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Quran Chapter 2 [part 7] - The Cow - The Religion of Abraham, A New Direction

133 Were you [Jews] there to see when death came upon Jacob? When he said to his sons, ‘What will you worship after I am gone?’ they replied, ‘We shall worship your God and the God of your fathers, Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac, one single God: we devote ourselves to Him.’ [a] 134 That community passed away. What they earned belongs to them, and what you earn belongs to you: you will not be answerable for their deeds.

135 They say, ‘Become Jews or Christians, and you will be rightly guided.’ Say [Prophet], ‘No, [ours is] the religion of Abraham, the upright, who did not worship any god besides God.’ 136 So [you believers], say, ‘We believe in God and in what was sent down to us and what was sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and what was given to Moses, Jesus, and all the prophets by their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we devote ourselves to Him.’ 137 So if they believe like you do, they will be rightly guided. But if they turn their backs, then they will be entrenched in opposition. God will protect you from them: He is the All Hearing, the All Knowing. And say [believers], 138 ‘[Our life] takes its color from God, and who gives a better color than God? It is Him we worship.’

139 Say [Prophet] [to the Jews and Christians], ‘How can you argue with us about God when He is our Lord and your Lord? Our deeds belong to us, and yours to you. We devote ourselves entirely to Him. 140 Or are you saying that Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes were Jews or Christians?’ [Prophet], ask them, ‘Who knows better: you or God? Who could be more wicked than those who hide a testimony [they received] from God? God is not unmindful of what you do.’ 141 That community passed away: what they earned belongs to them, and what you earn belongs to you. You will not be answerable for their deeds.

142 The foolish people will say, ‘What has turned them away from the prayer direction they used to face?’ [b] Say, ‘East and West belong to God. He guides whoever He will to the right way.’ 143 We have made you [believers] into a just community, [c] so that you may bear witness [to the truth] before others and so that the Messenger may bear witness [to it] before you. We only made the direction the one you used to face [Prophet] in order to distinguish those who follow the Messenger from those who turn on their heels: that test was hard, except for those God has guided. God would never let your faith go to waste [believers],c for God is most compassionate and most merciful towards people. 144 Many a time We have seen you [Prophet] turn your face towards Heaven, so We are turning you towards a prayer direction that pleases you. a Turn your face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque: wherever you [believers] may be, turn your faces to it. Those who were given the Scripture know with certainty that this is the Truth from their Lord: God is not unaware of what they do. 145 Yet even if you brought every proof to those who were given the Scripture, they would not follow your prayer direction, nor will you follow theirs, nor indeed will any of them follow one another’s direction. If you [Prophet] were to follow their desires, after the knowledge brought to you, you would be doing wrong.

A New Direction

146 Those We gave Scripture know it as well as they know their own sons, but some of them hide the truth that they know. 147 The truth is from your Lord, so do not be one of those who doubt. 148 Each community has its own direction to which it turns: race to do good deeds and wherever you are, God will bring you together. [d] God has power to do everything.

149 [Prophet], wherever you may have started out, turn your face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque– this is the truth from your Lord: He is not unaware of what you do– 150 wherever you may have started out, turn your face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque; wherever any of you may be, turn your faces towards it, so that people may have no argument against you [e] – except for the wrongdoers among them: do not fear them; fear Me– and so that I may perfect My favour on you and you may be guided, 151 just as We [f] have sent among you a Messenger of your own to recite Our revelations to you, purify you and teach you the Scripture, wisdom, and [other] things you did not know. 152 So remember Me; I will remember you. Be thankful to Me, and never ungrateful.

153 You who believe, seek help through steadfastness and prayer, for God is with the steadfast. 154 Do not say that those who are killed in God’s cause are dead; they are alive, though you do not realize it.


a. ‘One single God’ reinforces the interpretation of islam as ‘devotion’, one meaning of aslama (al-Mujam al-Wasit).

b. This refers to the change in the Muslims’ prayer direction from Jerusalem to Mecca in the second year of the Hijra. b Literally ‘a middle nation’. c This reassured those who asked whether the prayers said towards Jerusalem had been wasted.

c. The Prophet secretly hoped to be allowed to face the Mosque in Mecca in prayer, as it was so dear to him, being built by Abraham and Ishmael, as seen from verse 127 onwards.

d. On the Day of Judgement, cf. 5: 48.

e. Both Jews and polytheists questioned the choice of qibla (prayer direction) for their own reasons.

f. Note the shift in pronoun from singular to plural of majesty (see Introduction, p. xx).

The Qur'an (Oxford World's Classics)

The Qur'an / a new translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem, copyright © 2004 Oxford World's Classics (Oxford University Press). Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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