The Quran

Commentaries for 2.150

Al Baqara (The cow) - البقرة

2.150 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Whencesoever thou comest forth) you are to (turn thy face) in prayer (towards the Inviolable Place of Worship; and wheresoever ye may be (O Muslims)) on land or at sea (turn your faces) in prayer (towards it (when ye pray) so that men) 'Abdullah Ibn Salam and his Companions (may have no argument against you) regarding the changing of the Qiblah because in their Scripture the Inviolable Place of Worship was the Qiblah of Abraham; therefore if you pray towards it, they will have no argument against you, (save such of them as do injustice) nor would those who transgressed with their words have any argument against you, and these included Ka'b Ibn Ashraf and the Arab idolaters (-Fear them not) regarding the changing of the Qiblah, (but fear Me) in leaving the old Qiblah (-so that I may complete My grace upon you) by giving you a Qiblah just as I have completed for you your Religion, (and that you be guided) to the Qiblah of Abraham.
2.150 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
From whatever place you issue, turn your face towards the Sacred Mosque; and wherever you may be, turn your faces towards it (all of which is being repeated for emphasis), so that there be not any argument from the people, the Jews or the idolaters, against you, [so that there be not] any cause for contention regarding the change to a different direction of prayer. In this way, their contentions against you will cease to exist, both [the contentions] of the Jews when they say, ‘He [Muhammad (s)] rejects our religion, but follows our direction of prayer’, and of the idolaters when they say, ‘He [Muhammad (s)] claims to follow the creed of Abraham, but he contravenes his [Abraham’s] qibla’; excepting the evildoers among them, acting in obstinacy, who will say, ‘He [Muhammad (s)] only changed to this direction because of his [natural] inclination towards the [idolatrous] religion of his forefathers’. The exceptive statement [indicated by illā] is a continuous one, the meaning being: ‘No one will have anything to say against you, except for what these people say’; and do not fear them, do not fear their arguing [with you] regarding the change to it [the Ka‘ba], but fear Me, by complying with My command; and that I may perfect My grace upon you, by guiding you to the principal rituals of your religion, and that you may be guided, to the truth (wa-li-utimma, ‘that I may perfect’, is a supplement to li-allā yakūna, ‘that there be not’).
2.150 Kashani - Kashani
From whatever place you issue, turn your face towards the Sacred Mosque;] and wherever you may be, O believers, turn your faces [towards it], to the side of the breast witnessing your witnessings in it, paying attention to it and not turning away from it in any state, so that there be not against you, from the people, any argument, any authoritativeness by [the possibility] that they might seem weighty in your eyes, or that you should take them into consideration [unduly] during your absence from the truth, or because of their feigning superiority over you; or [it means] [lest there be] any overpowering [by them of you] through words or deeds with respect to what you are seeking and demanding, for you will be upon the truth in [seeking] these then; nay, let them submit and yield to you: for verily the party of God, they are the victors [Q. 5:56]; excepting [illā] the evildoers among them, namely, the disbelievers, those who have been driven away, who have veiled themselves from the truth absolutely, for they are contemptuous of you, neither submitting nor yielding because of their failure absolutely to act upon the truth. The specious claim which they attempt to present as being [a valid] argument and their objection to the Muslims in both word and deed, and their haughtiness towards them in their souls, He has called an 'argument' [but only] figuratively; a variant reading has alā [instead of illā] as an [interjectory] alert so that a new sentence begins with the evildoers [among them]: do not fear them, because they cannot overpower you or harm you, but fear Me, be in awe of My Grandeur self-disclosing itself, lest they acquire standing in your hearts and eyes, and lest your breasts incline and so you incline to agree with them in reverence and exaltation of them by virtue of your being in absence and [ensconced] in the soul, as the commander of the believers [ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib], peace be upon him, said: '[If you] extol the Creator in yourself, [His] creatures shall seem insignificant in your eyes'; [and that I may perfect My grace upon you, and that you may be guided]: [fear Me] because of My having completed the grace of perfection for you and because of My desire for you to be guided I have commanded you to be constantly present and self-examining.
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
(...so 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
(...so 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
(...so that I may complete My blessings on you.)
This Ayah relates to Allah's statement:
لِئَلاَّ يَكُونَ لِلنَّاسِ عَلَيْكُمْ حُجَّةٌ
(...so 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.
2.150 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
From whatever place you issue turn your face towards the Sacred Mosque; and wherever you may be turn your faces towards it so that there be not any argument from the people against you; excepting the evildoers among them; 'If you want there to be no pathway for anyone against you no shadow to fall upon you from any created thing and no hand to reach you with evil then from whatever place you issue ḥaythumā kunta whithersoever you are aynamā kunta and whatever state you are in kayfamā kunta be for Us kun lanā and be from Us wa kun minnā for truly whoever occupies themselves exclusively with Us - nothing can get to them'. [2:150 cont'd] and do not fear them but fear Me; 'When they are effaced from their engendered existence kawn as mortal remains rusūm Our decrees aḥkām flow over them so why should there be fear of themḍ' [2:150 cont'd] and that I may perfect My grace upon you and that you may be guided. The perfection of grace is to add unveiling kashf to kindness luṭf. The one whom He suffices through the exigency of His generosity jūd is below the one whom He enriches by the rightful due ḥaqq of His existence wujūd. Concerning the meaning of this they have recited: We are in the most perfect happiness but only through you is the happiness made complete. The [only] imperfection of what we are in O people of my love is that you are absent while we are present.