Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And each one hath a goal) to each adherent of a religion a Qiblah (towards which he turneth) he faces according to his own whim; it is also said that this means: to each prophet a Qiblah, which is the Ka'bah, towards which he is ordered to face; (so vie with one another in good works) so hasten, O community of Muhammad, to perform acts of obedience more than any other nation. (Wheresoever you may be) on land or at sea, (Allah will bring you all together) gather you together and reward you for the good works you performed. (Lo! Allah is Able to do all things) like gathering you together as well as other things.
The creatures have five kiblahs. First is the Throne, second the Footstool, third the Inhabited House, fourth the Holy House [Jerusalem], and fifth the Kaabah. The Throne is the kiblah of the angels who carry it. The Footstool is the kiblah of the cherubim. The Inhabited House is the kiblah of the spirituals. The Holy House is the kiblah of the prophets. The Kaabah is the kiblah of the faithful. The Throne is of light, the Footstool of gold, the Inhabited House of carnelian, the Holy House of marble, and the Kaabah of stone.
This is an allusion for the faithful servant: “If you cannot come to the Throne to circumambulate, or to the Footstool to visit, or to the Inhabited House to worship, or to the Holy House to serve, then at least you can turn your face five times a day toward this stone, which is the kiblah of the faithful, and receive the reward for all of them.”
Everyone has a direction. One of them has said that the allusion here is this: “All people have been distracted from Me by something that has come between Me and them. So, O faithful, belong to Me and be through Me.”
In terms of allusion, He is saying, “All the people have turned away from Me. They have become familiar with others without Me. They have made their sweetheart other than Me and accepted the other in friendship.
“You who are the chevaliers of the Tariqah and claim friendship with Me, lift up your eyes from anything beneath Me, even if it be the highest paradise. Then you will go straight in following the Sunnah and conduct of MuṣṬafā and you will perform the rightful due of emulating that
paragon of the world. For, as the greatest of the prophets, his conduct was to turn his eyes away from all beings and not to see any refuge nor to approve of any resting place other than the shelter of Unity.”
When a man wears down his spirit in passion's road he'd best incline toward none but the Friend.
In passion's road the passionate
must not think of hell or paradise.
When someone puts himself right in following MuṣṬafā, the candle of friendship with the Real will be lit in his road and he will never fall away from friendship's avenue.
To this is the allusion in the verse, “Follow me; God will love you” [3:31]. Whenever someone goes straight on friendship's avenue, he will be secure from all the directions that are the kiblahs of the mimickers. One of the distracted said in his state,
“So what if I don't have the world's kiblahmy kiblah is the Beloved's street, just that.
Take this world, that world, and all that exists-
the passionate have the Beloved's face, just that.”
Ḥallāj alluded to the kiblahs of the mimickers when he said, “The desirers have been turned over to what they desire.” Everyone has been sat down with his own beloved.
The truth of this work is that all creatures have claimed friendship with the Real, but there was no one who did not want to be someone in His court.
Whoever finds a name for himself finds it from that Courtbelong to Him, brother, and think of no one else.
Since all claim friendship with the Real, He strikes them with the touchstone of trial in order to show them to themselves without Him. He threw something into them and made it their kiblah, so they turned their faces to it. In one it was wealth, in another position, in another a spouse, in another a lovely face, in another boasting, in another knowledge, in another renunciation, in another worship, in another fancy. He threw all these into the people, so they busied themselves with them, and no one spoke of Him. They all stayed empty of the road of seeking Him.
This is why Abu Yazīd BasṬāmī said, “I passed by His gate, but I did not see any crowding there. The folk of this world were veiled by this world, the folk of the afterworld were veiled by the afterworld, and the Sufi claimants were veiled by eating, drinking, and begging. There were others among them of a higher level who were veiled by music and lovely faces. But the great leaders of the Sufis were not veiled by any of these. Rather, I saw that they were bewildered and intoxicated.” The Pir of the Tariqah said something with the taste of these words: “I recognize the drink-
ing place, but I'm not able to drink. Heart-thirsty, I weep in hope of a drop. The fountain cannot quench me-I'm seeking the ocean. I passed by a thousand springs and rivers in hopes of finding the ocean. Have you ever seen someone drowning in fire? I'm like that. Have you ever seen someone thirsty in a lake? That's what I am. I'm exactly like someone lost in the desert. I keep on saying, 'Help! I'm at wit's end! I've lost my heart!'”
Every person, of every community, has his direction (wijha), [his] qibla, to which he turns (muwallīhā, ‘he turns to it’, is also read as muwallāhā, ‘he is made to turn to it’), in his prayers, so vie with one another in good works, strive with acts of obedience and acceptance of these. Wherever you may be, God will bring you all together, gathering you on the Day of Resurrection and requiting you for your deeds; surely God has power over all things.
Every person has his direction to which he turns, in other words, every person among you has an ultimate purpose and a perfection in accordance with [the extent of] his original preparedness, [a direction] to which God turns that person's face, or [a direction] to which he himself turns his soul, turning towards it in the measure commensurate with his ipseity and his preparedness by God's permission; so vie with one another in good works, [in] those matters that bring you closer to your perfection and your purpose, for which you were created and to which you are urged. Wherever you may be, in terms of station and state below [that perfection or goal] or in conflict therewith by virtue of [that station or state] being opposite to it, God will bring you all together, to that purpose, sooner or later, depending on the extent to which those things that bring you closer are required [for each of you] and [the extent to which] you vie [against one another] in them; surely God has power over all things.
(For every nation there is a direction to which they face (in their prayers))
"This talks about followers of the various religions. Hence, every nation and tribe has its own Qiblah that they choose, while Allah's appointed Qiblah is what the believers face.''
Abul-`Aliyah said, "The Jew has a direction to which he faces (in the prayer). The Christian has a direction to which he faces. Allah has guided you, O (Muslim) Ummah, to a Qiblah which is the true Qiblah.'' This statement was also related to Mujahid, `Ata' Ad-Dahhak, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, As-Suddi, and others.
(To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way. If Allah had willed, He would have made you one nation, but that (He) may test you in what He has given you; so compete in good deeds. The return of you (all) is to Allah.) (5:48)
(Wheresoever you may be, Allah will bring you together (on the Day of Resurrection). Truly, Allah is able to do all things.) meaning: He is able to gather you from the earth even if your bodies and flesh disintegrated and scattered.
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
There is a subtle gap between the first sentence and the second, which has been left for the reader to fill. Everyone who wants to offer his Prayer must turn his face to one or the other direction. But the real thing that matters is not the direction of the face at prayer but those virtues which are to be gained by offering the prayer. Hence the thing that really matters is the spirit and real purpose of the Prayer and not any particular direction or place.
Every person has his direction to which he turns so vie with one another in good works. Wherever you may be God will bring you all together; surely God has power over all things. 'The allusion in it is to the fact that every people are distracted from Us by something that comes between them and Us. So be you O believers for Us and through Us'. One of them recited: When preoccupation with their concern distracted me from you I made you my preoccupation and you made me forget my concern.