faced Al-Aqsah, obedient and submissive to the command of their Lord, whom Allah سبحانه وتعالى was pleased and who were pleased with Allah سبحانه وتعالى.
Then, Allah سبحانه وتعالى, with His compassion and mercy for the believers, accepted from them their prayers to Al-Aqsa, before they turned their Qiblah towards Makkah. The Muslims were afraid that their Salah towards the first Qiblah were not accepted as their Salah towards the second Qiblah, the Ka’abah, so Allah سبحانه وتعالى blessed them with its acceptance and favored them without its loss. إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِالنَّاسِ لَرَءُوفٌ رَحِيمٌ “Truly, Allah is full of kindness, the Most Merciful towards mankind.”
إِلاَّ لِنَعْلَمَ “only so We know” only to disclose what We know i.e. to show what We know of the Unseen beyond the reality perceived by you and this is by Contextualization (قرينة Qareenah) that Allah سبحانه وتعالى عَالِمُ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ “He is knowing of the Unseen and the seen.” [Surah Hashr 59:22]. So nothing prevents the knowledge of Allah سبحانه وتعالى about something which is not apparent for the people, because Allah سبحانه وتعالى knows beforehand its occurrence and appearance before the people, as in His سبحانه وتعالى saying أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَنْ تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَعْلَمْ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا مِنْكُمْ وَيَعْلَمَ الصَّابِرِين “Do you think that you will enter Paradise before Allah knows (tests) those of you who performed Jihad and knows (tests) those who are patient)” [Surah Aali-Imran 3:142] i.e. until what Allah سبحانه وتعالى knows of your situation in Jihad and in patience, is disclosed to you.
Thus, accordingly the meaning of لِنَعْلَمَ “so We know” is that “so We show what we know” as a matter of metaphor for إضمار “concealment” which is a necessitated evidence for the correctness of the occurring, uttered phrase, when accounting for the Contextualization of the Knowledge of Allah سبحانه وتعالى of the Unseen.
مِمَّنْ يَنقَلِبُ عَلَى عَقِبَيْهِ “from those who would turn on their heels” i.e. reneged from Islam through attachment to the Qiblah of their forefathers and مِنْ “of” is for contrast, to allow for a second, opposing case, as in the saying of Allah سبحانه وتعالى: وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ الْمُفْسِدَ مِنْ الْمُصْلِحِ “And Allah knows the one who means mischief from the one who means good” [Surah Al-Baqarah 2:220], so the one who means good as opposed to the one who means mischief. And in this case, it is so as well, for the Ayah إِلاَّ لِنَعْلَمَ مَنْ يَتَّبِعُ الرَّسُولَ مِمَّنْ يَنقَلِبُ عَلَى عَقِبَيْهِ “only so We know those who followed the Messenger from those who would turn on their heels.” So it contrasts “those who would turn on their heels” as opposed to “those who followed the Messenger.”
لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَانَكُمْ “To lose your faith” i.e. your prayers to the first Qiblah are not accepted before its change and this is a metaphorical inference because Imaan is the reason for the acceptance of Salah. So, if there is no Imaan, Salah is not accepted, even if all its movements are performed, for Imaan precedes action, إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلاَةَ وَآتَوْا الزَّكَاةَ لَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ “Truly, those who believe, and do deeds of righteousness, and perform the Salah and give Zakah, they will have their reward with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:277]
And in the Hadith, “أنه لما وجِّه رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم إلى القبلة – الكعبة – قالوا: يا رسول الله فكيف بالذين ماتوا وهم يُصَلون إلى بيت المقدس؟ فنزلت وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَانَكُمْ” “that when the Messenger of Allah ﷺ faced the Qiblah –the Ka’bah, they said, “O Messenger of Allah, what of those who died whilst they performed Salah to Al-Aqsa? And then was revealed وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَانَكُم “And Allah would never make your Imaan (prayers) to be lost.” This means that their Salah is accepted as a favor from Allah سبحانه وتعالى and mercy.
- Allah سبحانه وتعالى clarifies that He responded to RasulAllah ﷺ by directing him to a Qiblah other than Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa. The Jews began saying: Muhammad opposes us yet he follows our Qiblah! So he ﷺ desired that Allah سبحانه وتعالى directs him to face the Kaaba, the house that was built by Ibrahim (as) and from where he called the Arabs to Imaan. Bukhari and Muslim narrated in their Sahih that Baraa’ said: صلينا مع رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم بعد قدومه المدينة ستةَ عشرَ شهراً نحو بيت المقدس، ثم علم الله هوى نبيه صلى الله عليه و سلم فنزلت قَدْ نَرَى تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَاءِ فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةً تَرْضَاهَا فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ “We prayed with RasulAllah ﷺ after his arrival to Madinah for sixteen months towards Baytul Maqdis (Al-Aqsa), then Allah سبحانه وتعالى knew of the desire of His Prophet (saaaw) and so was revealed قَدْ نَرَى تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَاءِ فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةً تَرْضَاهَا فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ “Verily, We have seen the turning of your (Muhammad’s) face towards the heaven. 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).” So the Qiblah was changed to Al-Baytul ul-Haraam and after the revelation of this Ayah, the Muslims left performing Salah towards Al-Maqdis and began Salah facing towards the Al-Baytul ul-Haraam. And Abu Dawood narrated from Anas (ra): “أنه لما نزلت هذه الآية على رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم مرّ رجل ببني سلمة فناداهم وهم ركوعٌ في صلاة الفجر نحو بيت المقدس: ألا إن القبلة قد حوِّلت إلى الكعبة فمالوا كلهم ركوعا إلى الكعبة “that when this Ayah was revealed upon RasulAllah ﷺ a man of Bani Salamah turned and called to them, whilst they were in Rukuu in Salah of Fajr facing Al-Bayt Ul-Maqdus, “not there, the Qiblah has changed to the Ka’aba,” so all of them turned their Ruku’ to the Kaaba.”
It is derived from that that a Singular Narration (خبر الواحد) is evidence for Legal Rulings (أحكام شرعية) and it is not said that it is abrogation by single narration of the First Qiblah, because the First Qiblah was abrogated by the Noble Ayah قَدْ نَرَى تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَاءِ فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةً تَرْضَاهَا “Verily, We have seen the turning of your (Muhammad’s) face towards the heaven. Surely, We shall turn you to a Qiblah (prayer direction) that shall please you.” So, indeed what happened was that the conveyance of the Legal Ruling to those performing Salah, was accomplished by a Singular Narration and it is obligatory to follow as it is, as is clear in its appearance within Usool.
شَطْرَهُ “its direction” i.e. facing it as said by Ibn Abbas (ra), and the mention of al-Masjid ul-Haraam (the Sacred Mosque) without the Ka’abah is evidence that is obligatory to observe the direction without the eye and that is because the Al-Masjid ul-Haraam encloses the Ka’aba, as well as being called Makkah, as in His saying: سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَى بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلاً مِنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الأَقْصَى “Glorified be He Who took His servant for a Night Journey from Al-Masjid Al-Haram to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa.” Indeed RasulAllah ﷺ was taken on the Night Journey from Makkah and not from inside Al-Masjid ul-Haraam itself! It follows from this that Al-Bayt ul-Haraam (the Sacred House), the Kaaba, is a Qiblah for those who see it and know its direction by sight. The direction of the Sacred Mosque is sufficient as a Qiblah for the residents of the Sacred Precinct, who do not see the Kaaba, but they know the direction of the Sacred Mosque and so this is for each of those knowing its direction, such as RasulAllah ﷺ who knew by Revelation, even if he did not live in the Sacred Precinct. And in the direction of the Sacred Land – Makkah – is enough as a Qiblah for the other regions.
قَدْ نَرَى “We (did) see” i.e. we saw. Indeed قد “did” when proceeding the present tense, changes it to the past tense, as long as it relates to an event in the past or in the recent past. And so it is appropriate investigation to see if the past tense comes after it, as in His saying, قَدْ يَعْلَمُ مَا أَنْتُمْ عَلَيْهِ “Indeed, He (did) know your condition” [Surah an-Nur 24: 64] i.e he knew and His saying وَلَقَدْ نَعْلَمُ أَنَّكَ يَضِيقُ صَدْرُك “We (did) know that your breast becomes tight”. Surah al-Hijr: 97, i.e. I knew.
- Indeed Allah سبحانه وتعالى informs us that the Jews and Christians know that this change from the First Qiblah to the Second Qiblah is the Truth, because they are certain that Muhammad ﷺ is the Prophet mentioned in their books, who would pray to two Qiblahs, so they perceive that what he recites from his Lord is the Truth, in which there is no doubt.
Then Allah سبحانه وتعالى concluded the Ayah by saying that He knows what they know and He does not overlook it and accounts them for it, as well as for what they deny regarding RasulAllah ﷺ, whether it is the change to the new Qiblah or other than that. Allah سبحانه وتعالى will hold them accountable and punish them with the punishment that they deserve, for Allah سبحانه وتعالى does not overlook a single matter from their actions. وَمَا اللَّهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا يَعْمَلُونَ “And Allah does not overlook anything of what they do.”
الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ “Those who were given the Book (i.e., Jews and Christians)” are the scholars of the People of the Book – rabbis and priests – with the Contextualization (قرينة Qareenah) لَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ “(they) knew that it was the Truth” – i.e. without any imitation – so these are the scholars of the People of the Book, who read it and know whatever is in it.
- Allah سبحانه وتعالى makes clear in the last verse that the rabbis and priests referred to in the previous verse will never follow the Qiblah of Muslims, whatsoever the evidence held before them, because they did not violate the Qiblah through doubt removed by evidence or confirmation – for they know this in their Books – rather they do not follow it through sheer stubbornness and arrogance, and are the like of those whom evidence does not benefit. And, here arises the question: how do some of them believe? This is because the Ayah is about the scholars at the time of the RasulAllah ﷺ, who denied stubbornly and arrogantly, and did not believe, despite knowing that it is the Truth. This does not include other than them from the common ranks of Jews and Christians and does did not deny the possibility of Imaan within some of them.
Then Allah سبحانه وتعالى informs His Messenger ﷺ that he will not follow their Qiblah for he ﷺ is upon the Truth, and the Truth that was revealed upon him does not follow their desires. And at the same time, neither of them will ever follow the other Qiblah and each of them clings to his Qiblah, without clear conclusive evidence for that, and so he will not change, no matter what evidence was brought before him.
And thus, Allah سبحانه وتعالى addresses His Messenger ﷺ that if he were to follow their desires by following their religion after the Truth that came to him, then he would be of the oppressors who misplace the Truth.
وَلَئِنْ أَتَيْتَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الكِتَابَ “Verily, even if you were to bring to the People of the Scripture.” Here the Laam (ل) is the preposition for an oath.
مَا تَبِعُوا قِبْلَتَكَ “they will not follow your Qiblah” the answer to the oath is obstructively preventing a conditional answer, because in origin the oath (Laam of Qasm) is a preposition for the conditionality إن (if). Thus the answer to the oath is rendered without a condition, according to the language, and in particular because Fa (ف) of continuity does not exist in the answer.
وَمَا أَنْتَ بِتَابِعٍ قِبْلَتَهُمْ وَمَا بَعْضُهُمْ بِتَابِعٍ قِبْلَةَ بَعْضٍ “nor are you going to follow their Qiblah. And they will not follow each other’s Qiblah.” وَمَا بَعْضُهُمْ بِتَابِعٍ قِبْلَةَ بَعْضٍ “And they will not follow each other’s Qiblah.” Both these denials are more emphatic than the denialمَا تَبِعُوا قِبْلَتَكَ “they will not follow your Qiblah” because it is in verbal form whereas the nominal form is more emphatic in denial. And in this is an indicating evidence that the number of Jews and Christians becoming Muslim since his mission ﷺ is much greater than either the Muslims apostatizing to Christianity and Judaism or the Jews becoming Christians or the Christians becoming Jews.
وَلَئِنْ اتَّبَعْتَ أَهْوَاءَهُمْ “Verily, if you follow their desires” أن (that) here is that of supposition with the Contextualization (قرينة) of negation of the following, through what came previously in the Ayah وَمَا أَنْتَ بِتَابِعٍ قِبْلَتَهُمْ “nor are you going to follow their Qiblah” because أَهْوَاءَهُمْ “their desires” here refers to what they said to RasulAllah ﷺ: “Go back to our Qiblah, so we believe in you and we will follow you,” such was their deception, may Allah سبحانه وتعالى curse them.
إِنَّكَ إِذًا لَمِنْ الظَّالِمِينَ “then you would be one of the wrongdoers” إِنّ (then) is the supposition of the extent of the great oppression that the believer would partake in, if he were to follow the Qiblah of the Jews or Christians. So the meaning is: you O Muhammad ﷺ would partake in a great injustice if imposed upon and followed their Qiblah, after what came to you of knowledge. So this is to indicate the severity of the oppression in following the Qiblah of the Jews and Christians, as the Truth is to follow that Qiblah which Allah سبحانه وتعالى clarified for His Messenger ﷺ, which is towards the Sacred Mosque.
وَمَا أَنْتَ بِتَابِعٍ قِبْلَتَهُمْ “nor are you going to follow their Qiblah.” Qiblah is in the singular form even there are two, one Qiblah for the Jews and one Qiblah for the Christians. بتابع قبلتيهم “follow their two Qiblahs” is rejected because their two Qiblahs are brought together in invalidity and so both became one and in particular it is a better comparison with the singular “your Qiblah” in His سبحانه وتعالى saying: مَا تَبِعُوا قِبْلَتَكَ “They will never follow your Qiblah” which preceded وَمَا أَنْتَ بِتَابِعٍ قِبْلَتَهُمْ “nor are you going to follow their Qiblah.”