In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 148-150
Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu commented that 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 is similar to what Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says in Surah Al-Ma’idah ayah 48,
لِكُلٍّ جَعَلْنَا مِنكُمْ شِرْعَةً وَمِنْهَـجاً وَلَوْ شَآءَ اللَّهُ لَجَعَلَكُمْ أُمَّةً وَحِدَةً وَلَـكِن لِّيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِى مَآ ءَاتَـكُم فَاسْتَبِقُوا الخَيْرَاتِ إِلَى الله مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعاً
“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)
Everyone has a direction and goal in their life. For a Muslim, the goal should be seeking the pleasure of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala; in happiness and sorrow we should turn to Him. Some women get married and make their husbands and children, the main focus of their lives. The family takes priority over Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and His worship. In Ramadan too, we will not stop getting involved in worldly matters and exert ourselves in finding summer clubs and activities for our children because the school is off. If Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala was really the main goal of our lives, we would avail every opportunity to connect them to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. We would use every vacant moment of our lives in learning and teaching His Deen, and improving our worship.
Many single sisters looking at the married ones feel they have no purpose in life. Because they don’t have a family of their own, for them their life is meaningless. But didn’t we have Sahaabiyat who never got married or had children, yet exerted themselves in worshiping Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala? When Imam Ibn Taimiyyah was imprisoned, he thanked Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for giving him the free time to worship Him. When Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam was exiled by his father and community, he did not grieve over losing his family,rather He turned to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and fulfilled his duties to Him.
Why do we compare ourselves with the people of this world? Why can’t we look at and take inspiration from the lives of the prophets ‘alayhim salaam and follow their footsteps? Why is dunya our goal and not the Hereafter? Why do we consider ourselves unlucky when we don’t have something of the dunya? Why don’t we strive and cry for the pleasures of the Hereafter, as we yearn for the temporary delights of this world?
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “So hasten towards all that is good.” Why don’t we chase what is actually going to benefit us in the Hereafter? Will our jobs, degrees, spouses, children, cooking skills, and other unnecessary stresses of this world save us in the Hereafter? Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “Wheresoever you may be, Allah will bring you together (on the Day of Resurrection). Truly, Allah is able to do all things.” He is able to gather us from the earth even if our bodies and flesh are disintegrated and scattered. What will we show Him: our degrees, our well-decorated homes, our cooking and makeup skills, our crafts,or our clothes?
The ayaat repeatedly talk about the Qiblah because it is the direction in which the Muslims pray. It is not just the direction of our prayer, but it is a reminder of who we are and what our purpose on this earth is. If one forgets their purpose in life and gets distracted where is their life going to go? For a Muslim, the purpose of his life is worshiping Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala which is what we were created for. Everything else is secondary, just a mean to survive this earthly life not ‘the purpose’. If Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is not the priority of our life then we have indeed lost our way.
Why was changing the Qiblah mentioned thrice?
This is a third command from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala 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. First, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala 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), Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala mentioned in these ayaat 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 subhanahu wa ta’ala 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.”
Here, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala states that changing the Qiblah is also the truth from Him, thus upgrading the subject more than in the first ayah, in which He agreed to what His Prophet had wished for. Thus, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala states that this is also the truth from Him that He likes and is pleased with. In the third command, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala refutes the Jewish assertion that the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam faced their Qiblah. It was already present in their Books that the Prophet will later on be commanded to face the Qiblah of Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam, the Ka’abah. The Arab disbelievers had no more argument concerning the Prophet’s Qiblah. He was now praying in the direction of the Qiblah of Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam, which is more respected and honored, rather than the Qiblah of the Jews.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said,
فَلاَ تَخْشَوْهُمْ وَاخْشَوْنِى
“…so fear them not, but fear Me!” meaning do not fear the doubts that the unjust, stubborn people raise and fear Me Alone. Indeed, Allah Alone deserves to be feared. He says, “…so that I may complete My blessings on you and that you may be guided.”
When we have understood the purpose of our life, we will not fall for what people say. Our purpose in life becomes seeking the pleasure of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala solely. He becomes the main focus of our lives and it is Him that we should fear the most. If we are sincere in obeying Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and stand firm in His path, He will take care of us and support us against our enemies. Why do we fear the people? Why do we gain the wrath of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala while pleasing other people?
If people do not appreciate us or what we do, then let it be it! They lack understanding of the Deen, but if the truth has reached us we must become strong. In the Hereafter, when Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will resurrect all of us no one will support us. But if we have been steadfast and lived by the truth and lived our life as it pleased Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala we will be saved, in shaa Allah.
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