Quran's Tafhim ( explanation)

*123). A fresh subject is now broached. In order to appreciate it fully, the following should be clearly borne in mind:
(1) After Noah, Abraham was the first Prophet appointed by God to spread the universal message of Islam. At the outset, he journeyed for many years from Iraq to Egypt, and from Syria and Palestine to various parts of Arabia inviting people to serve and obey God. Later he appointed deputies in various regions to carry on his mission. He sent his nephew Lot to Transjordan, his son Isaac to Syria and Palestine, and his eldest son Ishmael to Arabia. Then he built, in Makka, the shrine called the Ka'bah which subsequently, and under God's own command, was made the centre of the prophetic mission.
(2) Abraham's progeny descended in two main branches. One of these, the Children of Ishmael, lived in Arabia. The Quraysh and other Arabian tribes belonged to this branch of Abraham's line. Even those Arabian tribes which were not related to him by blood identified themselves with Abraham, since they had been influenced in varying degrees by his religious ideas. The other branch consisted of the Children of Isaac. In this branch there arose a great number of Prophets, for example Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon, John, and Jesus. Since Jacob was called Israel, his offspring came to be known as the Children of Israel. Other peoples who accepted their faith as a result of preaching either lost their former identity and became assimilated with them, or remained separate from them ethnically but identified with them religiously. At the time when decadence flourished this branch of the Abrahamic family gave birth first to Judaism, and subsequently to Christianity.*
(3) The true mission of Abraham was to invite people to obey God and to mould the entire system of individual and collective life according to Divine Guidance. He was himself obedient to God and followed the teaching received from Him, and constantly strove to spread it and make all human beings live in obedience to it. It was because of this that he was appointed the religious leader and guide of the whole world. After his death, the task of guiding the world was entrusted to the branch which had issued from Isaac and Jacob, and which came to be known as the Children of Israel. It is in this branch that many Prophets were born. It was also this branch which was given the knowledge of the Straight Way, and was designated to lead all the nations of the world along that Way. It is of this favour that God again and again reminds these people.
In the time of Solomon this branch took Jerusalem as the centre of its mission. Jerusalem maintained its central position for all devotees of God and remained the qiblah (direction) in which all worshippers of God were required to turn in their Prayer.
(4) While addressing the Children of Israel in the last ten sections, God set forth the criminal record of the Jews, exposed their decadent state at the time of the revelation of the Qur'an, and made it clear to them that they had totally lacked gratitude to God for His favours and bounties. Not only had they ceased to guide the world, but had turned away from Truth and righteousness to such an extent that nearly all of them had lost the capacity to do good and to respond to Truth.
(5) It is also intimated that the religious leadership of all mankind is not an exclusive privilege of Abrahamic blood, but rather the fruit of Abraham's sincere obedience and service to God, to which he had wholly consecrated himself. Only those who follow the way of Abraham, and guide the world along that way, are therefore entitled to the position of guidance and leadership. And since the Jews had abandoned it and become incapable of carrying out the mission of Abraham they were being removed from that position.
(6) At the same time it is hinted that the non-Israelite peoples who identified themselves with Abraham through Moses and Jesus had also veered from the way of Abraham. The same was true of the polytheists of Arabia, who felt proud of belonging to Abraham and Ishmael and based this pride on lineage alone. For, so far as their faith and conduct were concerned, they had not even the remotest tie with Abraham and Ishmael. They did not deserve, therefore, to be entrusted with the religious leadership of the world.
(7) It is also made clear that by God's will a Prophet, for whose advent Abraham and Ishmael had once prayed, was born in the other branch of the Abrahamic family, i.e. the Ishmaelites. The way propounded by this Prophet is exactly the same as that by Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob and in fact all the Messengers. His followers also confirm the truth of all those designated in the past to serve as God's Messengers, and call mankind to the same message those Messengers preached earlier. Thus, leadership now naturally devolves on those who follow this Prophet.
(8) This proclamation of a transfer of leadership naturally called for the proclamation of a change in the direction of Prayer. As long as the Israelites held the reins of the world's religious leadership, Jerusalem remained the centre of the mission of Islam and the qiblah of truth-loving people. The Arabian Prophet (peace be on him) as well as his followers had accepted Jerusalem as the qiblah until God duly proclaimed the removal of the Jews from their position of leadership. With this proclamation Jerusalem ceased to enjoy its central position. So it was proclaimed that from then on the centre of God's true religion would be the place from which the message of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) had radiated. Since in the past it had been the centre of the mission of Abraham (peace be on him), it was difficult even for the polytheists and for the People of the Book to deny that the Ka'bah had a greater right to be made the qiblah. There was thus every reasonable ground for the decision to change the qiblah and its opponents could only object out of irrational adamance.
(9) The proclamation that the followers ef the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) had been designated to the religious leadership of mankind, and that the Ka'bah would now be the focal point of man's religious life, was followed by directives (beginning with verse 153 and continuing to the end of the surah) addressed to the Muslims. These directives were aimed at enabling the Muslims to acquit themselves creditably of the duties laid upon their shoulders as the bearers of this mission.
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