The first abrogation in the Qur’an was about the Qiblah

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بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ

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The first abrogation in the Qur’an was about the Qiblah.

قَدْ نَرَى تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَآءِ فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةً تَرْضَاهَا فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَـبَ لَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ وَمَا اللَّهُ بِغَـفِلٍ عَمَّا يَعْمَلُونَ

(144. 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, so turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid Al-Haram (at Makkah). And wheresoever you people are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction. Certainly, the people who were given the Scripture (i.e., Jews and 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).

Surah 2 Al Baqarah Verse 144

Tafsir Ibn Kathir

`Ali bin Abu Talhah related that Ibn `Abbas narrated: The first abrogated part in the Qur’an was about the Qiblah. When Allah’s Messenger migrated to Al-Madinah, the majority of its people were Jews, and Allah commanded him to face Bayt Al-Maqdis. The Jews were delighted then. Allah’s Messenger faced it for ten and some months, but he liked to face the Qiblah of Ibrahim (Ka`bah in Makkah). He used to supplicate to Allah and look up to the sky (awaiting Allah’s command). Allah then revealed:

(Verily, We have seen the turning of your (Muhammad’s) face towards the heaven), until,

(turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction.)

The Jews did not like this ruling and said:

(“What has turned them (Muslims) from their Qiblah (prayer direction) to which they used to face in prayer.” Say (O Muhammad), “To Allah belong both, east and the west.”) (2:142)

Allah said:

(. ..so wherever you turn (yourselves or your faces) there is the Face of Allah) (2:115),

and:

(And We made the Qiblah (prayer direction towards Jerusalem) which you used to face, only to test those who followed the Messenger (Muhammad ) from those who would turn on their heels (i.e., disobey the Messenger).) (2:143)

Is the Qiblah the Ka`bah itself or its General Direction.

Al-Hakim related that `Ali bin Abu Talib said:

(…so turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid Al-Haram (at Makkah).) means its direction.”

Al-Hakim then commented that the chain of this narration is authentic and that they (i.e., Al-Bukhari and Muslim) did not include it in their collections.

This ruling concerning the Qiblah is also the opinion of Abu Al-`Aliyah, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Qatadah, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and others. Allah’s Statement:

(And wheresoever you people are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction) is a command from Allah to face the Ka`bah from wherever one is on the earth: the east, west, north or south. The exception is of the voluntary prayer (Nafl) while one is traveling, for one is allowed to offer it in any direction his body is facing, while his heart is intending the Ka`bah. Also, when the battle is raging, one is allowed to offer prayer, however he is able. Also, included are those who are not sure of the direction and offer prayer in the wrong direction, thinking that it is the direction of the Qiblah, because Allah does not burden a soul beyond what it can bear.

The Jews had Knowledge that the (Muslim) Qiblah would later be changed.

Allah stated that:

(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.)

This Ayah means: The Jews, who did not like that you change your Qiblah from Bayt Al-Maqdis, already knew that Allah will command you (O Muhammad) to face the Ka`bah. The Jews read in their Books their Prophets’ description of Allah’s Messenger and his Ummah, and that Allah has endowed and honored him with the complete and honorable legislation. Yet, the People of the Book deny these facts because of their envy, disbelief and rebellion. This is why Allah threatened them when He said:

(And Allah is not unaware of what they do.)

وَلَئِنْ أَتَيْتَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَـبَ بِكُلِّ ءَايَةٍ مَّا تَبِعُواْ قِبْلَتَكَ وَمَآ أَنتَ بِتَابِعٍ قِبْلَتَهُمْ وَمَا بَعْضُهُم بِتَابِعٍ قِبْلَةَ بَعْضٍ وَلَئِنِ اتَّبَعْتَ أَهْوَآءَهُم مِّن بَعْدِ مَا جَآءَكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ إِنَّكَ إِذَا لَّمِنَ الظَّـلِمِينَ

(145. And even if you were to bring to the People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) all the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), they would not follow your Qiblah (prayer direction), nor are you going to follow their Qiblah. And they will not follow each other’s Qiblah. Verily, if you follow their desires after that which you have received of knowledge (from Allah), then indeed you will be one of the wrongdoers.)

Surah 2 Al Baqarah Verse 145

Tafsir Ibn Kathir

The Stubbornness and Disbelief of the Jews.

Allah describes the Jews’ disbelief, stubbornness and defiance of what they know of the truth of Allah’s Messenger , that if the Prophet brought forward every proof to the truth of what he was sent with, they will never obey him or abandon following their desires. In another instance, Allah said:

(Truly, those, against whom the Word (wrath) of your Lord has been justified, will not believe. Even if every sign should come to them, until they see the painful torment.) (10:96, 97)

This is why Allah said here:

(And even if you were to bring to the People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) all the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), they would not follow your Qiblah (prayer direction)).

Allah’s statement:

(…nor are you going to follow their Qiblah ), indicates the vigor with which Allah’s Messenger implements what Allah commanded him. Allah’s statement also indicates that as much as the Jews adhere to their opinions and desires, the Prophet adheres by Allah’s commands, obeying Him and following what pleases Him, and that he would never adhere to their desires in any case. Hence, praying towards Bayt Al-Maqdis was not because it was the Qiblah of the Jews, but because Allah had commanded it. Allah then warns those who knowingly defy the truth, because the proof against those who know is stronger than against other people. This is why Allah said to His Messenger and his Ummah:

(Verily, if you follow their desires after that which you have received of knowledge (from Allah), then indeed you will be one of the wrongdoers.)

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