The Quran

Commentaries for 2.143

Al Baqara (The cow) - البقرة

2.143 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Thus) i.e. just as we have honoured you with the Religion of Abraham (Islam) and his direction of prayer (We have appointed you a middle nation) a middlemost community, (that you be witnesses) for the prophets (over mankind, and that the Messenger) Muhammad (pbuh) (may be a witness over you) that you are upright and follow the straight path. (And We appointed) changed (the Qiblah which ye formerly observed) prayed towards for a period of 19 months (only that We might know) see and distinguish (him who followeth the Messenger) concerning the Qiblah, (from him who turneth) reverts (on his heels) to his former religion and direction of prayer. (In truth it) the changing of the Qiblah (was a hard (test) save for those whom Allah guided) whose hearts Allah had protected. (But it was not Allah's purpose that your faith should be in vain) that He thwarts your faith as it was prior to the abrogation of legal rulings; and it is also said that this means: it is not Allah's purpose to thwart your faith but rather His purpose is to abrogate the legal rulings which conduct your faith; and it is also said that this means: Allah did not thwart your prayers towards Jerusalem but He has abrogated the ruling which required you to pray towards Jerusalem, (for Allah is full of pity, Merciful) in that He does not thwart your faith as it was before the abrogation of legal rulings (towards mankind) towards the believers.
2.143 Asrar - Kashf Al-Asrar
Thus We appointed you a midmost community.... Surely God is clement, ever-merciful toward the people.
It is the wise Lord, the knowing King, whose power and existence-giving bring forth beings. The newly arrived things exist through His exaltedness and His making them manifest, and the earth and the heavens stand forth through His keeping. He created the newly arrived things and chose from among them the animals. From among the animals He chose the Adamites, from the Adamites He chose the faithful, from the faithful He chose the prophets, and from the prophets He chose MuḤammad. He chose his community above the previous communities. This is why MuṣṬafā said, “I was brought forth from the best generation of the children of Adam, generation after generation, until I came to be in the generation in which I am.” He also said, “Surely God chose my companions above all the world's folk save the prophets and the envoys. He chose four of my companions and made them the best of my companions-and in all of my companions there is good-Abū Bakr, ʿUmar, ʿUthmān, and ʿAlī. He chose my community over the other communities, so He sent me forth in the best generation. Then there will be the second and third in succession, then the fourth, one after another.”
What is understood from this report is that MuṣṬafā is the best of the Adamites, the chosen from among the world's folk, the leader of the creatures, the adornment of the world, the weighty one of the time, the lamp of the earth, the full moon of heaven, the shelter of the disobedient, the interceder for the sinners, the master of all the messengers and their seal.
After MuṣṬafā the best of all creatures is Abū Bakr the sincerely truthful. The Lord of the Worlds placed the cushion of his imamate on the throne of MuṣṬafā's Shariah, turned the lodging place of his servanthood into self-purification and truthfulness, and made trust and certainty the keeper of the rank of his friendship.
After him the best of creatures is ʿUmar KhaṬṬāb. The Lord of the Worlds placed the reins of lowering and raising the legal rulings in the hand of his sufficiency and pulled the robe of his rulership over the forehead of the creed. With his harshness and awesomeness the smoke of associationism was subdued by its own misfortune.
After him the best of creatures is ʿUthmān ʿAffān. The Lord of the Worlds spread the carpet
of his dignity and honor in the seven heavens and in the era of his reign the lights of Islam were lit up in the regions of east and west.
After ʿUthmān the best of creatures is ʿAlī Murtaẓā. The Lord of the Worlds unveiled the realities of the Shariah and the marks bearing witness to the Tariqah through his conduct and secret core and made trust and godwariness his watchword and blanket.
MuṣṬafā placed each of these masters and caliphs in a rank and gave each a specific characteristic. Concerning ṣiddīq he said, “O Abū Bakr, God has bestowed upon you the Greatest Approval.”
It was said to him, “O Messenger of God, what is the Greatest Approval?”
He said, “God will disclose Himself generally to His faithful servants on the Day of Resurrection and specifically to Abū Bakr.”
Concerning ʿUmar he said, “Were there to be a prophet after me, it would be ʿUmar ibn alKhaṬṬāb.”
Concerning ʿUthmān he said, “Every prophet has a close friend, and my close friend in the Garden will be ʿUthmān.”
To ʿAlī he said, “In relation to me in my community you are like Aaron in relation to Moses, except that there will be no prophet after me. You are of me, and I am of you.”
Concerning all of his Companions generally he said, “None of my companions, dying in the earth, will be stirred up on the Day of Resurrection without having a leader and a light.”
He said, “My companions in my community are like salt in food-food is not wholesome without salt.”
He said, “Fear God, fear God in my companions! Fear God, fear God in my companions! Do not take them as extraneous after me! When someone loves them, I will love him with my love. When someone hates them, I will hate him with my hate. When someone troubles them, he has troubled me. When someone troubles me, he has troubled God. And when someone troubles God, he will be quickly taken to task.”
He said, “Do not revile my companions, for by Him in whose hand is my soul, were any of you to expend the like of Mount UḤud in gold, you would not reach the extent of one of them, or half.”
All of this he said concerning the Companions specifically. Concerning the whole community he said, “There is no community but that some are in the Fire and some in the Garden, but all of my community will be in the Garden.”
He said, “The Garden will be forbidden to the prophets until I enter it, and it will be forbidden to the communities until my community enters it.”
He said, “Surely my community will be shown mercy. When the Day of Resurrection comes, God will bestow on every man in this community a man from the unbelievers and will say, 'Here is your ransom from the Fire.'”
Anas said, “I went out with God's Messenger, and suddenly a sound was coming from a ravine. He said, 'O Anas, go and see what that sound is.'
“I went and there was a man performing the prayer before a tree and saying, 'O God, make me belong to the community of MuḤammad, those to whom mercy and forgiveness are shown, those whose prayers are answered and rewarded.' I came to God's Messenger and told him about that. He said, 'Go and say to him that God's Messenger greets him with peace and asks who he is.' I went and told him what God's Messenger had said. He said, 'Greet God's Messenger with peace from me and tell him that his brother al-Khiẓr asks him to ask God to make him belong to your community, those to whom mercy and forgiveness are shown, those whose prayers are answered and rewarded.'”
It was said to Jesus, “O Spirit of God! Will there be a community after this one?” He said yes. He was asked which community, and he said the community of AḤmad. He was asked what is the community of AḤmad. He said, “Knowers, wise, pious, and godwary, as if in their knowledge they are prophets. They will be content with little provision from God, and He will be content with few deeds from them. He will take them into the Garden by their witnessing that there is no god but God.”
The Exalted Lord did not give these eminent qualities and generous bestowals to AḤmad's community because they have a precedent obedience or the rightful due of service. Indeed, no service comes from them that would be worthy of God, nor does God's lordhood and kingship need any connection with their obedience.
No matter how He may caress, He does so by His own bounty; no matter what He gives, He gives it by His own generosity; no matter what He prepares, He prepares it with own His mercy and loving kindness. For He is a Lord who is recognized as servant-caressing and described by loving kindness. This is why He says at the end of the verse, “Surely God is clement, ever-merciful toward the people.”
God is great in bestowal toward His servants and always lovingly kind. The bestowal of creatures is from time to time and the bestowal of the Real is everlasting. The mark of the Real's bestowal and loving kindness is that He does not give the servant the ability to disobey and He does not put him face-to-face with sin, so the servant does not become worthy of punishment. In terms of mercy, this is more efficacious than forgiving disobedience.
He may also place the servant before disobedience and put the traces of abasement in his outwardness so that people find him repellant. Then the precedent mercy in the beginningless wisdom arrives and takes his hand. In this meaning a story is told about Ayyūb Sakhtyānī. He said, “I had a neighbor who was an evil man. The traces of slipping and disobedience were obvious in his outwardness, and I was exceedingly repelled by him. In the end he left this world. When they lifted his bier, I went off to the corner. I did not want to pray for him. Then someone else saw that evil man in a dream, in a beautiful state and a pleasing guise. He asked him, “What did God do with you?”
He said, “He forgave me with His mercy and He passed over all those improprieties.” Then he said, “Say to Ayyūb the worshiper, 'If you owned the storehouses of my Lord's mercies, you would hold them back in fear of spending them.'”
It may also happen that He brings the causes of tribulation around the servant and shuts the door of ease and solace to him until, once despair appears, He opens the door of mercy and clemency, as the Exalted Lord said: “He it is who sends down the rain after they have despaired and spreads forth His mercy” [42:28]. In this meaning it has been narrated from one of the wholesome that he said, “I saw one of them in a dream and said to him, 'What did God do with you?'
“He said, 'He weighed my beautiful and my ugly deeds, and the ugly deeds preponderated over the beautiful deeds.
Then a purse came from heaven and fell into the pan of good deeds, and it preponderated. I opened the purse, and within it was a handful of dust that I had thrown into the grave of a Muslim. Glory be to Him! How clement He is to His servant!”
2.143 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
Thus, in the same way that We guided you to it, We appointed you, O community of Muhammad (s), a midmost community, excellent and upright, that you might be witnesses to the people, on the Day of Resurrection, that their messengers delivered [the Message] to them; and that the Messenger might be a witness to you, that he delivered [the Message] to you, and We did not appoint, make, the direction, for you now, the direction, you were facing, that is the Ka‘ba: the Prophet (s) used to face it in prayer, but when he emigrated he was commanded to face the Holy House [of Jerusalem], in order to win the hearts of the Jews. He prayed in this direction for sixteen or seventeen months before he changed direction; except that We might know, [that it become] manifest knowledge, who followed the Messenger, and believed in him, from him who turned on his heels, and returned to unbelief doubting the religion and thinking that the Prophet (s) was confused about this issue; and a number of them apostatised as a result of this— though it, the change of direction, were (wa-in, ‘though’, is softened, and its noun apocopated, originally being: wa-innahā) a grave thing, troublesome for people, save for those, of them, whom God has guided; but God would never cause your faith, that is, your prayers towards the Holy House [of Jerusalem], to be wasted, but He will reward you for them (the reason that this [verse] was revealed was that some had asked about the status of those that had died before the change of direction [of prayer]); truly, God is Gentle with, believing, people, Merciful, when He does not let their deeds go to waste (al-ra’fa means ‘intensity of mercy’, and is mentioned first to allow for the end rhyme of the verse [with the preceding one]).
2.143 Kashani - Kashani
[Thus, We appointed you a midmost community that you might be witnesses to the people; and that the Messenger might be a witness to you] The meaning of their being witnesses to the people and of the Messenger's being a witness to them is that they will behold, through the light of Oneness, the dues of religions and will come to know the dues [incumbent] upon the followers of every religion and the due upon every religious person in terms of his [particular] religion, as well as the falsehood that is not the due of [any of] these [religions] but the inventions and desires of their souls, the mendacities of their traditions, their concoctions and their stopping short at their religion and their deeming false all other religions, and their veiling and confining themselves to the exoteric aspect [of their religion] without penetrating deeply its esoteric [dimension] and fundament. For otherwise they would have known the authenticity of Islam, as the path of truth is one, and would not have concealed themselves behind the truths all [other] religions; especially the religion of Islam which is the greatest and most manifest truth. The Messenger beholds the [spiritual] rank of every religious person in relation to that religion of his and the truth of his religion which he follows, as well as the veil by which he veils himself from the perfection of his religion. Thus he [the Messenger] is aware of their sins and the limits of their faith, as well as their deeds, the good ones and the evil ones, their sincerity and their hypocrisy and otherwise, through the light of the Truth; his community knows those [same things] about all other communities through his [their Messenger's light];
and We did not appoint the direction you were facing, except that We might know, [meaning] knowledge at the level of differentiation (tafṣīl) that follows from a thing becoming knowable, not the knowledge that precedes at the source of the union at the beginning of existence, for it [a thing] is known to him by that [initial] knowledge before it comes into existence because all knowledge belongs to Him with no one other than Him possessing any knowledge. Thus our knowledge, by which we know things, manifests itself upon us as the loci of that manifestation through His knowledge, which is His differentiated knowledge, meaning, His knowledge of the details of existents.
Thus by that differentiated mode of knowledge that manifests itself upon us He knows things after they come into existence, just as He knows them by that initial knowledge at the source of union before they come into existence; who followed the Messenger, by declaring His Oneness, from him who turned on his heels, because of his being veiled through his confinement to [his] religion - though it were a grave thing, in other words, that the change [of qibla] was grave, that is was troublesome and burdensome, save for those whom God has guided, those whom God has guided to the affirmation of His Oneness and delivered them from the veil of [religious] confinement; but God would never cause your faith to be wasted, that is, your prayers towards the Holy House [of Jerusalem], because it was [performed] for God. And since it was for Him, in whichever direction you orientated yourselves formerly, He would accept these [prayers]. Upon my life, it was a hardship only for two groups, those veiled by the truth from creation and those veiled by creation from the truth: the former realised that the initial change [of prayer direction], which was from the Kaʿba to the Holy House [of Jerusalem], represented the [external] form of the ascension from the station of the heart and the mystery, meaning, the unveiling and the communion, to the station of the spirit and the hidden, meaning, the witnessing and the direct vision; and so they [this former group] considered the second change [of prayer direction], which had represented the form of the return to the station of the heart in the state of uprightness and stability (tamkīn) for the call, prophethood and the witnessing of the union at the source of differentiation and differentiation at the source of the union where there is no being veiled from creation by the truth or from the truth by creation, [they considered this second change] to be a descent after the ascent and distance after nearness, and they supposed that the efforts to [attain] the more noble station had been wasted and that there was now departure after arrival and a fall from the level, and so this [change] became a hardship for them. As for the other [the second] group, they confined themselves to the [external] form of their rituals and deeds without knowing the wisdom behind the change and supposed the soundness of the latter devotion and not the former and so its going to waste and its invalidation, as they imagined it, became a hardship for them; thus We guided to the opposite of what they had imagined according to what is understood from this verse; truly, God is Gentle with people, gentle to them by expanding the breast and removing the veil in the state of subsistence after annihilation for the former [group] and by accepting what the second [group] performed of deeds out of sincerity even if they were not aware of what they were doing, Merciful, being merciful to them through the existence of the Truth for the first [group] and the reward for deeds and guidance to the truth for the second [group] and His granting to them of success in rising from their state and station to the station of certainty.
2.142-143 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
Changing the Qiblah @ Direction of the Prayer
Imam Al-Bukhari reported that Al-Bara' bin `Azib narrated: "Allah's Messenger offered his prayers facing Bayt Al-Maqdis (Jerusalem) for sixteen or seventeen months, but he wished that he could pray facing the Ka`bah (at Makkah). The first prayer which he offered (facing the Ka`bah) was the `Asr (Afternoon) prayer in the company of some people. Then one of those who had offered that prayer with him, went out and passed by some people in a mosque who were in the bowing position (in Ruku`) during their prayers (facing Jerusalem). He addressed them saying, `By Allah, I bear witness that I have offered prayer with the Prophet facing Makkah (Ka`bah).' Hearing that, those people immediately changed their direction towards the House (Ka`bah) while still as they were (i.e., in the same bowing position). Some Muslims who offered prayer towards the previous Qiblah (Jerusalem) before it was changed towards the House (the Ka`bah in Makkah) had died or had been martyred, and we did not know what to say about them (regarding their prayers towards Jerusalem). Allah then revealed:
وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَـنَكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِالنَّاسِ لَرَءُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ
(And Allah would never make your faith (prayers) to be lost (i.e., the prayers of those Muslims were valid)) (2:143).''
Al-Bukhari collected this narration, while Muslim collected it using another chain of narrators. Muhammad bin Ishaq reported that Al-Bara' narrated: Allah's Messenger used to offer prayers towards Bayt Al-Maqdis (in Jerusalem), but would keep looking at the sky awaiting Allah's command (to change the Qiblah). Then Allah revealed:
قَدْ نَرَى تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَآءِ فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةً تَرْضَاهَا فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ
(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).) (2:144)
A man from among the Muslims then said, "We wish we could know about those among us who died before the Qiblah was changed (i.e., towards Makkah) and also about our own prayers, that we had performed towards Bayt Al-Maqdis.'' Allah then revealed:
وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَـنَكُمْ
(And Allah would never make your faith (prayers) to be lost.) (2:143)
The fools among the people, meaning the People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), said, "What made them change the former Qiblah that they used to face'' Allah then revealed:
سَيَقُولُ السُّفَهَآءُ مِنَ النَّاسِ
(The fools (idolators, hypocrites, and Jews) among the people will say...)
until the end of the Ayah.
`Ali bin Abu Talhah related that Ibn `Abbas said: When Allah's Messenger migrated to Al-Madinah, Allah commanded him to face Bayt Al-Maqdis (Jerusalem). The Jews were delighted then. Allah's Messenger faced Jerusalem for over ten months. However, he liked (to offer prayer in the direction of) Prophet Ibrahim's Qiblah (the Ka`bah in Makkah) and used to supplicate to Allah and kept looking up to the sky (awaiting Allah's command in this regard). Allah then revealed:
فَوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ
(turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction.) meaning, its direction. The Jews did not like this change and said, "What made them change the Qiblah that they used to face (meaning Jerusalem)'' Allah revealed:
قُل لّلَّهِ الْمَشْرِقُ وَالْمَغْرِبُ يَهْدِى مَن يَشَآءُ إِلَى صِرَطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ
(Say (O Muhammad ): "To Allah belong both, east and the west. He guides whom He wills to the straight way.'')
There are several other Ahadith on this subject. In summary, Allah's Messenger was commanded to face Bayt Al-Maqdis (during the prayer) and he used to offer prayer towards it in Makkah between the two corners (of Ka`bah), so that the Ka`bah would be between him and Bayt Al-Maqdis8. When the Prophet migrated to Al-Madinah, this practice was no longer possible; then Allah commanded him to offer prayer towards Bayt Al-Maqdis, as Ibn Abbas and the majority of the scholars have stated.
Al-Bukhari reported in his Sahih that the news (of the change of Qiblah) was conveyed to some of the Ansar while they were performing the `Asr (Afternoon) prayer towards Bayt Al-Maqdis, upon hearing that, they immediately changed their direction and faced the Ka`bah.
It is reported in the Sahihayn (Al-Bukhari Muslim) that Ibn `Umar narrated: While the people were in Quba' (Mosque) performing the Fajr (Dawn) prayer, a man came and said, "A (part of the) Qur'an was revealed tonight to Allah's Messenger and he was commanded to face the Ka`bah. Therefore, face the Ka`bah. They were facing Ash-Sham, so they turned towards the Ka`bah.
These Hadiths prove that the Nasikh (a Text that abrogates a previous Text) only applies after one acquires knowledge of it, even if the Nasikh had already been revealed and announced. This is why the Companions mentioned above were not commanded to repeat the previous `Asr, Maghrib and `Isha' prayers (although they had prayed them towards Jerusalem after Allah had changed the Qiblah). Allah knows best.
When the change of Qiblah (to Ka`bah in Makkah) occurred, those inflicted with hypocrisy and mistrust, and the disbelieving Jews, both were led astray from the right guidance and fell into confusion. They said:
مَا وَلَّـهُمْ عَن قِبْلَتِهِمُ الَّتِى كَانُواْ عَلَيْهَا
(What has turned them (Muslims) from their Qiblah to which they used to face in prayer.)
They asked, "What is the matter with these people (Muslims) who one time face this direction (Jerusalem), and then face that direction (Makkah)'' Allah answered their questions when He stated:
قُل لّلَّهِ الْمَشْرِقُ وَالْمَغْرِبُ
(Say (O Muhammad ): "To Allah belong both, east and the west.) meaning, the command, the decision and the authority are for Allah Alone. Hence:
فَأَيْنَمَا تُوَلُّواْ فَثَمَّ وَجْهُ اللَّهِ
( wherever you turn (yourselves or your faces) there is the Face of Allah (and He is High above, over His Throne).) (2:115),
لَّيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَلَـكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ ءَامَنَ بِاللَّهِ
( It is not Al-Birr (piety, righteousness) that you turn your faces towards east and (or) west (in prayers); but Al-Birr is the one who believes in Allah.) (2:177) This statement means, the best act is to adhere to Allah's commands. Hence, wherever He commands us to face, we should face. Also, since obedience requires implementing Allah's commands, if He commands us every day to face different places, we are His servants and under His disposal, and we face whatever He orders us to face. Certainly, Allah's care and kindness towards His servant and Messenger, Muhammad, and certainly, his Ummah (Muslim nation) is profoundly great. Allah has guided them to the Qiblah of (Prophet) Ibrahim -- Allah's Khalil (intimate friend). He has commanded them to face the Ka`bah, the most honorable house (of worship) on the face of the earth, which was built by Ibrahim Al-Khalil in the Name of Allah, the One without a partner. This is why Allah said afterwards:
قُل لّلَّهِ الْمَشْرِقُ وَالْمَغْرِبُ يَهْدِى مَن يَشَآءُ إِلَى صِرَطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ
(Say (O Muhammad ): "To Allah belong both, east and the west. He guides whom He wills to the straight way.'')
Imam Ahmad reported that `A'ishah (the Prophet's wife) said that Allah's Messenger said about the People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians):
«إنَّهُم لا يَحْسِدونَنَا عَلَى شَيْء كَمَا يَحْسِدونَنا عَلَى يَوْمِ الْجُمُعَةِ الَّتِي هَدَانَا اللهُ لَهَا وَضَلُوا عَنْهَا وَعَلَى الْقِبْلَةِ الَّتِي هَدَانَا اللهُ لَهَا وَضَلُّوا عَنْهَا وَعَلَى قَوْلِنَا خَلْفَ الإِمَامِ: آمِين»
(They do not envy us for a matter more than they envy us for Jumu`ah (Friday) to which Allah has guided us and from which they were led astray; for the (true) Qiblah to which Allah has directed us and from which they were led astray; and for our saying `Amin' behind the Imam (leader of the prayer).)
The Virtues of Muhammad's Nation
Allah said:
وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَـكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُواْ شُهَدَآءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا
(Thus We have made you true Muslims, a Wasat (just) (and the best) nation, that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger (Muhammad ) be a witness over you.)
Allah stated that He has changed our Qiblah to the Qiblah of Ibrahim and chose it for us so that He makes us the best nation ever. Hence, we will be the witnesses over the nations on the Day of Resurrection, for all of them will then agree concerning our virtue. The word Wasat in the Ayah means the best and the most honored. Therefore, saying that (the Prophet's tribe) Quraysh is in the Wasat regarding Arab tribes and their areas, means the best. Similarly, saying that Allah's Messenger was in the Wasat of his people, means he was from the best subtribe. Also, `Asr, the prayer that is described as `Wusta' (a variation of the word Wasat), means the best prayer, as the authentic collections of Ahadith reported. Since Allah made this Ummah (Muslim nation) the Wasat, He has endowed her with the most complete legislation, the best Manhaj (way, method, etc.,) and the clearest Madhhab (methodology, mannerism, etc). Allah said:
هُوَ اجْتَبَـكُمْ وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكمْ فِى الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ مِّلَّةَ أَبِيكُمْ إِبْرَهِيمَ هُوَ سَمَّـكُمُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ مِن قَبْلُ وَفِى هَـذَا لِيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ شَهِيداً عَلَيْكُمْ وَتَكُونُواْ شُهَدَآءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ
(He has chosen you (to convey His Message of Islamic Monotheism to mankind), and has not laid upon you in religion any hardship: it is the religion of your father Ibrahim. It is He (Allah) Who has named you Muslims both before and in this (the Qur'an), that the Messenger (Muhammad ) may be a witness over you and you be witnesses over mankind!) (22:78)
Moreover, Imam Ahmad reported that Abu Sa`id narrated: Allah's Messenger said:
«يُدْعَى نُوحٌ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامة، فَيُقَالُ لَهُ: هَلْ بَلَّغْتَ؟ فَيَقُولُ: نَعَمْ، فَيُدْعَى قَوْمُهُ فَيُقَالُ لَهُمْ: هَلْ بَلَّغَكُمْ فَيَقُولُونَ: مَا أتَانَا مِنْ نَذِيرٍ وَمَا أتَانَا مِنْ أَحَدٍ، فَيُقَالُ لِنُوح: مَنْ يَشْهَدُ لَكَ؟ فَيَقُولُ: مُحَمَّدٌ وَأُمَّتُهُ، قال فَذلِكَ قَوْلُهُ:
وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَـكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا
قَالَ: والْوَسَطُ الْعَدْلُ، فَتُدْعَون فَتَشْهَدُونَ لَهُ بِالْبَلَاغِ ثُمَّ أَشْهَدُ عَلَيْكُم»
(Nuh will be called on the Day of Resurrection and will be asked, `Have you conveyed (the Message)' He will say, `Yes.' His people will be summoned and asked, `Has Nuh conveyed (the Message) to you' They will say, `No warner came to us and no one (Prophet) was sent to us.' Nuh will be asked, `Who testifies for you' He will say, `Muhammad and his Ummah.')
This is why Allah said:
وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَـكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا
(Thus We have made you a Wasat nation.)
The Prophet said; (The Wasat means the `Adl (just). You will be summoned to testify that Nuh has conveyed (his Message), and I will attest to your testimony.)
It was also recorded by Al-Bukhari, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa'i and Ibn Majah.
Imam Ahmad also reported that Abu Sa`id Khudri narrated: Allah's Messenger said:
«يَجِيءُ النَّبِيُّ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَمَعَهُ الرَّجُلَانِ وَأَكْثَرُ مِنْ ذلِكَ، فيُدْعَى قَوْمُهُ، فَيُقَالُ: هَلْ بَلَّغَكُمْ هَذَا؟ فَيَقُولُونَ: لَا فَيُقالُ لَهُ: هَلْ بَلَّغْتَ قَوْمَكَ؟ فَيَقُولُ: نَعَمْ، فَيُقالُ: مَنْ يَشْهَدُ لَكَ؟ فَيَقُولُ: مُحَمَّدٌ وَأُمَّتُهُ، فَيُدْعَى مُحَمَّدٌ وَأُمَّتُهُ، فَيُقَالُ لَهُمْ: هَلْ بَلَّغَ هذَا قَوْمَهُ؟ فَيَقُولُونَ: نَعَمْ، فَيُقَالُ: وَمَا عِلْمُكُمْ؟ فَيَقُولُونَ: جَاءَنَا نَبِيُّنَاصلى الله عليه وسلّم فأخْبَرَنَا أَنَّ الرُّسُلَ قَدْ بَلَّغُوا، فَذلِك قَوْلُهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ:
وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَـكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا
قَالَ: عَدْلًا
وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَـكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُواْ شُهَدَآءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا
(The Prophet would come on the Day of Resurrection with two or more people (his only following!), and his people would also be summoned and asked, `Has he (their Prophet) conveyed (the Message) to you' They would say, `No.' He would be asked, `Have you conveyed (the Message) to your people' He would say, `Yes.' He would be asked, `Who testifies for you' He would say, `Muhammad and his Ummah.' Muhammad and his Ummah would then be summoned and asked, `Has he conveyed (the Message) to his people' They would say, `Yes.' They would be asked, `Who told you that' They would say, `Our Prophet (Muhammad) came to us and told us that the Messengers have conveyed (their Messages). ')
Hence Allah's statement:
وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَـكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا
(Thus We have made you a Wasat nation.)
He said, "(meaning) the `Adl,' (he then continued reciting the Ayah):
وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَـكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُواْ شُهَدَآءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا
(Thus We have made you, a just (and the best) nation, that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger (Muhammad ) be a witness over you.)''
Furthermore, Imam Ahmad reported that Abul-Aswad narrated: I came to Al-Madinah and found that an epidemic had broken out that caused many fatalities. I sat next to `Umar bin Al-Khattab once when a funeral procession started and the people praised the dead person. `Umar said, "Wajabat (it will be recorded as such), Wajabat!'' Then another funeral was brought forth and the people criticized the dead person. Again, `Umar said, "Wajabat.'' Abul-Aswad asked, "What is Wajabat, O Leader of the faithful'' He said, "I said just like Allah's Messenger had said:
«أَيُّمَا مُسْلِمٍ شَهِدَ لَهُ أَرْبَعَةٌ بِخَيْر أَدْخَلَهُ اللهُ الْجَنَّــة»
قَالَ: فَقُلْنَا وَثَلَاثَةٌ؟ قَالَ: فَقَالَ:
قَالَ: فَقُلْنَا وَاثْنَانِ: قَالَ
. ثُمَّ لَمْ نَسْأَلْهُ عَنِ الْوَاحِدِ.
(Any Muslim for whom four testify that he was righteous, then Allah will enter him into Paradise.' We said, `What about three' He said, `And three.' We said, `And two' He said, `And two.' We did not ask him about (the testimony) of one (believing) person.)''
This was also recorded by Al-Bukhari, At-Tirmidhi, and An-Nasa'i.
The Wisdom behind changing the Qiblah
Allah then said:
وَمَا جَعَلْنَا الْقِبْلَةَ الَّتِى كُنتَ عَلَيْهَآ إِلاَّ لِنَعْلَمَ مَن يَتَّبِعُ الرَّسُولَ مِمَّن يَنقَلِبُ عَلَى عَقِبَيْهِ وَإِن كَانَتْ لَكَبِيرَةً إِلاَّ عَلَى الَّذِينَ هَدَى اللَّهُ
(And We made the Qiblah (prayer direction towards Jerusalem) which you used to face, only to test those who followed the Messenger (Muhammad ) from those who would turn on their heels (i.e., disobey the Messenger). Indeed it was great (heavy, difficult) except for those whom Allah guided.)
Allah states thus: We have legislated for you, O Muhammad, facing Bayt Al-Maqdis at first and then changed it to the Ka`bah so as to find who will follow and obey you and thus face whatever you face.
مِمَّن يَنقَلِبُ عَلَى عَقِبَيْهِ
(...from those who would turn on their heels.) meaning, reverts from his religion. Allah then said:
وَإِن كَانَتْ لَكَبِيرَةً
(Indeed it was great (heavy, difficult))
The Ayah indicates that changing the Qiblah from Bayt Al-Maqdis to the Ka`bah is heavy on the heart, except for whomever Allah has rightly guided their hearts, who believe in the truth of the Messenger with certainty and that whatever he was sent with is the truth without doubt. It is they who believe that Allah does what He wills, decides what He wills, commands His servants with what He wills, abrogates any of His commands that He wills, and that He has the perfect wisdom and the unequivocal proof in all this. (The attitude of the believers in this respect is) unlike those who have a disease in their hearts, to whom whenever a matter occurs, it causes doubts, just as this same matter adds faith and certainty to the believers. Similarly, Allah said:
وَإِذَا مَآ أُنزِلَتْ سُورَةٌ فَمِنْهُمْ مَّن يَقُولُ أَيُّكُمْ زَادَتْهُ هَـذِهِ إِيمَـناً فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ ءامَنُواْ فَزَادَتْهُمْ إِيمَـناً وَهُمْ يَسْتَبْشِرُونَ وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ فِى قُلُوبِهِم مَّرَضٌ فَزَادَتْهُمْ رِجْسًا إِلَى رِجْسِهِمْ
(And whenever there comes down a Surah (chapter from the Qur'an), some of them (hypocrites) say: "Which of you has had his faith increased by it'' As for those who believe, it has increased their faith, and they rejoice. But as for those in whose hearts is a disease (of doubt, disbelief and hypocrisy), it will add doubt and disbelief to their doubt and disbelief; and they die while they are disbelievers.) (9:124, 125)
وَنُنَزِّلُ مِنَ الْقُرْءَانِ مَا هُوَ شِفَآءٌ وَرَحْمَةٌ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَلاَ يَزِيدُ الظَّـلِمِينَ إَلاَّ خَسَارًا
(And We send down of the Qur'an that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe, and it increases the wrongdoers in nothing but loss.) (17:82)
Certainly, those who remained faithful to the Messenger, obeyed him and faced whatever Allah commanded them, without doubt or hesitation, were the leaders of the Companions. Some scholars stated that the Early Migrants (who migrated with the Prophet from Makkah to Al-Madinah) and Ansar (the residents of Al-Madinah who gave aid and refuge to both the Prophet and the Migrants) were those who offered prayers towards the two Qiblah (Bayt Al-Maqdis and then the Ka`bah). Al-Bukhari reported in the explanation of the Ayah (2:143) that Ibn `Umar narrated: While the people were performing the Fajr (Dawn) prayer in the Quba' Mosque, a man came and said, "Qur'an was revealed to the Prophet and he was ordered to face the Ka`bah. Therefore, face the Ka`bah.'' They then faced the Ka`bah. Muslim also recorded it.
At-Tirmidhi added that they were performing Ruku` (bowing down in prayer), and then changed the direction (of the Qiblah) to the Ka`bah while still bowing down. Muslim reported this last narration from Anas. These Hadiths all indicate the perfect obedience the Companions had for Allah and His Messenger and their compliance with Allah's commandments, may Allah be pleased with them all.
Allah said:
وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَـنَكُمْ
(And Allah would never make your faith (prayers) to be lost.) meaning, the reward of your prayers towards Bayt Al-Maqdis before would not be lost with Allah. It is reported in Sahih that Abu Ishaq As-Sabi`y related that Bara' narrated: "The people asked about the matter of those who offered prayers towards Bayt Al-Maqdis and died (before the Qiblah was changed to Ka`bah). Allah revealed:
وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَـنَكُمْ
(And Allah would never make your faith (prayers) to be lost.)''
It was also recorded by At-Tirmidhi from Ibn `Abbas, and At-Tirmidhi graded it Sahih.
Ibn Ishaq reported that Ibn `Abbas narrated:
وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَـنَكُمْ
(And Allah would never make your faith to be lost.) entails: Your (prayer towards) the first Qiblah and your believing your Prophet and obeying him by facing the second Qiblah; He will grant you the rewards for all these acts. Indeed,
إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِالنَّاسِ لَرَءُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ
(Truly, Allah is full of kindness, the Most Merciful towards mankind.)''
Furthermore, it is reported in the Sahih that Allah's Messenger saw a woman among the captives who was separated from her child. Whenever she found a boy (infant) among the captives, she would hold him close to her chest, as she was looking for her boy. When she found her child, she embraced him and gave him her breast to nurse. Allah's Messenger said:
« أَتُرَوْنَ هذِهِ طَارِحَةً وَلَدَهَا فِي النَّارِ وَهِي تَقْدِرُ عَلى أَنْ لَا تَطْرَحَه»
؟ قَالُوا: لَا يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ. قَالَ:
«فَوَاللهِ للهُ أَرْحَمُ بِعِبَادِهِ مِنْ هذِهِ بِوَلَدِهَا»
(Do you think that this woman would willingly throw her son in the fire) They said, "No, O Messenger of Allah!'' He said, (By Allah! Allah is more merciful with His servants than this woman with her son.)
2.143 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
The change of the qiblah also served to separate the Believers from the slaves of prejudice and racialism. On the one side, there were the Arabs who were not ready to give up their own Ka'bah and to adopt the Temple at Jerusalem as the qiblah. They were tried first. It was a hard test but the sincere believers passed successfully through this and the worshippers of the idol of nationalism failed. Now when the qiblah was changed from Jerusalem to the Ka'bah, those Jews and Christians who had embraced Islam were put to the test. It was very difficult for them to accept any other qiblah than the one of their forefathers. Thus the worshippers of race, who turned back from Islam were separated from the worshippers of Allah and fatally the worshippers of Allah only remained with the Holy Prophet.
2.143 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
Thus We appointed you a community of the middle way that you might be witnesses to the people; and that the Messenger might be a witness to you The middle way is the best and He appointed this community the best of communities. He appointed this group ṬāÌifa the best of this community for they are the best of the best. Just as this community will be witnesses over the communities at the resurrection so this group are the [foundational] roots uṣūl around which [the community] turns: they are the pole quṬb and through them God protects the entire community. Whomever their hearts accept is accepted and whomever their hearts reject is rejected-the judgment ḥukm is theirs.Their inward perception firāsa is sincere and true their judgment is sound and their reflective thought naẓar is correct; [they are] a protection for the entire community from agreeing on error. The protection of this group from error comes from [their] consideration and judgment [their] acceptance and rejection. Moreover the building of their affair rests upon the way sunna of the Messenger ﷺ. Anything which is not an emulation of the Messenger عليه السلام is a rejection of him and its follower has nothing. We did not appoint the direction you were facing except that We might know who followed the Messenger from him who turned on his heels-though it were a grave thing save for those whom God has guided; but God would never cause your faith to be wasted; truly God is Gentle with people Merciful. [God] explained that the decree in determining the matter of the qibla up to the time of the change and then at the time of the substitution was a test for them from the Real in order to distinguish the sincere ṣādiq from the one who reneges māriq. To those who viewed the matter with the eye of separation ʿayn al-tafriqa the change was intolerable. To those who looked with the eye of reality ʿayn al-ḥaqīqa the true sense appeared to their inner sight baṣīra. Then He said “but God would never cause your faith to be wasted.” That is for those who are with God in all [their] states with one heart the differences in their states are one whether He causes change or stillness makes firm or shifts confirms or changes-they are through Him for Him in all [their] states. The one who spoke for them said: However the glass turns we turn. The ignorant think we have become crazed. Whether they face the east or west whether they turn toward a stone or approach dry earth the goal of their hearts is one and what belongs to the One so the decree of everything in it is one.
2.143 Tustari - Al-Tustari
…a community of the middle [way] (wasaṭan)…That is, they are just. In this way, a believer gives credence to God’s servants in accordance with His words, He believes in God, and has faith in the believers [9:61], which means that he affirms [the truth of] God and ascribes truth to the believers.His words, Exalted is He:
…For God is gentle with people, merciful.That is, He shows great [lit. intense, shadīd] mercy (raḥma) and kindness (raʾfa) towards them. This refers to the gentleness (rifq) and clemency (ḥilm) that He shows them due to His knowledgeof their weakness and of the fact that they have no strength before Him, except through Him and from Him.
2.143 Wahidi - Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi
(But it was not Allah’s purpose that your faith should be in vain…) [2:143]. Said Ibn ‘Abbas, according to the report of al-Kalbi: “Some of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, had died while praying toward the first qiblah. Among these were As‘ad ibn Zurarah, Abu Umamah from the Banu’l-Najjar, al-Bara’ ibn Ma‘rur from Banu Salamah as well as other people whose tribes came to the Prophet and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Our brothers have died while praying toward the first qiblah. What will happen to our brothers now that Allah has directed you to pray toward the qiblah of Abraham?’ And Allah, exalted is He, revealed (But it was not Allah’s purpose that your faith should be in vain)”.