Sufiyan Bashir (Nice, France) wrote “Masjid al-Qiblatain (mosque of the two qiblas) is a separate mosque and is allegedly the location in which the incident of the qibla switch took place that is emphatically captured by verse 2:144.”
I would like to state that the “qiblah switch” in 2:144 which was not a physical realignment from Jerusalem to Mecca, [the story written in the ‘historical’ accounts], but the change in the way of life ordained by Allah, from the corrupted practices that humanity had, to the noble truths of the Quran. The important words of 2:144 are highlighted to show what we must focus our attention on in order to understand what is being discussed:-
2:144 We have seen your eagerness (O Messenger), therefore, We now make you turn to the Qiblah that is dear to you (for its Sublime objective). Hence, keep your Purpose focused on the Masjid of Security, and all of you believers, wherever you are, keep your Purpose focused toward it. AND INDEED, THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE SCRIPTURE BEFORE KNOW THAT THIS (REVELATION) IS THE TRUTH FROM THEIR LORD. And God is not unaware of what they do.
2:145 Even if you were to place all evidence (verses) together to the People of the Book, they will not follow your Qiblah, and neither may you follow their Qiblah, nor will they even follow each other’s Qiblah. If you followed their errant views after the knowledge has come to you, you will surely be among the wrongdoers.
This is further evidenced by the previous verse which is about the Message that is the direction that Allah wants us to all go in/follow:-
2:143 Thus We have made you a Balanced Community that you might be witnesses to all mankind, and the Messenger a witness over yourselves. It is We Who have appointed the Direction that you have now adopted (O Messenger) in order to distinguish him who follows the Messenger, from him who turns about on his heels. In fact, it has been a momentous change except for those who follow God’s Guidance. For, it is never God’s purpose to let your faith go vain. Indeed, God is the eternal Source of Compassion and Mercy to all mankind.
[Ummah = Community = Specifically, the Community based on Divine Ideology. ‘Turns about on his heels’ = Goes back to his old ways = Succumbs to traditional beliefs. 2:142, 4:88, 29:25]
We may have someone quoting the previous verse to this which is rendered by Dr Saab as:-
2:142 Those of little understanding among people say, “What has turned them from their Qiblah which they (the Jews) were used to? Say, “Unto God belong East and West. He guides to the Straight Path whoever wills (to be guided).”
[Qiblah = Center of devotion = Symbol of uniform Ideology = Center for the unity of mankind. The Children of Israel have considered Jerusalem as their Center of devotion. But God is the Lord of all humanity. He makes no distinction between Jews and Gentiles. And now the Qur’an invites all mankind to become one community. His Final Message is not confined to a particular tribe, nation or group of people. Ka’bah erected by Abraham, the first ever House of monotheism, has now been appointed as the Qiblah for all humanity. 2:213, 3:96, 4:170, 6:91-92, 7:158, 10:19, 12:104, 21:107, 22:49, 34:28, 38:87, 57:25, 114:1]
It seems to suggest that the “qiblah” is a change from the centre of devotion in Jerusalem to the Kaabah. But the words “Unto God belong East and West. He guides to the Straight Path whoever wills (to be guided)” throws the compass point qiblah out of the window and makes us think that it is not about a physical place but an ideological change. I have not seen a verse in the Quran that states that Allah had chosen Jerusalem as a centre for the Jews [as the Bible does], so to prove my point we can go back further to see what the disagreement was between the Jews and the new Muslims on the block:-
2:136 (O You who have chosen to believe) Say, “We believe in God, and the Revelation that has been given to us, and (the surviving Truth) in what was sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, as well as the Tribal Israelite prophets - and in what was given to Moses and Jesus and to all prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction among them (since all of them were one in Purpose and they got their Guidance from the One True God). And for Him, we are Muslims.”
2:137 So if they come to believe as you believe, then they will be rightly guided. But if they turn away, then they are in opposition (to the Message of the aforementioned prophets). However, God will suffice you, for, He is All Hearing, All Knowing.
2:139 Say (to the People of the Book), “Do you argue with us concerning God? But He is our Lord as well as your Lord – and we are responsible for our deeds and you are responsible for your deeds; and to Him alone we are devoted.”
We can see that some of the Jews rejected the new revised and purified Revelation of Allah to humanity, the Quran, and wanted to stay fixed with their contaminated books and manmade practices. The change of direction from this way of life to the ‘deen’ of Allah was rejected by them.
See how the following verse confirms that there is no physical element to our 'devotion':-
2:177 (One consequence of this schism is their pre-occupation with rituals, with each sect leaving the Revelation aside and taking delight in its own set of dogmas they call religion. 30:320.)
Righteousness and exponential development of the ‘self’ depends not on whether you turn your faces to East or West.