The Change of Qiblah in the Quran


Many  scholars claim that Muhammad issued religious teachings outside  the Quranic revelation. One passage they use to justify such a claim is  in  2:143:

“ … We did not make the Qiblah that you were on  only to distinguish  those among you who readily follow the messenger  from those who would  turn back on their heels”.

The  scholars use this passage to say that Muhammad received some  external  divine inspiration to ‘change’ the original Qiblah and this  inspiration  is NOT mentioned in the Quran.

Hence, these scholars  believe it is ‘okay’ to follow external sources  besides the Quran.The  purpose of this article is to clarify this  misconception and to  understand the relevant passages from a Quran Alone  scope. Let’s take a  look at the passage in its entirety:

[2:142] The  fools among the people would say, “Why did they change  the
direction of  their Qiblah [focal point]?” Say, “To GOD belongs the  east and
the  west; He guides whoever wills in a straight path.”

[2:143]  We thus made you an impartial community, that you may serve  as  witnesses among the people, and the messenger serves as a witness  among  you.
We did not make the Qiblah that you were on only to  distinguish  those among you who readily follow the messenger from those  who would  turn back on their heels. It was a difficult test, but not for  those  who are guided by GOD. GOD never puts your worship to waste. GOD  is  Compassionate towards the people, Most Merciful.

[2:144]  We have seen you turning your face about the sky (searching  for the  right direction). We now assign a Qiblah that is pleasing to  you.  Henceforth, you shall turn your face towards the Sacred Masjid.   Wherever you may be, all of you shall turn your faces towards it. Those   who received the previous
scripture know that this is the truth from   their Lord. GOD is never unaware of anything they do.

[2:145]  Even if you show the followers of the scripture every kind of  miracle,  they will not follow your Qiblah. Nor shall you follow their  Qiblah.  They do not even follow each others’ Qiblah. If you acquiesce to  their  wishes, after the knowledge that has come to you, you will belong  with  the transgressors.

This passage of the Quran teaches us the following:

FIRST
Qiblah  is simply a focal point in which we face during Salat (contact
Prayer). In 2:145 we learn that during the time of Muhammad there   existed
MULTIPLE Qiblahs and not just one or two. This is evident by the   words in
2:145 ‘they will not follow your Qiblah… Nor shall you follow   their Qiblah..
They do not even follow each other’s Qiblah..’ .

SECOND
Many  scholars are under the impression that Muhammad’s ‘original’  Qiblah  was
Mecca, then Muhammad was ordered (by God) to change the  Qiblah to  Jerusalem,
then ordered (by God) again back to Mecca. This  means,  according to these
scholars, Muhammad was ordered by God to  change the  Qiblah TWO TIMES. However,
this idea is absolutely fallacious  because  it stems from the books of Hadith
and NOT from the Quran.

THIRD
We  learn from Quran that Muhammad was once facing a qiblah (let’s  call it
‘unknown qiblah’ since the Quran doesn’t specify) (2:142) and  then was
commanded by God to face the Sacred Masjid (2:144). This means  that,  according
to the Quran, the change of Qiblah happened ONLY ONCE  and NOT  twice as
commonly preached by Islamic scholars.

FOURTH
With  the above Qurnic facts in mind, In 2:143 we learn that the  change from
the unknown qiblah to the Sacred Masjid was to see whether  the  followers of
Muhammad would obey him in this revelational  inspiration  or not: “We did not
make the Qiblah that you were on only to   distinguish those among you who
readily follow the messenger from those   who would turn back on their heels.”
(2:143).  This verse, by no means,   implies or hints that Muhammad was to issue
religious laws NOT decreed   by God.

FIFTH
We also  learn that Muhammad’s ‘unknown qiblah’ was NOT a religious or  divine
commandment from God; this is why the direction or location of  the  ‘unknown
qiblah’ is NOT specified in the Quran to begin with.

In  fact, since there were multiple Qiblahs practiced during the time  of  Muhammad (2:145), Muhammad was unsure of where the ‘real’ qiblah was,   and this is why God told Muhammad, “We have seen you turning your face   about the sky (searching for the right direction)….2:144 ” These words   indicate Muhammad was
confused as to where the real Qiblah was… and this   is why the same verse reconciles Muhammad’s heart by saying: “we now   assign a qiblah that is  pleasing to you…2:144”.

SIXTH
Muhammad was commanded by God to FACE the one and only recognizable Qiblah by God; the Sacred Masjid (2:144).

Conclusion:
1) The communities living with/around Muhammad faced many qiblahs (2:145).

2)  Muhammad was originally facing an uknown qiblah that was NOT   recognized by
God; this is because the ‘uknown qiblah’ was NOT specified   in the Quran, and anything NOT mentioned in the Quran is irrelevant to   our salvation (6:114).
Even if we assume the ‘uknown qiblah’ was   inspiration from God, it WAS NOT a  revelation from God because it is NOT   in the Quran. Hence, the unknown qiblah  is still irrelevant to our   salvation.

3) Muhammad was looking at the sky for guidance  for the real Qiblah  (2:144).
And once God told the prophet to face the  Sacred Masjid  (2:144), Muhammad’s followers were required to obey him  in that matter  because it was a divine Quranic revelation (2:143).

Peace
Joe

 


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