English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)
by Maulana Muhammad Ali
Chapter 2: Al-Baqarah — The Cow (Revealed at Madinah: 40 sections, 286 verses)
Section 18 (Verses 2:148–2:152): The Kabah as the Spiritual Centre
وَ لِکُلٍّ وِّجۡہَۃٌ ہُوَ مُوَلِّیۡہَا فَاسۡتَبِقُوا الۡخَیۡرٰتِ ؕ اَیۡنَ مَا تَکُوۡنُوۡا یَاۡتِ بِکُمُ اللّٰہُ جَمِیۡعًا ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ عَلٰی کُلِّ شَیۡءٍ قَدِیۡرٌ ﴿۱۴۸﴾
2:148 And everyone has a goal to which he turns (himself), so vie with one another in good works.1 Wherever you are, Allah will bring you all together. Surely Allah is Powerful over all things.
وَ مِنۡ حَیۡثُ خَرَجۡتَ فَوَلِّ وَجۡہَکَ شَطۡرَ الۡمَسۡجِدِ الۡحَرَامِ ؕ وَ اِنَّہٗ لَلۡحَقُّ مِنۡ رَّبِّکَ ؕ وَ مَا اللّٰہُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا تَعۡمَلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۴۹﴾
2:149 And from whatsoever place you come forth, turn your face towards the Sacred Mosque.2 And surely it is the truth from your Lord. And Allah is not heedless of what you do.
وَ مِنۡ حَیۡثُ خَرَجۡتَ فَوَلِّ وَجۡہَکَ شَطۡرَ الۡمَسۡجِدِ الۡحَرَامِ ؕ وَ حَیۡثُ مَا کُنۡتُمۡ فَوَلُّوۡا وُجُوۡہَکُمۡ شَطۡرَہٗ ۙ لِئَلَّا یَکُوۡنَ لِلنَّاسِ عَلَیۡکُمۡ حُجَّۃٌ ٭ۙ اِلَّا الَّذِیۡنَ ظَلَمُوۡا مِنۡہُمۡ ٭ فَلَا تَخۡشَوۡہُمۡ وَ اخۡشَوۡنِیۡ ٭ وَ لِاُتِمَّ نِعۡمَتِیۡ عَلَیۡکُمۡ وَ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تَہۡتَدُوۡنَ ﴿۱۵۰﴾ۙۛ
2:150 And from whatsoever place you come forth, turn your face towards the Sacred Mosque. And wherever you are, turn your faces towards it, so that people may have no plea against you except such of them as are unjust — so do not fear them and fear Me — and that I may complete My favour to you and that you may go aright.3
کَمَاۤ اَرۡسَلۡنَا فِیۡکُمۡ رَسُوۡلًا مِّنۡکُمۡ یَتۡلُوۡا عَلَیۡکُمۡ اٰیٰتِنَا وَ یُزَکِّیۡکُمۡ وَ یُعَلِّمُکُمُ الۡکِتٰبَ وَ الۡحِکۡمَۃَ وَ یُعَلِّمُکُمۡ مَّا لَمۡ تَکُوۡنُوۡا تَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ﴿۱۵۱﴾ؕۛ
2:151 Even as We have sent among you a Messenger from among you, who recites to you Our messages and purifies you and teaches you the Book and the Wisdom and teaches you what you did not know.4
فَاذۡکُرُوۡنِیۡۤ اَذۡکُرۡکُمۡ وَ اشۡکُرُوۡا لِیۡ وَ لَا تَکۡفُرُوۡنِ ﴿۱۵۲﴾٪
2:152 Therefore glorify Me, I will make you eminent,5 and give thanks to Me and do not be ungrateful to Me.
- In making the Ka‘bah the Spiritual Centre the Muslims are told that their goal, as a nation, is to lead the world on to the greatest good. Their race is not a race for material benefits, riches or power, but a race for the attainment of good and for the spread of good. Hence they must vie with one another in doing good. In the words that follow — wherever you are, Allah will bring you all together — they are told that they will be spread far and wide in the world, yet their goal must be one. The outward unity of the qiblah stands for their unity of purpose, and it forms the basis on which rests the brotherhood of Islam; hence the saying of the Prophet: “Do not call those who follow your qiblah unbelievers”. ↩
- The Ka‘bah has never been supposed by any Muslim to possess any Divine attribute. The Muslims honour the Ka‘bah because it is their Spiritual Centre; they do not worship it. It should also be borne in mind that the famous Black Stone was not one of the Arab idols, nor can the kissing of it in performing the pilgrimage be looked upon as a remnant of idolatry. That Stone stands only as a monument: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone” (Psalms, 118:22). Ishmael was looked upon as rejected, and the covenant was considered to have been made with the children of Isaac, yet it was that rejected stone, for which the Black Stone at the Ka‘bah stands as a monument, that was to become “the chief cornerstone”. Jesus Christ made this clear in the parable of the husbandmen, when he plainly told the Israelites that the vineyard (i.e., the kingdom of God) would be taken away from them and given to “other husbandmen”, i.e. to a non-Israelite people, giving indication of that people in the words: “Have you never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone?” (Matthew, 21:42). And he added: “The kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it” (Matthew, 21:43), thus showing that he was referring to a rejected nation which was to become the corner-stone of the Divine kingdom. ↩
- By completing of favour is meant the bestowing of spiritual favours on the Muslims. In the next verse they are told that they have been raised to carry the Divine message to other people and to purify them and teach them the Book and the Wisdom. If that message was not conveyed to other people they had a plea against the Muslims that they had not conveyed the Truth to them. The turning of the face to the Sacred Mosque is thus equivalent to proclaiming the Truth which had its origin in the Ka‘bah to the whole world. The Ka‘bah was the house rebuilt by Abraham and Ishmael, and with prophethood now being transferred to the descendants of Ishmael, the Spiritual Centre had necessarily to be changed. The Ka‘bah was moreover the first Spiritual Centre of the world (3:96), and it was in the fitness of things that it should be the last Spiritual Centre of the whole world. ↩
- The reference is to Abraham’s prayer in v. 129. The functions of the Promised Prophet there are exactly the same as here. ↩
- These words may be translated either as remember Me I will remember you or as glorify Me I will make you eminent, for the word dhikr carries either significance, remembrance or honouring. Adopting either significance, what is stated here is that if the Muslims keep God in the forefront of their programme, they will be made great as a nation. ↩