If Kaaba was the first house of worship, why did Prophet Muhammed start out by praying towards Al Masjid Ala Aqsa in Palestine?

Despite the Kaaba in Makkah= Mecca is the first house of God made on the earth, why should the Prophet peace be upon him prayed toward it?

There are many verses and hadiths in this regard, among them are:

Narration 1:

It is reported that when the Holy Prophet peace be upon him was in Mecca, Allah (swt) had commanded Him to face Jerusalem in prayer and when possible, to keep the Kaaba between himself and Jerusalem and when you cannot do so, keep your face towards Jerusalem.

Hence the Holy Prophet peace be upon him acted on this command for thirteen years till he was in Mecca and after coming to Medina also he continued to face Baitul Maqdas for seventeen months and did not face the Kaaba.

Some mischievous Jews said to each other: By Allah, Muhammed does not know how to pray. Till now he faces our Qibla and prays in our style.

Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him did not like their gossip and disapproved of their Qibla, preferring Kaaba. When Jibril Amin arrived, Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him said: I would very much like if the Almighty Allah changed the Qibla from Jerusalem to Kaaba, because whatever I heard from Jews about Qibla, hurts me.

Jibraeel (peace upon him) said: Allah’s Messenger, request Allah to change the Qibla, Allah will accept your request and fulfill your desire. At last, his prayer was accepted and again Jibril peace be upon him came from Allah and said: O Muhammed peace be upon him read:

“Indeed We see the turning of your face to heaven, so We shall surely turn you to a Qibla which you shall like; turn then your face towards the Sacred Mosque, and wherever you are, turn your face towards it, and those who have been given the Book most surely know that it is the truth from their Lord; and Allah is not at all heedless of what they do.”

Qur’an [539]

When Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him turned to Kaaba, the Jews criticized him and said (the words they said: Allah says in Quran):

What has turned them from their Qibla which they had?[540]

Simply: What made the Muslims turn away from Jerusalem, facing which they used to pray previously?

Allah gave them a good answer.

Hence Allah says:

The East and the West belong only to Allah… [541]

He guides whom He likes to the right path.[542]

He guides whom He likes to the right path and their obedience takes them to Paradise.

A group of Jews came to Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him and said: O Muhammed, you prayed facing Jerusalem for fourteen years and left it now.

Because if it was lawful, by leaving it, you have gone to falsehood, because that which is against truth is only falsehood. If it were false, you had been on a wrong path till that period, so we can’t believe we are wrong.

Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him said: The previous matter was right, and this is also right, because Allah says:

Say: The East and the West belong only to Allah; He guides whom He likes to the right path.[543]

Simply: Say O Muhammed, the East, and the West (both) belong to Allah only. He guides whom He likes, to the right path. O who you believe! When He feels advisable to turn your face to the East, He commands to turn your face to East and when He feels advisable to turn your face to West, He commands to do so.

And by expediency, He can also command you to turn in another direction instead of these two. Hence do not be a disbeliever in Allah’s expediency.

After that Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him said: O Jews! Previously you abstained from work on Saturdays, then you started doing it, then again you left it and again started. Now, tell me, you gave up truth and chose the wrong or you gave up wrong and chose the truth or you gave up one wrong thing and chose another wrong or gave up one right thing and chose another right?

Now whatever is your reply to my objection, the same will be my answer.

The Jews said: First it was lawful to work on Saturdays and after that to work on Saturday was also lawful. Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him said: In the same way, taking Jerusalem as Qibla was lawful in the beginning. Now taking Kaaba as Qibla is lawful this time.

After that the Jews said: You think that Allah first ordered you to pray facing Jerusalem and then to face Kaaba. In that case He changed His mind.

Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him said: He didn’t change His mind because He knows the results and is powerful on expediencies and He do not make any mistake and does not setup any opinion against the first opinion. He is free of and above all this.

Also, nothing prevents Him from doing what He likes. Only a person having these qualities must change his mind. But Allah is free from all this. After that he said:

O Jews, see, Allah makes you ill and then cures you. Again, sometimes He makes you ill, so it means that He changes His mind. He makes us alive and makes us die; now was there change of mind in these two cases?

They said: No. Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him said: In the same way, Allah commanded Muhammed to pray facing Jerusalem and after that to face Kaaba. There was no change of mind on His part. After that he said: Allah sends summer and winter alternatively, so does it mean that He goes on changing His mind? They said: No.

Then the Prophet peace be upon him said: In the same way there was no correction of divine command in the case of Qibla also. After that the Prophet said: Allah made it compulsory for you to wear woolen clothes in winter and for summer He issued a contrary command, does it mean that He corrected His stance?

They said: No. The Prophet said: See, in the same way, at one time He made you serve Him in one way according to expediency and at another time He asked you to serve Him in another way. In both circumstances you became eligible for divine rewards. At this time Allah sent His revelation:

And Allah’s is the East and the West, therefore, whither you turn, thither is Allah’s purpose. [544]

After that the Prophet peace, be upon him said: O people, suppose you are a patient and Allah is like a doctor and only that is better for the patient that the doctor prescribes and not that in which the patient puts him into doubt and himself requests the people: Know that, leave Allah’s work to Allah, you will succeed in that and reach what you aim for.

[Source: Tafseer-e-Askari, Surah Baqarah, Verse 106-107]

Narration 2:

Someone asked Imam Taqi (as): O son of Allah’s Messenger, why was Baitul Maqdas made the first Qibla?

Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him replied: Allah Himself mentions the reason:

And We did not make that which you would have to be the Qibla but that We might distinguish him who follows the Apostle from him who turns back upon his heels. [545]

Simply: And We made Baitul Maqdas the Qibla, which you faced previously, to know who follows Our Messenger and who turns on both his heels (that disobeys the Messenger). As We knew from before what would happen later.

Its story is that the Meccans preferred Kaaba, so Allah decided to see who follows Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him and who are against him. In such a way that in spite of their aversion, if they obey the orders of Muhammed peace be upon him, it would mean that they are obedient, otherwise they would have been his opponents.

Whereas the people of Medina preferred Jerusalem. That is why, they were asked to oppose it and face the Kaaba, so that it may be known who despite his aversion follows the order of Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him. Thus, one who does so, would be his supporter and obedient one.

Thus, Allah says: “And this was surely hard except for those whom Allah has guided aright. [546]

Simply:

Although at that time it was difficult for them to face Baitul Maqdas=Almsjid Al Aqsa in Jerusalem; but those whom Allah guided were not in this condition.

This shows that Allah wants the people to obey Him even though they may have to act their own likes and wishes so that their obedience against selfish desires may be tested.

[Source: Tafseer-e-Askari, Surah Baqarah, Quran (2:106-107)

Allah knows Best

Almighty Allah is the highest and most knowledgeable, and the attribution of knowledge to him is the safest.

Right from Almighty Allah and wrong from me and Satan

Prepared by Mohamad Mostafa Nassar- Australia.

www.IslamCompass.com 

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Arrogance is not only a sign of insecurity, but also a sign of immaturity. Mature and fully realised persons can get their points across, even emphatically without demeaning or intimidating others.