قُوۡلُوۡۤا اٰمَنَّا بِاللّٰہِ وَ مَاۤ اُنۡزِلَ اِلَیۡنَا وَ مَاۤ اُنۡزِلَ اِلٰۤی اِبۡرٰہٖمَ وَ اِسۡمٰعِیۡلَ وَ اِسۡحٰقَ وَ یَعۡقُوۡبَ وَ الۡاَسۡبَاطِ وَ مَاۤ اُوۡتِیَ مُوۡسٰی وَ عِیۡسٰی وَ مَاۤ اُوۡتِیَ النَّبِیُّوۡنَ مِنۡ رَّبِّہِمۡ ۚ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَیۡنَ اَحَدٍ مِّنۡہُمۡ ۫ۖ وَ نَحۡنُ لَہٗ مُسۡلِمُوۡنَ ﴿۱۳۷﴾
قُولُوٓاْ ءَامَنَّا بِٱللَّهِ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيۡنَا وَمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَىٰٓ إِبۡرَٰهِـۧمَ وَإِسۡمَٰعِيلَ وَإِسۡحَٰقَ وَيَعۡقُوبَ وَٱلۡأَسۡبَاطِ وَمَآ أُوتِيَ مُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ وَمَآ أُوتِيَ ٱلنَّبِيُّونَ مِن رَّبِّهِمۡ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيۡنَ أَحَدٖ مِّنۡهُمۡ وَنَحۡنُ لَهُۥ مُسۡلِمُونَ
d. 3:85. (close)
153. The word children here refers to the twelve tribes of Israel named after the twelve sons of Jacob—Ruben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher (Gen. 35:23-26:49: 28). (close)
154. It indeed redounds to the great credit of Islam that it is the only religion which recognizes the Prophets of all nations, whereas other religions confine Prophethood to their own respective spheres. Naturally, the Qur’an mentions only the names of those Prophets who were known to the Arabs to whom the Message of Islam was first given; but it makes a general remark to the effect that, there is no people to whom a Warner has not been sent (35:25). The words, "We make no distinction between any of them," mean that a Muslim makes no difference between the different Prophets in respect of their Prophethood. The words should not be construed to mean that all the Prophets are of the same spiritual rank. Such an idea is against 2:254. (close)
a. 2:286; 3:85; 4:153. (close)
a. 3:85. (close)
b. 2:286; 3:85; 4:153. (close)
143. Important Words:
اسباط (children) is derived from سبط. They say سبط الشعر i.e. the hair was or became loose and hanging. سبط المطر means, the rain was copious and extensive. سبط signifies the idea of length and extensiveness. شعر سبط means, hair that is long and not curly. سبط الکفین means, a generous man, literally one possessing long and open hands, because his helping hand extends to every needy person. A grandson is also called سبط (sibt) because his birth signifies increase of progeny. In a still wider sense, the word might signify progeny generally. The expression here refers to the twelve tribes of Israel named after the twelve sons of Jacob: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher (Gen. 35:23-26; 49:28).
The verse is addressed to Muslims who are enjoined to reply to Jews and Christians by saying that the central point in religion is belief in, and submission to, God; and so everything that comes from God must be accepted and it is simply foolish to say that a people believing in some Prophets of God need not believe in others. All Messengers of God and all revelations coming from Him must be accepted and no distinction is to be made between this Prophet and that or between this revelation and that, so far as belief in them is concerned. One Prophet may be higher in status than another and one revelation may be more important than another; but all of them must be accepted without discrimination. The words, to Him we submit ourselves, have been used as an argument in support of the above assertion. When we submit to God, everything coming from Him must be accepted.
It indeed redounds to the great credit of Islam that it is the only religion which recognizes the Prophets of all countries and all nations, whereas other faiths limit prophethood only to their own respective spheres. Naturally the Quran mentions only the names of those Prophets who were known to the Arabs to whom the message of Islam was first given; but it makes a general remark to the effect that, there is no people to whom a warner has not been sent (35:25).
As already pointed out, this verse should not be understood to mean that the Quran regards all Prophets to be equal in rank. In fact, the Quran clearly states that different Prophets possess different ranks, some of them being spiritually higher than others (2:254). The sentence, We make no difference between any of them, thus only means that a Muslim makes no distinction between the different Prophets in respect of their prophethood.
Some Christian critics have objected to the verse under comment and have demanded proof of the prophethood of Ishmael. But what proof is there, it may be asked, of the prophethood of Isaac? If the Bible testifies to the prophethood of Isaac, the Quran testifies to the prophethood of Ishmael. If the testimony of the Quran cannot be accepted as a proof for the prophethood of Ishmael, there is no earthly reason why the testimony of the Bible be accepted as a proof for Isaac’s prophethood. And even the Bible is not without evidence of the fact that God made a number of promises to Abraham about the future greatness of Ishmael and his progeny (see note on 2:130). (close)
فَاِنۡ اٰمَنُوۡا بِمِثۡلِ مَاۤ اٰمَنۡتُمۡ بِہٖ فَقَدِ اہۡتَدَوۡا ۚ وَ اِنۡ تَوَلَّوۡا فَاِنَّمَا ہُمۡ فِیۡ شِقَاقٍ ۚ فَسَیَکۡفِیۡکَہُمُ اللّٰہُ ۚ وَ ہُوَ السَّمِیۡعُ الۡعَلِیۡمُ ﴿۱۳۸﴾ؕ
فَإِنۡ ءَامَنُواْ بِمِثۡلِ مَآ ءَامَنتُم بِهِۦ فَقَدِ ٱهۡتَدَواْۖ وَّإِن تَوَلَّوۡاْ فَإِنَّمَا هُمۡ فِي شِقَاقٖۖ فَسَيَكۡفِيكَهُمُ ٱللَّهُۚ وَهُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلۡعَلِيمُ
b. 3:21. (close)
155. Muslims are here told that if Jews and Christians agree with them in holding that Religion is not an hereditary matter, but consists in accepting all revealed guidance, then there is no basic difference between them, otherwise their ways stand apart and a wide gulf separates them, responsibility for the schism and the resulting hostility in this case lying with Jews and Christians and not with Muslims. (close)
a. 3:21. (close)
144. Important Words:
شقاق (schism) is from شاق which is from شق meaning, he split up a thing, or he tore it up. شق عصا القوم means, he created a split or schism in the community which before stood united. شق النبت means, the vegetation sprouted forth from the earth. الشقmeans, one side as opposed to another. شاقه means, he opposed him and became hostile to him so that each sided with a different party. شقاق means, opposition.; hostility; schism; being mutually remote (Aqrab). The word شقاق however, is not used about the party which sides with the truth (Muhit).
Muslims are here told that if Jews and Christians come to agree with them in holding that religion is not an hereditary matter, but consists in accepting all revealed guidance, then they are one with them; otherwise, their ways stand apart and a wide gulf separates them, responsibility for the schism and the resulting hostility in this case lying with Jews and Christians and not with the Muslims.
In this case, however, Muslims should not be afraid of Jews or Christians; for God is on their side and the God of Islam is All-Hearing and All-Knowing. If they pray to Him for protection, He will answer their prayers and even if there comes a time when they cannot pray, He will protect them; for He is not only All-Hearing but is also All-Knowing. The verse also refers to the special and personal divineprotection promised to the Holy Prophet (5:68) in view of the repeated attempts made by the Jews upon his life. (close)
صِبۡغَۃَ اللّٰہِ ۚ وَ مَنۡ اَحۡسَنُ مِنَ اللّٰہِ صِبۡغَۃً ۫ وَّ نَحۡنُ لَہٗ عٰبِدُوۡنَ ﴿۱۳۹﴾
صِبۡغَةَ ٱللَّهِ وَمَنۡ أَحۡسَنُ مِنَ ٱللَّهِ صِبۡغَةٗۖ وَنَحۡنُ لَهُۥ عَٰبِدُونَ
156. Sibghah means, dye or colour; kind or mode or nature of a thing; religion; code of laws; baptism. Sibghatullah signifies God’s religion; the nature with which God has endowed men (Aqrab). Religion is so called because it colours a man like a dye or colour. Sibghah is used here as an object of a verb which is understood. According to Arabic Grammar, sometimes when it is intended strongly to induce a person to do a certain thing, the verb is omitted and only the object is mentioned. Therefore, words like Na’khudhu (we have adopted) or Nattabi‘u (we have followed) will be taken as understood, and the clause would mean, "we have adopted or we have followed the religion which God wishes us to adopt or follow." (close)
145. Important Words:
صبغة (religion) is derived from صبغ. They say صبغه i.e. he dyed or coloured it. صبغ یده فی الماء means, he immersed his hand in the water. صبغ یده بالعمل means, he laboured in work and became notable therein. اصطبغ بکذا means, he became dyed or coloured with it. صبغة means, dye or colour; kind or mode of a thing; religion; code of laws; baptism. صبغة الله means, God’s religion; the nature with which God has endowed men (Aqrab). Religion is called صبغة because it covers a man like a dye or colour.
In the verse the word صبغة (religion) is used as an object, the subject of which is understood. According to the rules of Arabic grammar, sometimes when it is intended strongly to induce a person to do a certain thing, the verb is omitted and only the object is mentioned. Therefore words like خذوا (adopt) or اتبعوا (follow) will be taken to be understood before the words صبغة الله and the clause would mean, "adopt or follow the religion which God wishes you to adopt or follow". This indeed is the true baptism which can make one acquire God’s attributes and become His living manifestation. Compare with it the Christian baptism which seeks to procure for a man forgiveness of sins and everlasting life by the mere act of immersing him in water or sprinkling it on him at his christening ceremony. (close)
قُلۡ اَتُحَآجُّوۡنَنَا فِی اللّٰہِ وَ ہُوَ رَبُّنَا وَ رَبُّکُمۡ ۚ وَ لَنَاۤ اَعۡمَالُنَا وَ لَکُمۡ اَعۡمَالُکُمۡ ۚ وَ نَحۡنُ لَہٗ مُخۡلِصُوۡنَ ﴿۱۴۰﴾ۙ
قُلۡ أَتُحَآجُّونَنَا فِي ٱللَّهِ وَهُوَ رَبُّنَا وَرَبُّكُمۡ وَلَنَآ أَعۡمَٰلُنَا وَلَكُمۡ أَعۡمَٰلُكُمۡ وَنَحۡنُ لَهُۥ مُخۡلِصُونَ
a. 28:56; 42:16; 109:7. (close)
a. 28:56; 42:16; 109:7. (close)
146. Important Words:
مخلصون (sincerely devoted) is derived from خلص which means, he or it became pure. اخلص فی الطاعة means, he was or became sincere in obedience. اخلص له الحب means, he was sincere in his love for him, lit. he made his love true for him (Aqrab). اخلص للهmeans, he was sincere to God or he was sincere in his connection with Him (Lane & Mufradat)
The Holy Prophet is here commanded to say to the People of the Book that it is God Who has sent His revelation to him and that they should not dispute God’s choice, because He is as much the God of the Muslims as He is theirs, and He knows the works of both. He is the Creator of all and His grace is not confined to any one tribe or country. So, if God has now selected an Ishmaelite for the office of prophethood and has chosen the Arabs for His grace, they should not reject him on that account. The central point of faith is the person of God, and if one is sincere in his connection with Him, there should be no hesitation in accepting anything that emanates from Him. The real question is, whether God has indeed chosen Muhammad to be His Messenger. If that question is answered in the affirmative, nothing should stop a man from accepting Islam; and if he rejects Islam, he ranges himself against God, be he a Jew, a Christian, a Hindu or any other. (close)
اَمۡ تَقُوۡلُوۡنَ اِنَّ اِبۡرٰہٖمَ وَ اِسۡمٰعِیۡلَ وَ اِسۡحٰقَ وَ یَعۡقُوۡبَ وَ الۡاَسۡبَاطَ کَانُوۡا ہُوۡدًا اَوۡ نَصٰرٰی ؕ قُلۡ ءَاَنۡتُمۡ اَعۡلَمُ اَمِ اللّٰہُ ؕ وَ مَنۡ اَظۡلَمُ مِمَّنۡ کَتَمَ شَہَادَۃً عِنۡدَہٗ مِنَ اللّٰہِ ؕ وَ مَا اللّٰہُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا تَعۡمَلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۴۱﴾
أَمۡ تَقُولُونَ إِنَّ إِبۡرَٰهِـۧمَ وَإِسۡمَٰعِيلَ وَإِسۡحَٰقَ وَيَعۡقُوبَ وَٱلۡأَسۡبَاطَ كَانُواْ هُودًا أَوۡ نَصَٰرَىٰۗ قُلۡ ءَأَنتُمۡ أَعۡلَمُ أَمِ ٱللَّهُۗ وَمَنۡ أَظۡلَمُ مِمَّن كَتَمَ شَهَٰدَةً عِندَهُۥ مِنَ ٱللَّهِۗ وَمَا ٱللَّهُ بِغَٰفِلٍ عَمَّا تَعۡمَلُونَ
b. 3:85; 4:164. (close)
157. Jews and Christians have been indirectly told how Abraham and his children would fare, when as claimed by them salvation is their exclusive monopoly, because they belonged to pre-Mosaic period when Jewish and Christian religions had not yet come into existence. (close)
c. 2:284. (close)
a. 3:85; 4:164. (close)
b. 2:284. (close)
In this verse Jews and Christians have been indirectly asked how Abraham and his children would fare, if salvation were monopolized by them. If they replied that these holy persons were also Jews or Christians, it would be against all the facts of history, because they belonged to pre-Mosaic times when Jewish and Christian religions had not yet come into existence.
Some short-sighted persons attach so much importance to their own views that they begin to ascribe them to every righteous servant of God. In their discussions, Jews and Christians represented even those of their ancestors who lived before their religions came into existence as the followers of their own faiths.
This is the attitude not only of the ignorant masses, but even educated people sometimes fall a prey to this delusion. Many Christians of great learning hold the untenable belief that even those Prophets and other righteous people who lived before Jesus were saved through his alleged death on the cross. Such men should beware of God’s judgement, as He is not unaware of their deeds. (close)
تِلۡکَ اُمَّۃٌ قَدۡ خَلَتۡ ۚ لَہَا مَا کَسَبَتۡ وَ لَکُمۡ مَّا کَسَبۡتُمۡ ۚ وَ لَا تُسۡـَٔلُوۡنَ عَمَّا کَانُوۡا یَعۡمَلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۴۲﴾٪
تِلۡكَ أُمَّةٞ قَدۡ خَلَتۡۖ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتۡ وَلَكُم مَّا كَسَبۡتُمۡۖ وَلَا تُسۡـَٔلُونَ عَمَّا كَانُواْ يَعۡمَلُونَ
d. 2:135. (close)
158. Jews and Christians are again warned that their being the descendants of God’s Prophets would do them no good. They will have to carry their own cross, because no one shall bear the burden of another (6:165). (close)
c. See 2:135. (close)
Jews and Christians are once more warned against relying upon those of their forefathers who won the pleasure of God by their good deeds. It is their own deeds and not those of others that will save them. Their own good actions alone can bring them salvation and not the fact that they are the descendants or followers of Abraham, Jacob, Moses or Jesus. No bearer of burden shall bear the burden of another, says the Quran (6:165). (close)
سَیَقُوۡلُ السُّفَہَآءُ مِنَ النَّاسِ مَا وَلّٰٮہُمۡ عَنۡ قِبۡلَتِہِمُ الَّتِیۡ کَانُوۡا عَلَیۡہَا ؕ قُلۡ لِّلّٰہِ الۡمَشۡرِقُ وَ الۡمَغۡرِبُ ؕ یَہۡدِیۡ مَنۡ یَّشَآءُ اِلٰی صِرَاطٍ مُّسۡتَقِیۡمٍ ﴿۱۴۳﴾
۞سَيَقُولُ ٱلسُّفَهَآءُ مِنَ ٱلنَّاسِ مَا وَلَّىٰهُمۡ عَن قِبۡلَتِهِمُ ٱلَّتِي كَانُواْ عَلَيۡهَاۚ قُل لِّلَّهِ ٱلۡمَشۡرِقُ وَٱلۡمَغۡرِبُۚ يَهۡدِي مَن يَشَآءُ إِلَىٰ صِرَٰطٖ مُّسۡتَقِيمٖ
a. See 2:116. (close)
159. In the foregoing several verses a pointed reference was made to the fact that in pursuance of a Divine plan the Patriarch Abraham had settled his wife Hagar and son Ishmael in the bleak and barren Valley of Mecca. When Ishmael grew up, Abraham rebuilt the Ka‘bah with his assistance and while rebuilding it prayed to God to raise among the Arabs a great Prophet, who should be humanity’s Guide and Leader for all time. When, however, in the fulness of time that great Prophet appeared, God’s eternal plan came into operation and the Ka‘bah was made the Qiblah for the whole of mankind. But while at Mecca, the Holy Prophet, in conformity with his old practice and also by Divine command, turned his face in Prayer to the Temple at Jerusalem which was the Qiblah of the Israelite Prophets. In Medina also he kept facing towards Jerusalem. But after a few months he was commanded by Divine revelation to turn his face towards the Ka‘bah. This was objected to by the Jews. The verse under comment furnishes a reply to their objections and also sheds some light on the inwardness of the command for the change of the direction of the Qiblah. But the Qur’an never abruptly gives any new commandment. It invariably begins by preparing the ground for its acceptance by giving arguments in its favour and anticipates and answers objections that are likely to arise against it. As the commandment regarding the change of the Qiblah was likely to disturb the mental poise of some people, so in this verse the ground is being prepared by making a general observation to the effect that the selection of a particular direction for worship does not really matter. What matters is the spirit of obedience to God and of unity among the Faithful. The clause, To Allah belong the East and the West, signifies that the selection of the East or the West is not of much importance, and because the real object is God only, the adoption of a particular direction is primarily meant for the purpose of creating a sense of unity. The verse also implies that some day the Ka‘bah will fall into the possession of the Muslims. (close)
a. See 2:116. (close)
149. Important Words:
قبلتھم (their Qiblah). The word قبلة is derived from قبل. They say قبل علی الشیء i.e. he began the thing and stuck to it. قبل المکانmeans, he came facing the house. اقبل علیه means, he advanced facing him. اقبل فلانا الشیء means, he put the thing before such a one or in front of him. قبلة means: (1) direction.; (2) direction to which a man turns while praying; (3) anything which one faces; (4) the Ka‘bah at Mecca to which Muslims turn their faces when praying (Aqrab).
In the preceding verses the Quran spoke of the people that have gone before, at the same time hinting at the difference between their deeds and those of the Muslims. In the present verse it introduces a subject in which the Muslims differ from other People of the Book, i.e. the subject of قبلة (Qiblah).
It is a usual practice with the Quran that it does not abruptly give any new commandment such as might appear hard to men. It generally begins by preparing the ground for the acceptance of such commandment by giving arguments in its favour and answering some objections that might possibly arise against it. See also 2:184, 185.
Similar is the case here. As the commandment regarding the change of Qiblah was likely to prove a stumbling block for some people, so the ground is prepared by making a general observation to the effect that the selection of a particular direction does not really matter. What matters is the spirit of obedience to God on the one hand and unity among the Faithful on the other. The clause, To Allah belong the East and the West, signifies that the selection of the East or the West is not of much importance, the real object being God only. The selection of a particular direction is primarily meant for the purpose of unity among the Faithful. But the direction must also be good, and God was now going to choose a good direction for the Muslims and the objections of the people would prove their own folly. (close)
وَ کَذٰلِکَ جَعَلۡنٰکُمۡ اُمَّۃً وَّسَطًا لِّتَکُوۡنُوۡا شُہَدَآءَ عَلَی النَّاسِ وَ یَکُوۡنَ الرَّسُوۡلُ عَلَیۡکُمۡ شَہِیۡدًا ؕ وَ مَا جَعَلۡنَا الۡقِبۡلَۃَ الَّتِیۡ کُنۡتَ عَلَیۡہَاۤ اِلَّا لِنَعۡلَمَ مَنۡ یَّتَّبِعُ الرَّسُوۡلَ مِمَّنۡ یَّنۡقَلِبُ عَلٰی عَقِبَیۡہِ ؕ وَ اِنۡ کَانَتۡ لَکَبِیۡرَۃً اِلَّا عَلَی الَّذِیۡنَ ہَدَی اللّٰہُ ؕ وَ مَا کَانَ اللّٰہُ لِیُضِیۡعَ اِیۡمَانَکُمۡ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ بِالنَّاسِ لَرَءُوۡفٌ رَّحِیۡمٌ ﴿۱۴۴﴾
وَكَذَٰلِكَ جَعَلۡنَٰكُمۡ أُمَّةٗ وَسَطٗا لِّتَكُونُواْ شُهَدَآءَ عَلَى ٱلنَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ ٱلرَّسُولُ عَلَيۡكُمۡ شَهِيدٗاۗ وَمَا جَعَلۡنَا ٱلۡقِبۡلَةَ ٱلَّتِي كُنتَ عَلَيۡهَآ إِلَّا لِنَعۡلَمَ مَن يَتَّبِعُ ٱلرَّسُولَ مِمَّن يَنقَلِبُ عَلَىٰ عَقِبَيۡهِۚ وَإِن كَانَتۡ لَكَبِيرَةً إِلَّا عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ هَدَى ٱللَّهُۗ وَمَا كَانَ ٱللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَٰنَكُمۡۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ بِٱلنَّاسِ لَرَءُوفٞ رَّحِيمٞ
b. 3:111. (close)
160. Al-Wasat means, occupying the middle position; good and exalted in rank (Aqrab). The word is used here in the sense of good and exalted. In 3:111 also Muslims have been called the best people. (close)
c. 22:79. (close)
161. Muslims are here told that each generation of theirs should guard and watch over the next generation. Being the best people, it is incumbent upon them to be always on their guard against falling away from the high standard of life expected of them, and to see that each succeeding generation also follows the path pursued by those who enjoyed the ennobling company of the Holy Prophet. Thus, the Holy Prophet was to be a guardian over his immediate followers, while they in turn were to be guardians over their successors, and so on. The words may also mean that, as decreed, Muslims are to become the leaders of men and by their good deeds are to become recipients of God’s special favours, and thus other people will be forced to the conclusion that they follow a true religion. In this way they (Muslims) will bear witness to the truth of Islam for other people, just as the Holy Prophet was a witness of its truth for them. (close)
162. It appears from these words that the Holy Prophet had adopted the Temple at Jerusalem as his Qiblah by God’s command; but as it was meant by God to be only a temporary Qiblah and was to be subsequently replaced by the Ka‘bah which was to be the Qiblah for all mankind for all times, the command with regard to the temporary Qiblah was not included in the Qur’an. This shows that all such commandments as possessed temporary application were not included in the Quranic revelation; only those of a permanent nature were included in it. The theory that the Qur’an contains some verses that now stand abrogated is quite unfounded. (close)
163. The Arabs were greatly attached to the Ka‘bah, the ancient house of worship at Mecca. It was their national Temple which had come down to them from the days of Abraham. It, therefore, proved a severe trial for them when they were asked at the very inception of Islam to abandon it in favour of the Temple at Jerusalem which was the Qiblah of the People of the Book (Bukhari & Jarir). And later on at Medina the change of the Qiblah from the Temple at Jerusalem to the Ka‘bah proved a great trial for both Jews and Christians. Thus the change proved a trial for both the "People of the Book" and the Muslims and also for the Meccan idolaters. (close)
a. 3:111. (close)
b. 22:79. (close)
150. Important Words:
وسطا (exalted) is derived from وسط meaning, he stood in between two things. وسط فی حسبه (wasata) or وسط (wasuta) means, he was or became good and noble. الوسط means: (1) occupying the middle position or taking the middle course; (2) good and exalted in rank (Aqrab). That the word وسط is used here in the sense of good and exalted, is clear from 3:111 where Muslims are called the best people.
لنعلم (that We might know) signifies that We may make known or distinguish. In fact, God being Omniscient knows all things; so He does not stand in need of knowing a thing because everything is already known to Him. The word has been used elsewhere also in this sense (33:51). The expression ممن (from him who) occurring after it also shows that the word is used here in the sense of distinguishing or making known to the people.
The clause, and thus have We made you an exalted nation, refers to, and is connected with, the concluding clause of the preceding verse, i.e. He guides whom He pleases to the right path. God means to say that whatever guidance He sends down to the Muslims is for their own good and it is through His guidance that they have been made an exalted nation. So in the matter of the Qiblah, too, they should be prepared to accept His guidance which is meant for their own good. This will make them "guardians over men" and the Messenger of God a "guardian over the Muslims".
Muslims are told that, as decreed by God, they are to become the leaders of men and win the pleasure of God by their good deeds and that on that account they will naturally become recipients of God’s special favours, with the result that other people will be forced to the conclusion that the religion which they follow is the true religion. In this way will Muslims bear witness to the truth of Islam, just as the Holy Prophet was a witness of its truth for them.
Another meaning of the clause, that you may be guardians over men, is that each generation of Muslims should guard and watch over the next generation. Being the best of people, it is incumbent upon them to be always on their guard against falling away from the high standard of life expected of them, and to see that each succeeding generation also follows the path pursued by those who enjoyed the ennobling company of the Holy Prophet. Thus the Holy Prophet was to be a guardian over his immediate followers, while they in turn were to be guardians over their successors, and so on.
Taking the particle علی (over) in the clause under discussion to mean "against" and the word شھید (guardian) to mean "witness", which it often does, the clause would mean "that you may be witnesses against men and the Holy Prophet may be a witness against you"; i.e., the Holy Prophet would serve as a mirror for the Muslims by looking into which they would be able to see their own shortcomings, while the lives of true Muslims would serve as a model for other people who, by comparing their lives with those of true Muslims, would see and realize their own defects and correct them accordingly. This state of affairs could be brought about only if Muslims faithfully followed all the behests of God including the one regarding Qiblah, which was important as a rallying-point for the new community.
It may be noted here that, as hinted in the words, and We did not appoint the Qiblah which thou didst follow, the Holy Prophet had adopted the Temple at Jerusalem as his Qiblah by God’s command; but as it was meant by God to be only a temporary Qiblah, and was to be subsequently replaced by the Ka‘bah which was to be the Islamic Qiblah for all time, the command with regard to the temporary Qiblah was not included in the Quran. This shows that all such commandments as possessed temporary application were not included in the Quran; only those were included which were of a permanent nature. Hence the theory that the Quran contains some verses that now stand abrogated is quite unfounded.
The Arabs were greatly attached to the Ka‘bah, the ancient house of worship at Mecca. It was their national Temple which had come down to them from the days of Abraham. It, therefore, proved a severe trial for them when they were asked at the very inception of Islam at Mecca to abandon the Ka‘bah in favour of the Temple at Jerusalem which was the Qiblah of the People of the Book. And later on at Medina, the change of the Qiblah from the Temple at Jerusalem to the Ka‘bah proved a great trial for both Jews and Christians. It was very hard for them to abandon their Qiblah for a rival temple which had been held sacred by the pagan Arabs. Thus God provided a trial for both the People of the Book and the idolaters of Mecca.
The Temple of Solomon at Jerusalem was not adopted as Qiblah by the Holy Prophet to conciliate the Jewish population of Medina, as is wrongly supposed by Sale and other Christian critics, because it was not at Medina that this Temple was adopted as the Qiblah. It had already been the Qiblah of the Muslims at Mecca where there was no Jewish or Christian population to placate (Bukhari & Jarir). If, by appointing a Qiblah, the Holy Prophet had intended to win over a people, the natural course would have been to appoint the Ka‘bah as a Qiblah while at Mecca and turn round to the Temple of Jerusalem while at Medina. But what actually happened was quite the reverse. Moreover, the Quran expressly says that the adoption of neither of the Qiblahs was meant to win over any people to Islam, but was intended only as a trial to distinguish the true believers from those not true.
The words it does not behove Allah to let your faith go in vain have a twofold meaning: (1) that this change of Qiblah is in no way calculated adversely to affect the faith of Muslims but would actually strengthen it; (2) that if Muslims were not directed to turn to the Ka‘bah, they would not inherit the blessings resulting from the prayers of Abraham offered at the time of its building (2:130). It was impossible that the Companions of the Holy Prophet who had displayed such steadfast loyalty and devotion to their noble ideals, should not have been made heirs to the blessings contained in Abraham’s prayers with which the Promised Prophet was to be so closely associated. The faith of Muslims would, as it were, go in vain if they remained detached from the Ka‘bah and did not inherit its blessings. (close)
قَدۡ نَرٰی تَقَلُّبَ وَجۡہِکَ فِی السَّمَآءِ ۚ فَلَنُوَلِّیَنَّکَ قِبۡلَۃً تَرۡضٰہَا ۪ فَوَلِّ وَجۡہَکَ شَطۡرَ الۡمَسۡجِدِ الۡحَرَامِ ؕ وَ حَیۡثُ مَا کُنۡتُمۡ فَوَلُّوۡا وُجُوۡہَکُمۡ شَطۡرَہٗ ؕ وَ اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ اُوۡتُوا الۡکِتٰبَ لَیَعۡلَمُوۡنَ اَنَّہُ الۡحَقُّ مِنۡ رَّبِّہِمۡ ؕ وَ مَا اللّٰہُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا یَعۡمَلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۴۵﴾
قَدۡ نَرَىٰ تَقَلُّبَ وَجۡهِكَ فِي ٱلسَّمَآءِۖ فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبۡلَةٗ تَرۡضَىٰهَاۚ فَوَلِّ وَجۡهَكَ شَطۡرَ ٱلۡمَسۡجِدِ ٱلۡحَرَامِۚ وَحَيۡثُ مَا كُنتُمۡ فَوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمۡ شَطۡرَهُۥۗ وَإِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ ٱلۡكِتَٰبَ لَيَعۡلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ ٱلۡحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمۡۗ وَمَا ٱللَّهُ بِغَٰفِلٍ عَمَّا يَعۡمَلُونَ
164. While at Mecca, the Holy Prophet under Divine command turned his face in Prayers towards the Temple at Jerusalem. But, as in his heart of hearts, he desired the Ka‘bah to be his Qiblah and he also had a sort of intuition that eventually his wish will be satisfied, he generally chose such a place for worship where he could keep both the sacred Temple at Jerusalem and the Ka‘bah before him. When, however, he emigrated to Medina, in view of the position of the town, he could only face towards the Temple at Jerusalem. With the change of the Qiblah his inner desire naturally became intensified, and though, out of deference to God’s command, he did not actually pray for the change, yet he anxiously and eagerly looked towards heaven for a command to that effect. (close)
165. Nuwalliyannaka also means, "We will make thee master and guardian." The expression embodied a double prophecy, viz. that eventually the Ka‘bah will become the Qiblah of all peoples and that its possession will also pass over to the Holy Prophet. (close)
a. 2:150, 151. (close)
166. The words signify that though in ordinary circumstances, the Muslims are enjoined to turn their faces to the Ka‘bah when saying their Prayers, yet direction is of secondary importance. The change was intended to bring about and maintain unity and uniformity in the Muslim brotherhood. (close)
167. See Gen. 21:21; John 4:21. Isa. 45:13, 14, & Deut. 32:2. (close)
151. Important Words:
قد (verily) means, already; sometimes; often; verily, etc. (Lane).
تقلب (turning) is derived from قلب. They say قلب الشیء i.e. (1) he made the thing change direction; (2) he turned it about so that its face and back changed directions; (3) he turned it upside down; (4) he turned it inside out; (5) he changed its condition. The word قلب (qallaba) gives almost the same meaning but with greater intensification. تقلب الشیء means, the thing turned over and over, doing so much and repeatedly (Aqrab). The expression تقلب وجھك would therefore mean, turning thy face with eagerness and anxiety to receive an order.
فلنولینك (We will make thee turn) is derived from ولی (walla) which again is derived from ولی (waliya). The expression ولاهgives two distinct meanings: (1) he made him ruler or master or guardian of it; (2) he made it change direction or he made it turn towards a thing or away from it as the case may be (Aqrab).
الحرام (Sacred) is derived from حرم which means, it was or became forbidden, prohibited or unlawful whether from sanctity or owing to its being injurious. حرمه الشیء means, he denied or refused him the thing. Thus
حرام means: (1) forbidden and unlawful; (2) sacred and inviolable (Aqrab). المسجدالحرام signifies, the Sacred Mosque at Mecca, i.e. the Ka‘bah.
While at Mecca, the Holy Prophet had orders to turn his face in Prayers towards the sacred Temple at Jerusalem. The Prophet, of course, obeyed the divine behest; but, as in his heart of hearts he desired the Ka‘bah to be his Qiblah and had a sort of intuition that eventually he would be ordered to turn his face towards it, he generally tried to choose such a place for worship where he could keep both the sacred Temple at Jerusalem and the Sacred Mosque of Mecca before him. When, however, the Holy Prophet migrated to Medina, it became impossible for him to turn his face to both the places at one and the same time, and in compliance with divine command he was forced to turn his face to the Temple at Jerusalem alone. With this change the inner desire of the Holy Prophet naturally became intensified, and though, out of deference to God’s command, he did not actually pray for the change, yet he anxiously and eagerly looked towards heaven for an order to that effect. The clause, verily We see thee turning thy face often to heaven, is therefore highly eulogistic of the Prophet, inasmuch as it indicates (1) that the Holy Prophet had such great insight into spiritual matters that in spite of the interim command from God he knew that sooner or later the order for turning the face towards the Ka‘bah would come; (2) that despite his great desire that the Ka‘bah should be appointed as Qiblah, the Holy Prophet had such extraordinary respect for his Lord’s command that he refrained from even praying to that effect; (3) that God the Almighty had such great love for His Messenger that He most graciously refers to his turning his face towards heaven and expedites the command about the change of Qiblah, lovingly adding, We will make thee turn to the Qiblah which thou likest; and (4) that God had such great regard for the wish of the Prophet that He not only ordered him to turn his face towards the Qiblah of his liking but at the same time hinted that He would soon make him master and guardian of it; for, as explained under Important Words, the expression نولینك also means, "We will make thee master or guardian". Truly did ‘A’ishah say to her illustrious husband, "I see that God hastens to fulfil your wishes" (Bukhari, ch. on Tafsir).
After the above introduction follows the commandment about the change of Qiblah in the words, So turn thy face towards the Sacred Mosque; and wherever you be, turn your faces towards it. This commandment was given after the Holy Prophet had migrated to Medina and had stayed there for about sixteen months. The words "Sacred Mosque" do not merely stand for the Ka‘bah but also provide an argument in favour of the change ordered. The Mosque was sacred and full of blessings and would prove a sanctuary for the faithful. The words, wherever you be, turn your faces towards it, have been added with a threefold purpose: (1) to make it clear that the order was not meant for the people of Medinaonly but for all Muslims wherever they might be; (2) to point to the fact that one of the reasons underlying the order relating to the Qiblah was to bring about unity and uniformity among all Muslims, wherever they might be; and (3) to hint that the commandment did not apply to the Holy Prophet only but extended to all Muslims, for whereas, in the preceding clause the Quran says, turn thy face, in the clause under comment it says, turn your faces.
The words, They to whom the Book has been given know that this is the truth from their Lord, mean that Jews and Christians were convinced on the basis of prophecies found in their Scriptures having special reference to the Ka‘bah and the Holy Prophet (Isa. 45:13, 14; John 4:21; Deut. 33:2; Gen. 21:21), that the commandment about the change of the Qiblah from the Temple at Jerusalem to the Ka‘bah at Mecca was truly from God. Mecca lies in what is known as the Desert of Faran or Paran mentioned in some of the above-mentioned verses of the Bible, and therefore the Jews knew that the prophecies contained in them applied to the Ka‘bah and the Holy Prophet.
It may be noted here that, though in ordinary circumstances, the Muslims are enjoined to turn their faces to the Ka‘bah when saying their prayers, yet as direction is of secondary importance, Islam ordains that, if in special circumstances, it becomes difficult for a man to turn his face to the Ka‘bah or to keep it so turned, he can say his Prayers in any direction that may be convenient. For instance, when a man does not know in which direction the Ka‘bah lies, while travelling at night in a Railway train or on the back of an animal, etc., he can pray facing any direction. Similarly, a sick man lying in bed may pray in a lying posture facing any direction that he may find convenient. (close)
وَ لَئِنۡ اَتَیۡتَ الَّذِیۡنَ اُوۡتُوا الۡکِتٰبَ بِکُلِّ اٰیَۃٍ مَّا تَبِعُوۡا قِبۡلَتَکَ ۚ وَ مَاۤ اَنۡتَ بِتَابِعٍ قِبۡلَتَہُمۡ ۚ وَ مَا بَعۡضُہُمۡ بِتَابِعٍ قِبۡلَۃَ بَعۡضٍ ؕ وَ لَئِنِ اتَّبَعۡتَ اَہۡوَآءَہُمۡ مِّنۡۢ بَعۡدِ مَا جَآءَکَ مِنَ الۡعِلۡمِ ۙ اِنَّکَ اِذًا لَّمِنَ الظّٰلِمِیۡنَ ﴿۱۴۶﴾ۘ
وَلَئِنۡ أَتَيۡتَ ٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ ٱلۡكِتَٰبَ بِكُلِّ ءَايَةٖ مَّا تَبِعُواْ قِبۡلَتَكَۚ وَمَآ أَنتَ بِتَابِعٖ قِبۡلَتَهُمۡۚ وَمَا بَعۡضُهُم بِتَابِعٖ قِبۡلَةَ بَعۡضٖۚ وَلَئِنِ ٱتَّبَعۡتَ أَهۡوَآءَهُم مِّنۢ بَعۡدِ مَا جَآءَكَ مِنَ ٱلۡعِلۡمِ إِنَّكَ إِذٗا لَّمِنَ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ
a. 109:3, 7. (close)
168. This verse points to the hostility of Jews and Christians not only to Islam but also to one another. The Jews had Jerusalem as their Qiblah (Kings 8:22-30; Dan. 6:10; Ps. 5:7 & Jonah, 2:4), while the Samaritans, a disowned section of the Jews, who also followed the Mosaic Law, had adopted a certain mountain in Palestine, named Gerizim, as their Qiblah (Commentary on the New Testament by W. Walsham How, D.D.). The early Christians, followed the Qiblah of the Jews (Enc. Brit., 14th edition, v. 676 & Jew. Enc. vi. 53). The Christians of Najran worshipped in the Holy Prophet’s Mosque at Medina, with their faces turned to the East (Zurqani, iv. 41). Thus the Jews, the Samaritans, and the Christians followed different Qiblahs owing to their mutual jealousy and enmity. In these circumstances it was vain to expect them to follow the Qiblah of the Muslims. (close)
b. 6:57; 13:38. (close)
b. 6:57; 13:38. (close)
This verse points to the hostility of Jews and Christians not only to Islam but also to one another. The Jews had Jerusalem as their Qiblah (See I. Kings 8:22-30; Dan. 6:10; Ps. 5:7; Jonah, 2:4) while the Samaritans, a disowned section of the Jews, who also followed the Mosaic Law, had adopted a certain mountain in Palestine, named Gerizim, as their Qiblah (John, 4:20 and Commentary on the New Testament by Right Rev. W. Walsham How, D.D., published by Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London, under this verse). As regards the early Christians, they followed the Qiblahof the Jews (Acts 3:1; Enc. Brit., 14th edition, v. 676; Jew. Enc. vi. 53) but we learn from authentic sources that when a party of the Christians of Najran paid a visit to Medina to have a discussion with the Holy Prophet on some doctrinal point, they worshipped in the Holy Prophet’s mosque at Medina with their faces turned to the East (Zurqani, iv. 41). Thus the Jews, the Samaritans, and the Christians followed different Qiblahs owing to their mutual jealousy and enmity. In these circumstances it was vain to expect them to follow the Qiblah of the Muslims, and when obsolete faiths refused to follow the true Qiblah, how could a true believer follow a Qiblah that had become obsolete.
The concluding clause speaks of the practice of the People of the Book as vain "desires," not because they were not originally based on revelation but because they were opposed to the new revelation that had appointed the Ka‘bah as Qiblah. He who insists on sticking to an order that is no longer in force, really follows naught but his own desire.
The words, then thou shalt surely be of the transgressors, do not evidently refer to the Holy Prophet, because, (1) he could in no circumstances go against Allah’s commandment, and (2) the foregoing part of this very verse says about him, nor wouldst thou follow their Qiblah, and (3) it is clearly stated in the preceding verse that he loved to turn his face towards the Ka‘bah and eagerly awaited a divinecommandment to that effect. It is, therefore, unthinkable that the Prophet could forsake the Qiblah of his own liking. The words obviously refer, as supported by the rules of the Arabic language as well as the usage of the Quran, either to the reader in general or to every individual Muslim who followed the Holy Prophet. (close)