;
The Muslim believes in all that Allah `revealed and all the Prophets

Allah directed His believing servants to believe in what He sent down to them through His Messenger Muhammad and in what was revealed to the previous Prophets in general. Some Prophets Allah mentioned by name, while He did not mention the names of many others. Allah directed the believers to refrain from differentiating between the Prophets and to believe in them all. They should avoid imitating whomever Allah described as,

﴿ وَيُرِيدُونَ أَن يُفَرِّقُواْ بَيۡنَ ٱللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِۦ وَيَقُولُونَ نُؤۡمِنُ بِبَعۡضٍ۬ وَنَڪۡفُرُ بِبَعۡضٍ۬ وَيُرِيدُونَ أَن يَتَّخِذُواْ بَيۡنَ ذَٲلِكَ سَبِيلاً أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمُ ٱلۡكَـٰفِرُونَ حَقًّ۬ا‌ۚ

(And wish to make distinction between Allah and His Messengers (by believing in Allah and disbelieving in His Messengers) saying, "We believe in some but reject others,'' and wish to adopt a way in between. They are in truth disbelievers) (4:150-151).

Al-Bukhari narrated that Abu Hurayrah said, "The People of the Book used to read the Torah in Hebrew and translate it into Arabic for the Muslims. The Messenger of Allah said,

« لَا تُصَدِّقُوا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ وَلَا تُكَذِّبُوهُمْ وقُولُوا: آمَنَّا بِاللهِ وَمَا أُنْزل إِلَيْنَا »

(Do not believe the People of the Book, nor reject what they say. Rather, say, `We believe in Allah and in what was sent down to us.)''

Also, Muslim, Abu Dawud and An-Nasa'i recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, "Mostly, the Messenger of Allah used to recite,

﴿ ءَامَنَّا بِٱللَّهِ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيۡنَا

(We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us) (2: 136), and,

﴿ ءَامَنَّا بِٱللَّهِ وَٱشۡهَدۡ بِأَنَّا مُسۡلِمُونَ

(We believe in Allah, and bear witness that we are Muslims (i.e. we submit to Allah)) (3:52) during the two (voluntary) Rak`at before Fajr.''

Abu Al-`Aliyah, Ar-Rabi` and Qatadah said, "Al-Asbat are the twelve sons of Jacob, and each one of them had an Ummah of people from his descendants. This is why they were called Al-Asbat.'' Al-Khalil bin Ahmad and others said, "Al-Asbat among the Children of Israel are just like the tribes among the Children of Isma`il.'' This means that the Asbat are the various tribes of the Children of Israel, among whom Allah sent several Prophets. Moses said to the Children of Israel,

﴿ ٱذۡكُرُواْ نِعۡمَةَ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيۡكُمۡ إِذۡ جَعَلَ فِيكُمۡ أَنۢبِيَآءَ وَجَعَلَكُم مُّلُوكً۬ا

(Remember the favor of Allah to you: when He made Prophets among you, made you kings) (5:20). Also, Allah said,

﴿ وَقَطَّعۡنَـٰهُمُ ٱثۡنَتَىۡ عَشۡرَةَ أَسۡبَاطًا

(And We divided them into twelve tribes) (7:160).

Al-Qurtubi said, "Sibt is the group of people or a tribe all belonging to the same ancestors.''

Qatadah said, "Allah commanded the believers to believe in Him and in all His Books and Messengers. '' Also, Sulayman bin Habib said, "We were commanded to believe in the (original) Torah and Injil, but not to implement them.''

﴿ فَإِنۡ ءَامَنُواْ بِمِثۡلِ مَآ ءَامَنتُم بِهِۦ فَقَدِ ٱهۡتَدَواْ‌ۖ وَّإِن تَوَلَّوۡاْ فَإِنَّمَا هُمۡ فِى شِقَاقٍ۬‌ۖ فَسَيَكۡفِيڪَهُمُ ٱللَّهُ‌ۚ وَهُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلۡعَلِيمُ صِبۡغَةَ ٱللَّهِ‌ۖ وَمَنۡ أَحۡسَنُ مِنَ ٱللَّهِ صِبۡغَةً۬‌ۖ وَنَحۡنُ لَهُ ۥ عَـٰبِدُونَ

(137. So if they believe in the like of that which you believe then they are rightly guided; but if they turn away, then they are only in opposition. So Allah will suffice for you against them. And He is the Hearer, the Knower.) (138. Our Sibghah (religion) is the Sibghah of Allah (Islam) and which Sibghah can be better than Allah's And we are His worshippers.)

Allah said, if they, the disbelievers among the People of the Book and other disbelievers, believe in all of Allah's Books and Messengers and do not differentiate between any of them,

﴿ فَقَدِ ٱهۡتَدَواْ‌ۖ

(then they are rightly guided) meaning, they would acquire the truth and be directed to it.

﴿ وَّإِن تَوَلَّوۡاْ

(but if they turn away) from truth to falsehood after proof had been presented to them,

﴿ فَإِنَّمَا هُمۡ فِى شِقَاقٍ۬‌ۖ فَسَيَكۡفِيڪَهُمُ ٱللَّهُ‌ۚ

(then they are only in opposition. So Allah will suffice you against them) meaning, Allah will aid the believers against them,

﴿ وَهُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلۡعَلِيمُ

(And He is the Hearer, the Knower). Allah said,

﴿ صِبۡغَةَ ٱللَّهِ‌ۖ

(The Sibghah of Allah). Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn `Abbas commented, "The religion of Allah.'' This Tafsir was also reported of Mujahid, Abu Al-`Aliyah, `Ikrimah, Ibrahim, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak, `Abdullah bin Kathir, `Atiyah Al-`Awfi, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, As-Suddi and other scholars. The Ayah,

﴿ فِطۡرَتَ ٱللَّهِ

(Allah's Fitrah (i.e. Allah's Islamic Monotheism)) (30:30) directs Muslims to, "Hold to it.''

﴿ قُلۡ أَتُحَآجُّونَنَا فِى ٱللَّهِ وَهُوَ رَبُّنَا وَرَبُّڪُمۡ وَلَنَآ أَعۡمَـٰلُنَا وَلَكُمۡ أَعۡمَـٰلُكُمۡ وَنَحۡنُ لَهُ ۥ مُخۡلِصُونَ أَمۡ تَقُولُونَ إِنَّ إِبۡرَٲهِـۧمَ وَإِسۡمَـٰعِيلَ وَإِسۡحَـٰقَ وَيَعۡقُوبَ وَٱلۡأَسۡبَاطَ كَانُواْ هُودًا أَوۡ نَصَـٰرَىٰ‌ۗ قُلۡ ءَأَنتُمۡ أَعۡلَمُ أَمِ ٱللَّهُ‌ۗ وَمَنۡ أَظۡلَمُ مِمَّن كَتَمَ شَهَـٰدَةً عِندَهُ ۥ مِنَ ٱللَّهِ‌ۗ وَمَا ٱللَّهُ بِغَـٰفِلٍ عَمَّا تَعۡمَلُونَ تِلۡكَ أُمَّةٌ۬ قَدۡ خَلَتۡ‌ۖ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتۡ وَلَكُم مَّا كَسَبۡتُمۡ‌ۖ وَلَا تُسۡـَٔلُونَ عَمَّا كَانُواْ يَعۡمَلُونَ

(139. Say (O Muhammad to the Jews and Christians), "Dispute you with us about Allah while He is our Lord and your Lord And we are to be rewarded for our deeds and you for your deeds. And we are sincere to Him (i.e. we worship Him alone and none else, and we obey His orders).'') (140. Or say you that Ibrahim, Isma`il, Ishaq, Ya`qub and Al-Asbat, were Jews or Christians Say, "Do you know better or does Allah And who is more unjust than he who conceals the testimony he has from Allah And Allah is not unaware of what you do.'') (141. That was a nation who has passed away. They shall receive the reward of what they earned, and you of what you earn. And you will not be asked of what they used to do.)

Allah directed His Prophet to pre-empt the arguments with the idolaters:

﴿ قُلۡ أَتُحَآجُّونَنَا فِى ٱللَّهِ

(Say (O Muhammad to the Jews and Christians), "Dispute you with us about Allah) meaning, "Do you dispute with us regarding the Oneness of Allah, obedience and submission to Him and in avoiding His prohibitions,

﴿ وَهُوَ رَبُّنَا وَرَبُّڪُمۡ

(while He is our Lord and your Lord) meaning, He has full control over us and you, and deserves the worship alone without partners.

﴿ وَلَنَآ أَعۡمَـٰلُنَا وَلَكُمۡ أَعۡمَـٰلُكُمۡ

(And we are to be rewarded for our deeds and you for your deeds.) meaning, we disown you and what you worship, just as you disown us. Allah said in another Ayah,

﴿ وَإِن كَذَّبُوكَ فَقُل لِّى عَمَلِى وَلَكُمۡ عَمَلُكُمۡ‌ۖ أَنتُم بَرِيٓـُٔونَ مِمَّآ أَعۡمَلُ وَأَنَا۟ بَرِىٓءٌ۬ مِّمَّا تَعۡمَلُونَ

(And if they belie you, say: "For me are my deeds and for you are your deeds! You are innocent of what I do, and I am innocent of what you do!'') (10:41), and,

﴿ فَإِنۡ حَآجُّوكَ فَقُلۡ أَسۡلَمۡتُ وَجۡهِىَ لِلَّهِ وَمَنِ ٱتَّبَعَنِ‌ۗ

(So if they dispute with you (Muhammad) say: "I have submitted myself to Allah (in Islam), and (so have) those who follow me'') (3:20). Allah said about Ibrahim,

﴿ وَحَآجَّهُ ۥ قَوۡمُهُ ۥ‌ۚ قَالَ أَتُحَـٰٓجُّوٓنِّى فِى ٱللَّهِ

(His people disputed with him. He said: "Do you dispute with me concerning Allah'') (6:80), and,

﴿ أَلَمۡ تَرَ إِلَى ٱلَّذِى حَآجَّ إِبۡرَٲهِـۧمَ فِى رَبِّهِۦۤ

(Have you not looked at him who disputed with Ibrahim about his Lord (Allah)) (2:258). He said in this honorable Ayah,

﴿ وَلَنَآ أَعۡمَـٰلُنَا وَلَكُمۡ أَعۡمَـٰلُكُمۡ وَنَحۡنُ لَهُ ۥ مُخۡلِصُونَ

(And we are to be rewarded for our deeds and you for your deeds. And we are sincere to Him.) meaning, "We disown you just as you disown us,''

﴿ وَنَحۡنُ لَهُ ۥ مُخۡلِصُونَ

(And we are sincere to Him), in worship and submission.

Allah then criticized them in the claim that Ibrahim, the Prophets who came after him and the Asbat were following their religion, whether Judaism or Christianity. Allah said,

﴿ قُلۡ ءَأَنتُمۡ أَعۡلَمُ أَمِ ٱللَّهُ‌ۗ

(Say, "Do you know better or does Allah'') meaning, Allah has the best knowledge and He stated that they were neither Jews, nor Christians. Similarly, Allah said in the Ayah,

﴿ مَا كَانَ إِبۡرَٲهِيمُ يَہُودِيًّ۬ا وَلَا نَصۡرَانِيًّ۬ا وَلَـٰكِن كَانَ حَنِيفً۬ا مُّسۡلِمً۬ا وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُشۡرِكِينَ

(Ibrahim was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was a true Muslim Hanifa (to worship none but Allah alone) and he was not of Al-Mushrikin) (3:67) and the following Ayat. Allah also said,

﴿ وَمَنۡ أَظۡلَمُ مِمَّن كَتَمَ شَهَـٰدَةً عِندَهُ ۥ مِنَ ٱللَّهِ‌ۗ

And who is more unjust than he who conceals the testimony he has from Allah (2:140). Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, They used to recite the Book of Allah He sent to them that stated that the true religion is Islam and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. Their Book also stated that Ibrahim, Isma’il, Ishaq, Yaqub and the tribes were neither Jews, nor Christians. They testified to these facts, yet hid them from the people. Allah’s statement,

﴿ وَمَا ٱللَّهُ بِغَـٰفِلٍ عَمَّا تَعۡمَلُونَ

(And Allah is not unaware of what you do), is a threat and a warning that His knowledge encompasses every one's deeds, and He shall award each accordingly. Allah then said,

﴿ تِلۡكَ أُمَّةٌ۬ قَدۡ خَلَتۡ‌ۖ

(That was a nation who has passed away.) meaning, existed before you,

﴿ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتۡ وَلَكُم مَّا كَسَبۡتُمۡ‌ۖ

(They shall receive the reward of what they earned, and you of what you earn.) meaning, they bear their deeds while you bear yours,

﴿ وَلَا تُسۡـَٔلُونَ عَمَّا كَانُواْ يَعۡمَلُونَ

(And you will not be asked of what they used to do) meaning, the fact that you are their relatives will not suffice, unless you imitate their good deeds. Further, do not be deceived by the fact that you are their descendants, unless you imitate them in obeying Allah's orders and following His Messengers who were sent as warners and bearers of good news. Indeed, whoever disbelieves in even one Prophet, will have disbelieved in all the Messengers, especially if one disbelieves in the master and Final Messenger from Allah, the Lord of the worlds, to all mankind and the Jinns. May Allah's peace and blessings be on Muhammad and the rest of Allah's Prophets.

﴿ سَيَقُولُ ٱلسُّفَهَآءُ مِنَ ٱلنَّاسِ مَا وَلَّٮٰهُمۡ عَن قِبۡلَتِہِمُ ٱلَّتِى كَانُواْ عَلَيۡهَا‌ۚ قُل لِّلَّهِ ٱلۡمَشۡرِقُ وَٱلۡمَغۡرِبُ‌ۚ يَہۡدِى مَن يَشَآءُ إِلَىٰ صِرَٲطٍ۬ مُّسۡتَقِيمٍ۬ وَكَذَٲلِكَ جَعَلۡنَـٰكُمۡ أُمَّةً۬ وَسَطً۬ا لِّتَڪُونُواْ شُہَدَآءَ عَلَى ٱلنَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ ٱلرَّسُولُ عَلَيۡكُمۡ شَهِيدً۬ا‌ۗ وَمَا جَعَلۡنَا ٱلۡقِبۡلَةَ ٱلَّتِى كُنتَ عَلَيۡہَآ إِلَّا لِنَعۡلَمَ مَن يَتَّبِعُ ٱلرَّسُولَ مِمَّن يَنقَلِبُ عَلَىٰ عَقِبَيۡهِ‌ۚ وَإِن كَانَتۡ لَكَبِيرَةً إِلَّا عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ هَدَى ٱللَّهُ‌ۗ وَمَا كَانَ ٱللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَـٰنَكُمۡ‌ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ بِٱلنَّاسِ لَرَءُوفٌ۬ رَّحِيمٌ۬

(142. The fools (idolaters, hypocrites, and Jews) among the people will say: "What has turned them (Muslims) from their Qiblah (prayer direction (towards Jerusalem)) to which they used to face in prayer.'' Say (O Muhammad): "To Allah belong both, east and the west. He guides whom He wills to the straight way.'') (143. Thus We have made you ﴿true Muslims ـ real believers of Islamic Monotheism, true followers of Prophet Muhammad and his Sunnah (legal ways)], a Wasat (just and the best) nation, that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger (Muhammad) be a witness over you. And We made the Qiblah 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). Indeed it was great (heavy, difficult) except for those whom Allah guided. And Allah would never make your faith (prayers) to be lost (i.e., your prayers offered towards Jerusalem). Truly, Allah is full of kindness, the Most Merciful towards mankind.)

Changing the Qiblah ـ Direction of the Prayer

Imam Al-Bukhari reported that Al-Bara' bin `Azib narrated: "Allah's Messenger offered his prayers facing Bayt Al-Maqdis (Jerusalem) for sixteen or seventeen months, but he wished that he could pray facing the Ka`bah (at Makkah). The first prayer which he offered (facing the Ka`bah) was the `Asr (Afternoon) prayer in the company of some people. Then one of those who had offered that prayer with him, went out and passed by some people in a mosque who were in the bowing position (in Ruku`) during their prayers (facing Jerusalem). He addressed them saying, `By Allah, I bear witness that I have offered prayer with the Prophet facing Makkah (Ka`bah).' Hearing that, those people immediately changed their direction towards the House (Ka`bah) while still as they were (i.e., in the same bowing position). Some Muslims who offered prayer towards the previous Qiblah (Jerusalem) before it was changed towards the House (the Ka`bah in Makkah) had died or had been martyred, and we did not know what to say about them (regarding their prayers towards Jerusalem). Allah then revealed:

﴿ وَمَا كَانَ ٱللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَـٰنَكُمۡ‌ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ بِٱلنَّاسِ لَرَءُوفٌ۬ رَّحِيمٌ۬

(And Allah would never make your faith (prayers) to be lost (i.e., the prayers of those Muslims were valid)) (2:143).''

Al-Bukhari collected this narration, while Muslim collected it using another chain of narrators. Muhammad bin Ishaq reported that Al-Bara' narrated: Allah's Messenger used to offer prayers towards Bayt Al-Maqdis (in Jerusalem), but would keep looking at the sky awaiting Allah's command (to change the Qiblah). Then Allah revealed:

﴿ قَدۡ نَرَىٰ تَقَلُّبَ وَجۡهِكَ فِى ٱلسَّمَآءِ‌ۖ فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبۡلَةً۬ تَرۡضَٮٰهَا‌ۚ فَوَلِّ وَجۡهَكَ شَطۡرَ ٱلۡمَسۡجِدِ ٱلۡحَرَامِ‌ۚ

(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).) (2:144)

A man from among the Muslims then said, "We wish we could know about those among us who died before the Qiblah was changed (i.e., towards Makkah) and also about our own prayers, that we had performed towards Bayt Al-Maqdis.'' Allah then revealed:

﴿ وَمَا كَانَ ٱللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَـٰنَكُمۡ‌ۚ

(And Allah would never make your faith (prayers) to be lost.) (2:143)

The fools among the people, meaning the People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), said, "What made them change the former Qiblah that they used to face'' Allah then revealed:

﴿ سَيَقُولُ ٱلسُّفَهَآءُ مِنَ ٱلنَّاسِ

(The fools (idolaters, hypocrites, and Jews) among the people will say...)

until the end of the Ayah.

`Ali bin Abu Talhah related that Ibn `Abbas said: When Allah's Messenger migrated to Al-Madinah, Allah commanded him to face Bayt Al-Maqdis (Jerusalem). The Jews were delighted then. Allah's Messenger faced Jerusalem for over ten months. However, he liked (to offer prayer in the direction of) Prophet Ibrahim's Qiblah (the Ka`bah in Makkah) and used to supplicate to Allah and kept looking up to the sky (awaiting Allah's command in this regard). Allah then revealed:

﴿ فَوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمۡ شَطۡرَهُ ۥ‌ۗ

(turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction.) meaning, its direction. The Jews did not like this change and said, "What made them change the Qiblah that they used to face (meaning Jerusalem)'' Allah revealed:

﴿ قُل لِّلَّهِ ٱلۡمَشۡرِقُ وَٱلۡمَغۡرِبُ‌ۚ يَہۡدِى مَن يَشَآءُ إِلَىٰ صِرَٲطٍ۬ مُّسۡتَقِيمٍ۬

(Say (O Muhammad): "To Allah belong both, east and the west. He guides whom He wills to the straight way.'')

There are several other Ahadith on this subject. In summary, Allah's Messenger was commanded to face Bayt Al-Maqdis (during the prayer) and he used to offer prayer towards it in Makkah between the two corners (of Ka`bah), so that the Ka`bah would be between him and Bayt Al-Maqdis. When the Prophet migrated to Al-Madinah, this practice was no longer possible; then Allah commanded him to offer prayer towards Bayt Al-Maqdis, as Ibn Abbas and the majority of the scholars have stated.

Al-Bukhari reported in his Sahih that the news (of the change of Qiblah) was conveyed to some of the Ansar while they were performing the `Asr (Afternoon) prayer towards Bayt Al-Maqdis, upon hearing that, they immediately changed their direction and faced the Ka`bah.

It is reported in the Sahihayn (Al-Bukhari Muslim) that Ibn `Umar narrated: While the people were in Quba' (Mosque) performing the Fajr (Dawn) prayer, a man came and said, "A (part of the) Qur'an was revealed tonight to Allah's Messenger and he was commanded to face the Ka`bah. Therefore, face the Ka`bah. They were facing Ash-Sham, so they turned towards the Ka`bah.

These Hadiths prove that the Nasikh (a Text that abrogates a previous Text) only applies after one acquires knowledge of it, even if the Nasikh had already been revealed and announced. This is why the Companions mentioned above were not commanded to repeat the previous `Asr, Maghrib and `Isha' prayers (although they had prayed them towards Jerusalem after Allah had changed the Qiblah). Allah knows best.

When the change of Qiblah (to Ka`bah in Makkah) occurred, those inflicted with hypocrisy and mistrust, and the disbelieving Jews, both were led astray from the right guidance and fell into confusion. They said:

﴿ مَا وَلَّٮٰهُمۡ عَن قِبۡلَتِہِمُ ٱلَّتِى كَانُواْ عَلَيۡهَا‌ۚ

(What has turned them (Muslims) from their Qiblah to which they used to face in prayer.)

They asked, "What is the matter with these people (Muslims) who one time face this direction (Jerusalem), and then face that direction (Makkah)'' Allah answered their questions when He stated:

﴿ قُل لِّلَّهِ ٱلۡمَشۡرِقُ وَٱلۡمَغۡرِبُ‌ۚ

(Say (O Muhammad) : "To Allah belong both, east and the west.) meaning, the command, the decision and the authority are for Allah Alone. Hence:

﴿ فَأَيۡنَمَا تُوَلُّواْ فَثَمَّ وَجۡهُ ٱللَّهِ‌ۚ

(...so wherever you turn (yourselves or your faces) there is the Face of Allah (and He is High above, over His Throne).) (2:115),

and:

﴿ لَّيۡسَ ٱلۡبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمۡ قِبَلَ ٱلۡمَشۡرِقِ وَٱلۡمَغۡرِبِ وَلَـٰكِنَّ ٱلۡبِرَّ مَنۡ ءَامَنَ بِٱللَّهِ

( It is not Al-Birr (piety, righteousness) that you turn your faces towards east and (or) west (in prayers); but Al-Birr is the one who believes in Allah.) (2:177) This statement means, the best act is to adhere to Allah's commands. Hence, wherever He commands us to face, we should face. Also, since obedience requires implementing Allah's commands, if He commands us every day to face different places, we are His servants and under His disposal, and we face whatever He orders us to face. Certainly, Allah's care and kindness towards His servant and Messenger, Muhammad, and certainly, his Ummah (Muslim nation) is profoundly great. Allah has guided them to the Qiblah of (Prophet) Ibrahim - Allah's Khalil (intimate friend). He has commanded them to face the Ka`bah, the most honorable house (of worship) on the face of the earth, which was built by Ibrahim Al-Khalil in the Name of Allah, the One without a partner. This is why Allah said afterwards:

﴿ قُل لِّلَّهِ ٱلۡمَشۡرِقُ وَٱلۡمَغۡرِبُ‌ۚ يَہۡدِى مَن يَشَآءُ إِلَىٰ صِرَٲطٍ۬ مُّسۡتَقِيمٍ۬

(Say (O Muhammad): "To Allah belong both, east and the west. He guides whom He wills to the straight way.'')

Imam Ahmad reported that `A'ishah (the Prophet's wife) said that Allah's Messenger said about the People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians):

« إنَّهُم لا يَحْسِدونَنَا عَلَى شَيْء كَمَا يَحْسِدونَنا عَلَى يَوْمِ الْجُمُعَةِ الَّتِي هَدَانَا اللهُ لَهَا وَضَلُوا عَنْهَا وَعَلَى الْقِبْلَةِ الَّتِي هَدَانَا اللهُ لَهَا وَضَلُّوا عَنْهَا وَعَلَى قَوْلِنَا خَلْفَ الإِمَامِ: آمِين »

(They do not envy us for a matter more than they envy us for Jumu`ah (Friday) to which Allah has guided us and from which they were led astray; for the (true) Qiblah to which Allah has directed us and from which they were led astray; and for our saying `Amin' behind the Imam (leader of the prayer).)

The Virtues of Muhammad's Nation

Allah said:

﴿ وَكَذَٲلِكَ جَعَلۡنَـٰكُمۡ أُمَّةً۬ وَسَطً۬ا لِّتَڪُونُواْ شُہَدَآءَ عَلَى ٱلنَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ ٱلرَّسُولُ عَلَيۡكُمۡ شَهِيدً۬ا‌ۗ

(Thus We have made you (true Muslims), a Wasat (just) (and the best) nation, that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger (Muhammad) be a witness over you.)

Allah stated that He has changed our Qiblah to the Qiblah of Ibrahim and chose it for us so that He makes us the best nation ever. Hence, we will be the witnesses over the nations on the Day of Resurrection, for all of them will then agree concerning our virtue. The word Wasat in the Ayah means the best and the most honored. Therefore, saying that (the Prophet's tribe) Quraysh is in the Wasat regarding Arab tribes and their areas, means the best. Similarly, saying that Allah's Messenger was in the Wasat of his people, means he was from the best subtribe. Also, `Asr, the prayer that is described as `Wusta' (a variation of the word Wasat), means the best prayer, as the authentic collections of Ahadith reported. Since Allah made this Ummah (Muslim nation) the Wasat, He has endowed her with the most complete legislation, the best Manhaj (way, method, etc.,) and the clearest Madhhab (methodology, mannerism, etc). Allah said:

﴿ هُوَ ٱجۡتَبَٮٰكُمۡ وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيۡكُمۡ فِى ٱلدِّينِ مِنۡ حَرَجٍ۬‌ۚ مِّلَّةَ أَبِيكُمۡ إِبۡرَٲهِيمَ‌ۚ هُوَ سَمَّٮٰكُمُ ٱلۡمُسۡلِمِينَ مِن قَبۡلُ وَفِى هَـٰذَا لِيَكُونَ ٱلرَّسُولُ شَهِيدًا عَلَيۡكُمۡ وَتَكُونُواْ شُہَدَآءَ عَلَى ٱلنَّاسِ‌ۚ

(He has chosen you (to convey His Message of Islamic Monotheism to mankind), and has not laid upon you in religion any hardship: it is the religion of your father Ibrahim. It is He (Allah) Who has named you Muslims both before and in this (the Qur'an), that the Messenger (Muhammad) may be a witness over you and you be witnesses over mankind!) (22:78)

Moreover, Imam Ahmad reported that Abu Sa`id narrated: Allah's Messenger said:

« يُدْعَى نُوحٌ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامة، فَيُقَالُ لَهُ: هَلْ بَلَّغْتَ؟ فَيَقُولُ: نَعَمْ، فَيُدْعَى قَوْمُهُ فَيُقَالُ لَهُمْ: هَلْ بَلَّغَكُمْ فَيَقُولُونَ: مَا أتَانَا مِنْ نَذِيرٍ وَمَا أتَانَا مِنْ أَحَدٍ، فَيُقَالُ لِنُوح: مَنْ يَشْهَدُ لَكَ؟ فَيَقُولُ: مُحَمَّدٌ وَأُمَّتُهُ، قال فَذلِكَ قَوْلُهُ:
﴿ وَكَذَٲلِكَ جَعَلۡنَـٰكُمۡ أُمَّةً۬ وَسَطً۬ا
قَالَ: والْوَسَطُ الْعَدْلُ، فَتُدْعَون فَتَشْهَدُونَ لَهُ بِالْبَلَاغِ ثُمَّ أَشْهَدُ عَلَيْكُم »

(Nuh will be called on the Day of Resurrection and will be asked, `Have you conveyed (the Message)' He will say, `Yes.' His people will be summoned and asked, `Has Nuh conveyed (the Message) to you' They will say, `No warner came to us and no one (Prophet) was sent to us.' Nuh will be asked, `Who testifies for you' He will say, `Muhammad and his Ummah.')

This is why Allah said:

﴿ وَكَذَٲلِكَ جَعَلۡنَـٰكُمۡ أُمَّةً۬ وَسَطً۬ا

(Thus We have made you a Wasat nation.)

The Prophet said; (The Wasat means the `Adl (just). You will be summoned to testify that Nuh has conveyed (his Message), and I will attest to your testimony.)

It was also recorded by Al-Bukhari, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa'i and Ibn Majah.

Imam Ahmad also reported that Abu Sa`id Khudri narrated: Allah's Messenger said:

« يَجِيءُ النَّبِيُّ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَمَعَهُ الرَّجُلَانِ وَأَكْثَرُ مِنْ ذلِكَ، فيُدْعَى قَوْمُهُ، فَيُقَالُ: هَلْ بَلَّغَكُمْ هَذَا؟ فَيَقُولُونَ: لَا فَيُقالُ لَهُ: هَلْ بَلَّغْتَ قَوْمَكَ؟ فَيَقُولُ: نَعَمْ، فَيُقالُ: مَنْ يَشْهَدُ لَكَ؟ فَيَقُولُ: مُحَمَّدٌ وَأُمَّتُهُ، فَيُدْعَى مُحَمَّدٌ وَأُمَّتُهُ، فَيُقَالُ لَهُمْ: هَلْ بَلَّغَ هذَا قَوْمَهُ؟ فَيَقُولُونَ: نَعَمْ، فَيُقَالُ: وَمَا عِلْمُكُمْ؟ فَيَقُولُونَ: جَاءَنَا نَبِيُّنَا صلى الله عليه وسلّم فأخْبَرَنَا أَنَّ الرُّسُلَ قَدْ بَلَّغُوا، فَذلِك قَوْلُهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ:
﴿ وَكَذَٲلِكَ جَعَلۡنَـٰكُمۡ أُمَّةً۬ وَسَطً۬ا
قَالَ: عَدْلًا
﴿ وَكَذَٲلِكَ جَعَلۡنَـٰكُمۡ أُمَّةً۬ وَسَطً۬ا لِّتَڪُونُواْ شُہَدَآءَ عَلَى ٱلنَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ ٱلرَّسُولُ عَلَيۡكُمۡ شَهِيدً۬ا‌ۗ

(The Prophet would come on the Day of Resurrection with two or more people (his only following!), and his people would also be summoned and asked, `Has he (their Prophet) conveyed (the Message) to you' They would say, `No.' He would be asked, `Have you conveyed (the Message) to your people' He would say, `Yes.' He would be asked, `Who testifies for you' He would say, `Muhammad and his Ummah.' Muhammad and his Ummah would then be summoned and asked, `Has he conveyed (the Message) to his people' They would say, `Yes.' They would be asked, `Who told you that' They would say, `Our Prophet (Muhammad) came to us and told us that the Messengers have conveyed (their Messages). ')

Hence Allah's statement:

﴿ وَكَذَٲلِكَ جَعَلۡنَـٰكُمۡ أُمَّةً۬ وَسَطً۬ا

(Thus We have made you a Wasat nation.)

He said, "(meaning) the `Adl,' (he then continued reciting the Ayah):

﴿ وَكَذَٲلِكَ جَعَلۡنَـٰكُمۡ أُمَّةً۬ وَسَطً۬ا لِّتَڪُونُواْ شُہَدَآءَ عَلَى ٱلنَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ ٱلرَّسُولُ عَلَيۡكُمۡ شَهِيدً۬ا‌ۗ

(Thus We have made you, a just (and the best) nation, that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger (Muhammad) be a witness over you.)''

Furthermore, Imam Ahmad reported that Abul-Aswad narrated: I came to Al-Madinah and found that an epidemic had broken out that caused many fatalities. I sat next to `Umar bin Al-Khattab once when a funeral procession started and the people praised the dead person. `Umar said, "Wajabat (it will be recorded as such), Wajabat!'' Then another funeral was brought forth and the people criticized the dead person. Again, `Umar said, "Wajabat.'' Abul-Aswad asked, "What is Wajabat, O Leader of the faithful'' He said, "I said just like Allah's Messenger had said:

« أَيُّمَا مُسْلِمٍ شَهِدَ لَهُ أَرْبَعَةٌ بِخَيْر أَدْخَلَهُ اللهُ الْجَنَّــة »
قَالَ: فَقُلْنَا وَثَلَاثَةٌ؟ قَالَ: فَقَالَ:
« وَثَلَاثَةٌ »
قَالَ: فَقُلْنَا وَاثْنَانِ: قَالَ
« وَاثْنَان »
ثُمَّ لَمْ نَسْأَلْهُ عَنِ الْوَاحِدِ.

(Any Muslim for whom four testify that he was righteous, then Allah will enter him into Paradise.' We said, `What about three' He said, `And three.' We said, `And two' He said, `And two.' We did not ask him about (the testimony) of one (believing) person.)''

This was also recorded by Al-Bukhari, At-Tirmidhi, and An-Nasa'i.

The Wisdom behind changing the Qiblah

Allah then said:

﴿ وَمَا جَعَلۡنَا ٱلۡقِبۡلَةَ ٱلَّتِى كُنتَ عَلَيۡہَآ إِلَّا لِنَعۡلَمَ مَن يَتَّبِعُ ٱلرَّسُولَ مِمَّن يَنقَلِبُ عَلَىٰ عَقِبَيۡهِ‌ۚ وَإِن كَانَتۡ لَكَبِيرَةً إِلَّا عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ هَدَى ٱللَّهُ‌ۗ

(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). Indeed it was great (heavy, difficult) except for those whom Allah guided.)

Allah states thus: We have legislated for you, O Muhammad, facing Bayt Al-Maqdis at first and then changed it to the Ka`bah so as to find who will follow and obey you and thus face whatever you face.

﴿ مِمَّن يَنقَلِبُ عَلَىٰ عَقِبَيۡهِ‌ۚ

(...from those who would turn on their heels.) meaning, reverts from his religion. ﴿Allah then said:

﴿ وَإِن كَانَتۡ لَكَبِيرَةً

(Indeed it was great (heavy, difficult))

The Ayah indicates that changing the Qiblah from Bayt Al-Maqdis to the Ka`bah is heavy on the heart, except for whomever Allah has rightly guided their hearts, who believe in the truth of the Messenger with certainty and that whatever he was sent with is the truth without doubt. It is they who believe that Allah does what He wills, decides what He wills, commands His servants with what He wills, abrogates any of His commands that He wills, and that He has the perfect wisdom and the unequivocal proof in all this. (The attitude of the believers in this respect is) unlike those who have a disease in their hearts, to whom whenever a matter occurs, it causes doubts, just as this same matter adds faith and certainty to the believers. Similarly, Allah said:

﴿ وَإِذَا مَآ أُنزِلَتۡ سُورَةٌ۬ فَمِنۡهُم مَّن يَقُولُ أَيُّڪُمۡ زَادَتۡهُ هَـٰذِهِۦۤ إِيمَـٰنً۬ا‌ۚ فَأَمَّا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ فَزَادَتۡهُمۡ إِيمَـٰنً۬ا وَهُمۡ يَسۡتَبۡشِرُونَ وَأَمَّا ٱلَّذِينَ فِى قُلُوبِهِم مَّرَضٌ۬ فَزَادَتۡہُمۡ رِجۡسًا إِلَىٰ رِجۡسِهِمۡ

(And whenever there comes down a Surah (chapter from the Qur'an), some of them (hypocrites) say: "Which of you has had his faith increased by it'' As for those who believe, it has increased their faith, and they rejoice. But as for those in whose hearts is a disease (of doubt, disbelief and hypocrisy), it will add doubt and disbelief to their doubt and disbelief; and they die while they are disbelievers.) (9:124, 125)

and:

﴿ وَنُنَزِّلُ مِنَ ٱلۡقُرۡءَانِ مَا هُوَ شِفَآءٌ۬ وَرَحۡمَةٌ۬ لِّلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ‌ۙ وَلَا يَزِيدُ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ إِلَّا خَسَارً۬ا

(And We send down of the Qur'an that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe, and it increases the wrongdoers in nothing but loss.) (17:82)

Certainly, those who remained faithful to the Messenger , obeyed him and faced whatever Allah commanded them, without doubt or hesitation, were the leaders of the Companions. Some scholars stated that the Early Migrants (who migrated with the Prophet from Makkah to Al-Madinah) and Ansar (the residents of Al-Madinah who gave aid and refuge to both the Prophet and the Migrants) were those who offered prayers towards the two Qiblah (Bayt Al-Maqdis and then the Ka`bah). Al-Bukhari reported in the explanation of the Ayah (2:143) that Ibn `Umar narrated: While the people were performing the Fajr (Dawn) prayer in the Quba' Mosque, a man came and said, "Qur'an was revealed to the Prophet and he was ordered to face the Ka`bah. Therefore, face the Ka`bah.'' They then faced the Ka`bah. Muslim also recorded it.

At-Tirmidhi added that they were performing Ruku` (bowing down in prayer), and then changed the direction (of the Qiblah) to the Ka`bah while still bowing down. Muslim reported this last narration from Anas. These Hadiths all indicate the perfect obedience the Companions had for Allah and His Messenger and their compliance with Allah's commandments, may Allah be pleased with them all.

Allah said:

﴿ وَمَا كَانَ ٱللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَـٰنَكُمۡ‌ۚ

(And Allah would never make your faith (prayers) to be lost.) meaning, the reward of your prayers towards Bayt Al-Maqdis before would not be lost with Allah. It is reported in Sahih that Abu Ishaq As-Sabi`y related that Bara' narrated: "The people asked about the matter of those who offered prayers towards Bayt Al-Maqdis and died (before the Qiblah was changed to Ka`bah). Allah revealed:

﴿ وَمَا كَانَ ٱللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَـٰنَكُمۡ‌ۚ

(And Allah would never make your faith (prayers) to be lost.)''

It was also recorded by At-Tirmidhi from Ibn `Abbas, and At-Tirmidhi graded it Sahih.

Ibn Ishaq reported that Ibn `Abbas narrated:

﴿ وَمَا كَانَ ٱللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَـٰنَكُمۡ‌ۚ

(And Allah would never make your faith to be lost.) entails: Your (prayer towards) the first Qiblah and your believing your Prophet and obeying him by facing the second Qiblah; He will grant you the rewards for all these acts. Indeed,

﴿ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ بِٱلنَّاسِ لَرَءُوفٌ۬ رَّحِيمٌ۬

(Truly, Allah is full of kindness, the Most Merciful towards mankind.)''

Furthermore, it is reported in the Sahih that Allah's Messenger saw a woman among the captives who was separated from her child. Whenever she found a boy (infant) among the captives, she would hold him close to her chest, as she was looking for her boy. When she found her child, she embraced him and gave him her breast to nurse. Allah's Messenger said:

« أَتُرَوْنَ هذِهِ طَارِحَةً وَلَدَهَا فِي النَّارِ وَهِي تَقْدِرُ عَلى أَنْ لَا تَطْرَحَه؟ »
قَالُوا: لَا يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ. قَالَ:
« فَوَاللهِ للهُ أَرْحَمُ بِعِبَادِهِ مِنْ هذِهِ بِوَلَدِهَا »

(Do you think that this woman would willingly throw her son in the fire) They said, "No, O Messenger of Allah!'' He said, (By Allah! Allah is more merciful with His servants than this woman with her son.)

﴿ قَدۡ نَرَىٰ تَقَلُّبَ وَجۡهِكَ فِى ٱلسَّمَآءِ‌ۖ فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبۡلَةً۬ تَرۡضَٮٰهَا‌ۚ فَوَلِّ وَجۡهَكَ شَطۡرَ ٱلۡمَسۡجِدِ ٱلۡحَرَامِ‌ۚ وَحَيۡثُ مَا كُنتُمۡ فَوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمۡ شَطۡرَهُ ۥ‌ۗ وَإِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبَ لَيَعۡلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ ٱلۡحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمۡ‌ۗ وَمَا ٱللَّهُ بِغَـٰفِلٍ عَمَّا يَعۡمَلُونَ

(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).

The First Abrogation in the Qur'an was about the Qiblah

`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:

﴿ قَدۡ نَرَىٰ تَقَلُّبَ وَجۡهِكَ فِى ٱلسَّمَآءِ‌ۖ

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

﴿ فَوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمۡ شَطۡرَهُ ۥ‌ۗ

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

The Jews did not like this ruling and said:

﴿ مَا وَلَّٮٰهُمۡ عَن قِبۡلَتِہِمُ ٱلَّتِى كَانُواْ عَلَيۡهَا‌ۚ قُل لِّلَّهِ ٱلۡمَشۡرِقُ وَٱلۡمَغۡرِبُ‌ۚ

("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:

﴿ فَأَيۡنَمَا تُوَلُّواْ فَثَمَّ وَجۡهُ ٱللَّهِ‌ۚ

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

and:

﴿ وَمَا جَعَلۡنَا ٱلۡقِبۡلَةَ ٱلَّتِى كُنتَ عَلَيۡہَآ إِلَّا لِنَعۡلَمَ مَن يَتَّبِعُ ٱلرَّسُولَ مِمَّن يَنقَلِبُ عَلَىٰ عَقِبَيۡهِ‌ۚ

(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:

﴿ فَوَلِّ وَجۡهَكَ شَطۡرَ ٱلۡمَسۡجِدِ ٱلۡحَرَامِ‌ۚ

(...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:

﴿ وَحَيۡثُ مَا كُنتُمۡ فَوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمۡ شَطۡرَهُ ۥ‌ۗ

(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:

﴿ وَإِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبَ لَيَعۡلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ ٱلۡحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمۡ‌ۗ

(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:

﴿ وَمَا ٱللَّهُ بِغَـٰفِلٍ عَمَّا يَعۡمَلُونَ

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

﴿ وَلَٮِٕنۡ أَتَيۡتَ ٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبَ بِكُلِّ ءَايَةٍ۬ مَّا تَبِعُواْ قِبۡلَتَكَ‌ۚ وَمَآ أَنتَ بِتَابِعٍ۬ قِبۡلَتَہُمۡ‌ۚ وَمَا بَعۡضُهُم بِتَابِعٍ۬ قِبۡلَةَ بَعۡضٍ۬‌ۚ وَلَٮِٕنِ ٱتَّبَعۡتَ أَهۡوَآءَهُم مِّنۢ بَعۡدِ مَا جَآءَكَ مِنَ ٱلۡعِلۡمِ‌ۙ إِنَّكَ إِذً۬ا لَّمِنَ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ

(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.)