You need to look at the CONTEXT of what is being discussed in the Quran around every verse you are trying to understand.
You ignore the 99% of what Parwez says about a topic, the values, the meaning of words and what they try to do to us by undertaking them, and elevate the last part, the 1% discussing the 'ritual, attached to them. I do the opposite and reject the 1% and try to do what Allah wants us to do, FOLLOW HIS GUIDANCE.
Parwez "this shows that qiblah is actually the symbol of religion or deen and following the qiblah means following the particular deen." If this does not grab you by the forlock then I am wasting my time, but here goes anyway:
If you want a relevant example of what can happen to a concept then jihad, Manchester, is one. Fighting as a last resort to defend human rights, becomes fighting at any cost to kill the kufar! Emphasizing the fighting but not not the striving to establish peace and justice within oneself and society is the most graphic way what you are doing.
Qiblah means to follow a particular way of life. In Islam it means to keep your attention or direction towards Deen.
The only reason why we would ‘face’ the Kaabah is when there is a Central Islamic Authority established there that issues regulations based upon the Quran. We would not physically face the Kaabah; we would look towards it for guidelines, guidance.
The Jews and the Christians would not be happy unless you followed their misguidance, so telling them to bow down towards the Kaabah as opposed to Jerusalem or Rome is a mute point.
2:120 Yet, never will the Jews be pleased with you, nor will the Christians, unless you follow their form of religion. Say, “God’s Guidance - it is the only Guidance.” And if you follow their wishes and errant views after the Knowledge that has come to you, then you will find no ally or helper against God. [7:3, 10:109, 13:37. It is not a matter of my religion or your religion. Al-Qur’an is the updated, unadulterated Message from the same Creator Who revealed the previous Scriptures]
You quoted some verses around 2:142 so now read what led up to this.
Surah 2 verses135-153.
2:135 They say, “Be Jews or Christians, then you will be guided.” Say, “Nay! Ours is the Creed of Abraham the upright. He turned away from all that is false, and he was not an idolater in any sense.”
[And he was neither a Jew nor a Christian (3:67). Mushrik = Idolater = Pagan = Anyone who ascribes divinity to other than the One True God = Who associates partners with Him = Who prefers manmade tenets = Who worships idols in any form such as statues, own desire, forces of Nature, any of God’s creation = One who uncritically follows what others do = A blind follower = One who considers men as authorities instead of the Divine Revelation = Anyone who makes lists of Halaal (Permissible) and Haraam (Forbidden) from outside the Qur’an = One who believes in clergy against the Divine Revelation = Who adores saints, political or religious leaders = Who bows or prostrates physically or mentally before a creation = Who promotes books, dogmas and tenets contrary to the Qur’an. Shirk = The act of being a Mushrik]
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.”
[About my interpolation ‘the surviving Truth’, see 2:101. Asbaat = The prophets raised among the twelve Israelite Tribes, frequently called the Patriarchs. ‘No distinction’ = All of them were commissioned by God and they were one in Purpose, although their times and places varied. They were given the Message emphasizing the social needs of their respective nations. Humanity is now able to receive the Final Revelation that embraces all Truth and sorts out the human touch in the previous Scriptures. 2:101, 6:34, 6:91, 6:115-116, 10:64, 15:9 18:27, 41:53, 75:16-19. 'No distinction' also indicates that we do not deny some and accept some of the prophets named in the Qur’an. A misconception recently trying to hold grounds should probably be addressed here: It is God alone Who is Impeccable and there is none like unto Him. And no two human beings are identical in every respect. The apostles of God were made to excel one another concerning their specific duties relevant to the times and places of their advent. "We have caused some of them to excel others." (2:253). "But, indeed, We caused some prophets to excel the others." (17:55). However, they were all one in Purpose, so we make no distinction among them on that account, and we do not accept some and deny some of them]
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.
2:138 Hue of God! And who can give a better hue (to life) than God? And it is He alone Whom we serve.
[Hue of God = We take our hue from God. Nearest to God are those who have adopted His Sibghah = Hue or Color = His attributes in the human capacity. 83:28. That means adopting the Divine Attributes in our limited human capacity such as:
kindness – empathy - creativity – mercy - forgiveness – turning to people in love and affection – (attaining) wisdom – knowledge (learning) – compassion – clemency – taking care - peacefulness – remaining informed and aware – sense of duty - determination – justice – protecting others – generosity – unity - self-control – leniency - approachability - appreciation – moral strength – patience - showing light – guiding - independence – truthfulness – maintenance of people and things – keeping pledges – resolve – benefiting others – beautiful designing – providing – listening – observing – being worthy of trust – nobility of character – giving – sense of responsibility. Interestingly, people can make a self-assessment by this spectrum as to where they stand on the ascending ladder of Tazkiah = Self-actualization or personal development]
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.”
[The criterion of honor in the Sight of God is character, and not race, color, nationality, religion or genealogy. Some people think that God is only interested in the Children of Israel when He is the Lord of all humanity. And some think that God begot a son and sacrificed him to forgive their sins. But it is the Law of Requital that is operative in the entire Universe. So, there is no such thing as “Original Sin”. Every human being is born with a clean slate and is accountable only for one’s own doings. 1:1, 2:111, 2:123, 2:135, 2:211, 17:70, 49:13, 53:38-39, 114:1]
2:140 And you claim that Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribal Israelite prophets were ‘Jews’ or ‘Christians’! Say, “Do you know better than God?” Ah, who could be more unjust than those who conceal the testimony they have from God? But God is not unaware of what you do.
[Amazingly, the Qur’an is alluding to a historical fact that was unanimously accepted from research done centuries later! Scholars of the Bible know that the concept of ‘Jewry’ came into being long after the Patriarchs and after Moses. Likewise, the term and the doctrine of ‘Christianity’ were unknown during the life of Jesus]
2:141 Nevertheless, they were a community that has passed on. Theirs is what they earned, and yours is what you earn. And you will not be asked about what they did.
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]
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]
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.
[The verse is not commanding people to turn their faces, as usually misunderstood. See 2:177. Wajh = Face = Countenance = Whole being = Purpose. Qiblah = Direction = Center of devotion = Masjid of Security = Source of peace and security for all humanity = The Symbol of a uniform Ideology = Symbol of pure Monotheism = Source of the unity of mankind. 2:142, 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]
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.
[Qiblah = Direction = Focal Point = It is the tangible structure for unity of mankind. People honor the temples of their choice. They will recognize the Ka’bah as their own Qiblah when evolution of human civilization brings them to the right conclusion. 2:158, 3:97, 4:170, 6:84-91, 22:23-28]
2:146 Those to whom We gave the Scripture before, recognize this (Revelation) as they recognize their own children but, most certainly, some of them (their scholars) conceal the Truth which they themselves know.
[The advent of Prophet Muhammad from the Ishmaelite descendants of Abraham has been foretold in the Bible. Genesis 21:13-18. Gospel of John 14:16, 15:26, 16:7. See QXP 2:125. Historically, the Gospel of Saint Barnabas, which was accepted and widely read in the churches, had ‘Muhammad’ in the exact Arabic form. But Pope Gelasius banned that Gospel in 496 CE for finding the Arabic name distasteful. It was only in the 16th century when the Italian translation of Barnabas was discovered in Vienna, Austria. But, obviously, translations can never be as reliable as the original text]
2:147 This (Qur’an) is the Truth from your Lord, so never be of those who waver.
2:148 (Mere rituals carry no importance even though people pursue their self-appointed interests.) Each one has a goal toward which he turns. Then strive together toward all that is good. Whatever stand you take, God will bring you all together. Indeed, God is Able to do all things.
[Innallaha ‘ala kulli shayin Qadeer = God is Able to do all things = He is the All Powerful Appointer of His Laws = He has assigned due proportion for all things and events. 2:177, 57:20, 83:19-28, 102:1-2. Shayi = Thing = Derived meaning, event. The real objective for you is to compete with one another in human welfare and develop your innate capacities. God will bring you all together under the banner of One Ideology, and ultimately gather you on the Day of Resurrection]
2:149 From wherever you start forth (whichever way you proceed, and whatever you are preoccupied with), keep yourself focused on the Masjid-il-Haraam (the Sacred Masjid, the Ultimate Center for the unity of all mankind.) This is indeed the Truth from your Lord. And God is not unmindful of what you do (with your life).
2:150 Again, regardless of wherever you are and whichever way you are proceeding, you must keep yourself focused on the Masjid-il-Haraam (the Center for all humanity). If you abide by (this Command) it will leave no grounds for people to dispute against you except the unjust fault-finders among them. Hence, be not intimidated by them, but stand in awe of Me so that I may perfect My Grace upon you, and that you may be rightly guided.
[2:6, 5:2-3. The blessed results of Unity in diversity will become a living witness to their objections]
2:151 To this end, We have sent among you a Messenger of your own, conveying unto you Our revelations and helping you grow in goodness. And he empowers you with the knowledge of the Book and Wisdom, and thus, he teaches you what you knew not.
2:152 Therefore, raise My Name and I shall raise your name giving you eminence! Be grateful to Me, and deny Me not!
[2:177, 2:186, 2:220, 15:49, 21:10, 21:23-24, 23:70, 38:24, 43:44. Azkurni = Remember Me = Raise My Name. Azkurkum = I will remember you = I will give you eminence. Shukr = Being grateful in word and action = Sharing Divine Bounties with others = Opposite of Kufr whenever Kufr denotes concealing = Returning more than receiving = Holding a benefactor in high esteem. Note that lack of Shukr or gratitude in the Qur’anic sense is Kufr, denying the Giver! Tazkiah = Growth of the ‘self’ = Self-actualization]
2:153 O You who have chosen to be graced with belief! Seek help in patiently following the Divine Commands. Surely, God is with the steadfast.
[Salaat = Following God’s Commands closely 2:3. Wa in the middle of this verse merges with Salaat as indicated by ‘God being with the steadfast’, without mentioning Salaat in the end]
The Qibla mentioned here is not a physical niche in the mosque wall or a physical direction by which we should turn five times a day but the beliefs of the people. The Qibla the Jews and everyone else should now be following is only the teachings of the Quran.
Moses told his people to follow the Guidance he had received from Allah, make this a reality starting in their homes, by putting them into practice. Take instructions and know the guidance=Qibla,
and put this into practice=salat. The two combined not in a ritual compass point prostration, but a complete submission to Allah.
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
Whether you point east or west, or a 'physical' qibla, this HAS NO RELEVANCE TO YOUR DEVELOPMENT OF A JUST, BALANCED PERSONALITY. WHEN WILL YOU LEARN?
Bukahri has this to enlighten us about when the above verses were revealed and this is why some are fixated on idol worship:-
Volume 6, Book 60, Number 13: Narrated Al-Bara:
The Prophet prayed facing Bait-ulMaqdis (i.e. Jerusalem) for sixteen or seventeen months but he wished that his Qibla would be the Ka'ba (at Mecca). (So Allah Revealed (2.144) and he offered 'Asr prayers(in his Mosque facing Ka'ba at Mecca) and some people prayed with him. A man from among those who had prayed with him, went out and passed by some people offering prayer in another mosque, and they were in the state of bowing. He said, "I, (swearing by Allah,) testify that I have prayed with the Prophet facing Mecca." Hearing that, they turned their faces to the Ka'ba while they were still bowing. Some men had died before the Qibla was changed towards the Ka'ba. They had been killed and we did not know what to say about them (i.e. whether their prayers towards Jerusalem were accepted or not). So Allah revealed:-- "And Allah would never make your faith (i.e. prayer) to be lost (i.e. your prayers offered (towards Jerusalem). Truly Allah is Full of Pity, Most Merciful towards mankind." (2.143)