(143) وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُواْ شُهَدَاء عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا وَمَا جَعَلْنَا الْقِبْلَةَ الَّتِي كُنتَ عَلَيْهَا إِلاَّ لِنَعْلَمَ مَن يَتَّبِعُ الرَّسُولَ مِمَّن يَنقَلِبُ عَلَى عَقِبَيْهِ وَإِن كَانَتْ لَكَبِيرَةً إِلاَّ عَلَى الَّذِينَ هَدَى اللّهُ وَمَا كَانَ اللّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَانَكُمْ إِنَّ اللّهَ بِالنَّاسِ لَرَؤُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ
143. "And thus have we made you an ummat of midding stand that you may be witnesses over mankind, and the messenger may be (a) witness over you. we did not make the (former) Qiblah (direction of prayer) towards which you were facing at, except that we might distinguish him who follows the messengerfrom him who truns back upon his heels; it was indeed hard except for those whom Allah has guided. Allah would never let your faith be wasted - truly Allah is to mankind Most Affectionate, Most Merciful."
An Ummat of Middle Standing
In this verse a part of the philosophy and secret of the change of the Qiblah is referred to.
At first it says:
A nation that is a medium one from any aspect, viz. it is in a state that is neither in excess nor defect and can be brought forth as an example.
But, why is the Mslims' Qiblah a middle one? Haply, it is
because most of the christians were living in countries west of their Qiblah. In order to stand towards the directon of the birthplace of Jesus which was located in jerusalem they had to stand nearly towards the direction of the East. Therefore the East was considered the direction of their Qiblah. The Jews, who mostly were living in syria, Babylon and the like, preyed towards Jerusalem which was located nearly in the west for them. Hence, the west was considered the direction of their Qiblah. But, for the Muslims of that time (Muslims is Medina) , the Ka'bah was located in the south, between the East and the west which, thereby, was considered a middle ground.
All of those meaning, in fact, are understood from the phrase wakaoalika / ' and thus ' stated in the verse, the Qur'an, however, apparently, may intend to refer to the position of all Islamic programs and that not only the Muslims' Qiblah is middle standing but also in all other aspects they have this specialty.
Then, it adds:
"...that you may be witnesses over mankind, and the Messenger may be (a) witness over you. ..."
The expression of the Muslims being ' witnesses ' over the people of the world, and the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) bearing ' witness ' over the Muslims may be an insinuation to ' being as a model ', since witnesses are always chosen from the eligible ones. Thus, the purpose might be that you (Muslims) , with these instructions and this creed, are a model nation, as the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) is a model among you.
You, by your deeds and behaviour bear witness that a man can be both a man of action and a man of religion while he is living in this very world. He, being sociable, can quite properly protect the limits of his spiritual and moral aspects. Portraying these thoughts and activities, you bear witness that not only there is no contradictions between religion and science, or the present world and the coming world, but they serve one another.
Then, the Qur'an has pointed to one of the secrets of the change of the Qiblah when it says:
"...We did not make the (former) Qiblah (direction of prayer) towards which you were facing at, except that We might distinguish him who
follows the Messenger from him who turns back upon his heels; ..."
It is interesting that the Qur'an does not say: ' him who follows you ' but it says: ' him who follows the Messenger ' which confirms the fact that you (Muhammad) are commissioned by the Lord and you are a guide. So, they must be obedient to your command in all things. In this relation, the change of the Qiblah is simple; if the command were beyond that, it should be obeyed and their seeking pretext in it is a sign of their holding on to the customs of the age of paganism and idol worshipping.
The Quranic phrase "from him who turns back upon his heels" which originally means ' to turn on ones heel ' is a hint to a kind of retrograde manner or retrogression.
Yes, the soul of absolute submission to the command of Allah will not come to being unless there is Divine Guidance. This is an important matter, that one ought to be so submissive that he does not feel in his self even the slightest heaviness for the execution of such commandments; on the contrary, because it is from Allah, he embraces it willingly and eagerly.
Since the seductive enemies or the ignorant friends thought that with the change of the Qiblah our services would become futile and our reward be wasted, at the end of the verse it says:
"...Allah would never let your Faith be wasted truly Allah is to mankind Most Affectionate, Most Merciful."
Allah's commandments are issued as prescriptions for the purpose of our remedy; then one day this one is useful and the next, something else. Each of them in its proper place is the best to provide our felicity, prosperity, and development. Thus, the change of the Qiblah should not create any anxiety for you about your former prayers and worshippings nor those in the future, because all of them have been right and proper.