The Quran

Commentaries for 2.149

Al Baqara (The cow) - البقرة

2.149 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And whencesoever you comest forth (for prayer, O Muhammad) turn thy face) in prayer (towards the Inviolable Place of Worship; Lo! It) the Inviolable Place of Worship (is the Truth from your Lord) it is the Qiblah of Abraham, Allah bless him. (And Allah is not unaware) heedless (of what ye do) of what you conceal about the Qiblah of Abraham and other things.
2.149 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
From whatever place you issue, on a journey, turn your face towards the Sacred Mosque; it is the truth from your Lord. God is not heedless of what you do (ta‘malūna, ‘you do’, may also be read as ya‘malūna, ‘they do’, as already appears above [sc. 2:144]; its repetition is intended to point out that the stipulation applies equally to being on a journey or otherwise).
2.149 Kashani - Kashani
From whatever place you issue forth, out of the paths of your senses and your inclination to your shares and concern for your welfare and the welfare of the believers, turn your face towards the Sacred Mosque, in other words, be present before the Truth in your heart, facing your breast, witnessing therein witnessings and paying attention to its side so that you might be in relation to things through God and not the soul;
[it is the truth from your Lord. God is not heedless of what you do.
2.149-150 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
Why was changing the Qiblah mentioned thrice
This is a third command from Allah to face Al-Masjid Al-Haram (the Sacred Mosque) from every part of the world (during prayer). It was said that Allah mentioned this ruling again here because it is connected to whatever is before and whatever is after it. Hence, Allah first said:
قَدْ نَرَى تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَآءِ 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) (2:144), until:
وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَـبَ لَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ وَمَا اللَّهُ بِغَـفِلٍ عَمَّا يَعْمَلُونَ
(Certainly, the people who were given the Scripture (i.e., Jews and the 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 unaware of what they do.) (2:144)
Allah mentioned in these Ayat His fulfillment of the Prophet's wish and ordered him to face the Qiblah that he liked and is pleased with. In the second command, Allah said:
وَمِنْ حَيْثُ خَرَجْتَ فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَإِنَّهُ لَلْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّكَ وَمَا اللَّهُ بِغَـفِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ
(And from wheresoever you start forth (for prayers), turn your face in the direction of Al-Masid Al-Haram that is indeed the truth from your Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what you do.)
Therefore, Allah states here that changing the Qiblah is also the truth from Him, thus upgrading the subject more than in the first Ayah, in which Allah agreed to what His Prophet had wished for. Thus Allah states that this is also the truth from Him that He likes and is pleased with. In the third command, Allah refutes the Jewish assertion that the Prophet faced their Qiblah, as they knew in their Books that the Prophet will later on be commanded to face the Qiblah of Ibrahim, the Ka`bah. The Arab disbelievers had no more argument concerning the Prophet's Qiblah after Allah commanded the Prophet to face the Qiblah of Ibrahim, which is more respected and honored, rather than the Qiblah of the Jews. The Arabs used to honor the Ka`bah and liked the fact that the Messenger was commanded to face it.
The Wisdom behind abrogating the Previous Qiblah
Allah said:
لِئَلاَّ يَكُونَ لِلنَّاسِ عَلَيْكُمْ حُجَّةٌ
( that men may have no argument against you)
Therefore, the People of the Book knew from the description of the Muslim Ummah that they would be ordered to face the Ka`bah. If the Muslims did not fit this description, the Jews would have used this fact against the Muslims. If the Muslims had remained on the Qiblah of Bayt Al-Maqdis, which was also the Qiblah of the Jews, this fact could have been used as the basis of argument by the Jews against other people.
Allah's Statement:
إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ مِنْهُمْ
(...except those of them that are wrongdoers,) indicates the Mushrikin (polytheists) of Quraysh. The reasoning of these unjust persons was the unsound statement: "This man (Muhammad) claims that he follows the religion of Ibrahim! Hence, if his facing Bayt Al-Maqdis was a part of the religion of Ibrahim, why did he change it'' The answer to this question is that Allah has chosen His Prophet to face Bayt Al-Maqdis first for certain wisdom, and he obeyed Allah regarding this command. Then, Allah changed the Qiblah to the Qiblah of Ibrahim, which is the Ka`bah, and he also obeyed Allah in this command. He, obeys Allah in all cases and never engages in the defiance of Allah even for an instant, and his Ummah imitates him in this.
Allah said:
فَلاَ تَخْشَوْهُمْ وَاخْشَوْنِى
( fear them not, but fear Me!) meaning: `Do not fear the doubts that the unjust, stubborn persons raise and fear Me Alone.' Indeed, Allah Alone deserves to be feared.
Allah said:
وَلاٌّتِمَّ نِعْمَتِى عَلَيْكُمْ
( that I may complete My blessings on you.)
This Ayah relates to Allah's statement:
لِئَلاَّ يَكُونَ لِلنَّاسِ عَلَيْكُمْ حُجَّةٌ
( that men may have no argument against you), meaning: I will perfect My bounty on you by legislating for you to face the Ka`bah, so that the (Islamic) Shari`ah (law) is complete in every respect. Allah said:
وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ
(...that you may be guided.), meaning: `To be directed and guided to what the nations have been led astray from, We have guided you to it and preferred you with it.' This is why this Ummah is the best and most honored nation ever.
2.149-152 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
That is, "We have reiterated this Commandment lest anyone of you should turn his face to any other direction in the prayer and give to opponents cause to say, `These people of the ummat wasat claim that they are witnesses of the Truth but their behaviour falsifies it. While they profess that the Commandment about the change of the giblah has come from their Lord, they do not act upon it'.
The blessing refers to the blessing of leadership which Allah had wrested from the children of Israel and invested in the Muslims. This is the greatest reward which is given to any community when it adopts and follows the righteous way and is entrusted by Allah with the work of guiding the world on the path of virtue. Here Allah tells the Muslims, "The change of giblah is symbolic of the change of leadership. You should, therefore, observe this Commandment strictly, lest leadership should be wrested from you on account of your disobedience or ingratitude. This favour will be conferred on you in perfection, if you obey the Commandment
That is, "You should expect this blessing if you submit to this Commandment about the change of the giblah." This promise is very encouraging for a servant of Allah. The assurance gives him great consolation that he should expect such a great reward from his King, if he obeys His Commandments with all his heart and soul.
2.149 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
From whatever place you issue turn your face towards the Sacred Mosque; it is the truth from your Lord. God is not heedless of what you do. 'Just as you face the qibla from wherever you are whether you are near or far from it likewise draw near to Us in your heart whatever your state whether you are in good fortune from Us or afflicted'.