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Why was Qibla changed from Baitul Muqaddas to Khana-e-Kaaba??

Narration 1:

It is reported that when the Holy Prophet (saww) 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 (saww) 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, Muhammad does not know how to pray. Till now he faces our Qibla and prays in our style. 

His Eminence (saww) did not like their gossip and disapproved their Qibla, preferring Kaaba. When Jibraeel Amin arrived, His Eminence (saww) said: I would like very much if the Almighty Allah changes the Qibla from Jerusalem to Kaaba, because whatever I heard from Jews about Qibla, hurts me. 

Jibraeel (as) 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 Jibraeel (as) came from Allah and said: O Muhammad (saww) read:

Indeed We see the turning of your face to heaven, so We shall surely turn you to a qiblah 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.[539]

When His Eminence (saww) turned to Kaaba, the Jews criticized him and said (the words they said: Allah says in Quran):

What has turned them from their qiblah 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 His Eminence (saww) and said: O Muhammad, 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. 

His Eminence (s.a.w.s.) 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 Muhammad, 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 other direction instead of these two. Hence do not be a disbeliever in Allah’s expediency.

After that His Eminence (saww) 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. His Eminence (s.a.w.s.) 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. 

His Eminence (s.a.w.s.) 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 has to 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. Then His Eminence (s.a.w.s.) said: In the same way, Allah commanded Muhammad 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 (s.a.w.s.) 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 (s.a.) 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, Sura Baqara, Verse 106-107]  

Narration 2:

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

His Eminence (a.s.) replied: Allah Himself mentions the reason:

…and We did not make that which you would have to be the qiblah 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 is 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 His Eminence and who are against him. In such a way that in spite of their aversion, if they obey the orders of Muhammad (saww), 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 inspite of his aversion follows the order of Muhammad. 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: Inspite of the fact that at that time it was difficult for them to face Baitul Maqdas; 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, Sura Baqara, Verse 106-107]