Dear Br Dawood,
To clear all confusions on your part on salat,, qibla, and qiblatain, and turning your faces, physical actions, etc. the very first thing you should do is discard the translation of Qur’an you are using, and study Dr. Shabbir’s rendition of Quran in QXP found at http://www.drshabbir.com/library/qxpvi_w_arabic_text.pdf. Additionally, you will also be in compliance with the Forum policy in using only QXP for quoting references from the Quran.
Let’s look at the Qibla definition, you mentioned:
“The word “Qibla” is from root letters qāf bā lām and occurs 7 times in Quran as a noun qib'lat. The meanings of this word relevant to our discussion are: facing a particular direction; Its typical use is facing towards a place during Namaz, the place to be kept in front. From here Allama Parwez in Lughat-ul-Quran concludes that Qibla is a distinctive symbol of Deen which is Kaaba, and its evident and manifest form is gatherings of Salat facing Kaaba. [pages 1324-25].”
I do not find Allama Parwez CONCLUDING in facing Kaaba in Namaz in his explanation in Lughat-ul-Quran, although it does mention about facing the Kaaba for prayers. Anyhow, let’s find out where his conclusions lie:
Here’s the complete explanation of 'Qibla' with respect to Deen, by Allama Parwez.
Reference: Lughat-ul-Quran, Dictionary of Quran, VOLUME III, Ebook edition, Originally compiled in Urdu by Allama Ghulam Ahmad Parwez, Edited/Translated by: Sheraz Akhtar - Quranic Education Society Norway. Pgs 236-238
In Deen, the (qiblah) has a particular significance. Every system, every republic, every government have a centre as a symbol towards which all refer. It creates a unity of thought and homogeneity of deed among them. This is actually the symbol of that system which has to be kept in mind all the time. By keeping it in view (or mind) one expresses his fidelity to that system.
The Qiblah or centre for the system of God could be only one, about which God has said:
3:95 Ka 'ba which has been made the symbol of guidance for all mankind
3 :96 he who enters It, finds peace
The importance of the (qiblah) can be judged from the fact that following the qiblah has been likened to the following of Deen.
Surah Al-Baqrah says:
2:145 Even if you present them with all the verses or reasoning you can, even then they will not follow your qiblah, and neither will you follow theirs and neither will they follow each other's qiblah.
2:120 The Jews and the Christians will never be happy with you until you follow their way.
This shows that qiblah is actually the symbol of a way of life or Deen and following the qiblah means to follow a particular way of life.
The momineen have been told that no matter which walk of life they belong to, in whichever part of the world they may be residing, they must fix their direction towards their qiblah:
2: 150 keep your attention towards it
Let your purpose in life be one, and this unity will form the basis of the unity of your nation. The physical form of doing this is to face toward the qiblah in prayers. This is the truth which has been stressed and must be followed:
2:177 The path to righteousness is not that you turn your face towards east or west
If qibaal is considered as the plural of qiblah, then the verse would mean that all the qiblahs in the east and the west, be they belong to any nation or religion, are in fact additional and not personal. The things which symbolize a system are important so long as the systems are in place. When they are no longer present, the symbols also lose their significance. These symbols have been called (sha-irillaah) at another place. See heading (Sh-Äin-R). But if the system is no longer present then the respect of the symbols becomes merely customary. This is the point that the Quran wants to make when it says that no matter where you are, keep your attention or direction towards your Deen_ This will show as to where your fidelity lies, but this also means that turning towards the qiblah IS not an end in Itself — its significance is symbolic.
Then question is that when the system becomes invisible and people who are living individual lives but wish to establish a system, then what qiblah should be the centre? Now the question before us is, where should collective life begin? The Quran has pointed to this fact too in the narrative about the Bani Israel where it is said that "We sent revelation towards Moosa".
In these conditions:
10:87 Make your homes the centre of salaat and begin the system of salaat from there
This means that this system starts from your homes, and gradually this system will encompass everybody and one qibla or centre will be established for all.
Baitul Maqaddas was the centre for the Jews, but the Jews confined Allah's Deen to their descendants only. Therefore this centre also turned into their national centre but not the centre for the mankind as a whole. But no religion or nation had the concept of a universal bondage of humanity. Conversely the Quran wanted to bring all mankind to one centre. It could only make Ka 'ba the centre whose foundation was laid by Ibrahim for this very purpose i.e. to unify mankind on one qibla (2:127)
This place was declared:
2.125 The sanctuary and centre for all mankind
22:25 for the residents as well as for those who came from outside
3:96 it was made to benefit all mankind
You addressed Br Jawaid:
“This is what you are doing with the Arabic word “Qibla.” You are not even looking at what other words, phrases and sentences are in which this word is used.
This is your classic modes operandi; take a word from one kind of verse, bring about external ideas and inferences, and then project those inferences back to the entire verse or other verses, finally concluding what you began with to conclude. Is this called scholarship?”
It should be clear by now the definition of Qibla from Lughat-ul-Quran above. Also, here’s Dr. Shabbir explanation on Qibla:
Qiblah = Center of devotion = Symbol of uniform Ideology = Center for the unity of mankind = Deen = System of Life. The Children of Israel have considered Jerusalem as their Center of devotion but the Jews always believed in a tribal god and, hence, a tribal center. But God is the Lord of all humanity. He
makes no distinction between Jews and Gentiles. And 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, the first House of Monotheism, was erected by Abraham in Makkah. It has always been 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]
We also find a mention of Jerusalem in the Hebrew Bible, about 669 times as “the place that God will choose”. Book of Psalms has numerous Jerusalem references.
One noteworthy mention is the following reference in the Rabbinic Literature:
If one is praying in the Land of Israel, he should direct his heart towards Jerusalem; If he is standing in Jerusalem, he should face towards the Holy Temple — Brachot 27a
On physical prayers in Judaism (from Wikipedia):
The Amidah prayer is recited standing with feet firmly together, and preferably while facing Jerusalem. In Orthodox public worship, the Shemoneh Esrei is usually first prayed silently by the congregation and is then repeated aloud by the chazzan (reader); the repetition's original purpose was to give illiterate members of the congregation a chance to participate in the collective prayer by answering "Amen."
The worshipper bows at four points in the Amidah: at the beginning and end of both the first blessing of Avot and the second to last blessing of Hoda'ah. At the opening words of Avot and at the conclusion of both these blessings, when the one says "Blessed are You, O Lord," one bends one's knees at "Blessed," then bows at "are You," and straightens while saying "O Lord." The reason for this procedure is that the Hebrew word for "blessed" (baruch) is related to "knee" (berech); while the verse in Psalms states, "The Lord straightens the bent." At the beginning of Hoda'ah, one bows while saying the opening words "We are grateful to You" without bending the knees. At each of these bows, one must bend over until the vertebrae protrude from one's back; one physically unable to do so suffices by nodding the head.
During certain parts of the Amidah said on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, Ashkenazi Jews traditionally go down to the floor upon their knees and make their upper body bowed over like an arch, similar to Muslims, though not exactly in the same manner. There are some variations in Ashkenazi customs as to how long one remains in this position. Some Jews among the Dor Daim and Talmidhe haRambam understand both the Mishneh Torah and the Talmudic source texts concerning bowing in the Shemoneh Esreh to be teaching that one must always prostrate, lying flat on the ground, not only during the High Holy Days, but throughout the year during the four bows of the Amidah.
Aren’t we reminded in the Quran not to follow the errant ways and views of Jews and Christians and all those who have gone astray? 2:120, 5:77. Empty rituals and physical actions have no place in Islam.
Your criticism of Br Jawaid in bringing in external references and ideas is unfair and without merit. What I see in his posts is systematic deductions based on Quran, with reference to QXP and Allama Parwez, as well as comparative studies from Jewish and Christian sources.
You further mentioned:
“[2:144]: We have certainly seen the turning of your face, [O Muhammad], toward the heaven, and We will surely turn you to a Qiblah with which you will be pleased. So turn your face toward al-Masjid al-haram. And wherever you [believers] are, turn your faces toward it...
You are stating that “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.”
As per your understanding, “Qibla = Beliefs of the people.”
Read 2:144 above again, and answer the following questions.
1. Why was the prophet uneasy with his previous beliefs/qibla?
2. Did God ask prophet to have “Qibla=beliefs” which he did not like?
3. Why did God ask prophet to have a different “qibla=belief” until 2:144?
4. Why did God readily obliged him, saying you will be happy with new “qibla=belief”?
5. Is “belief” something inside or outside?
6. Is Masjid Alharam a physical entity?
7. Read the phrase: wajhakashatra almasjidi alharami = turn your face towards the direction of Masjid Alharam.” Now translate it for yourself, please.”
On your questions, just revisit 2:144, with context of 143 and 145 below, and see how beautifully the meanings unfold on a silver platter, as rendered using Tasreef in QXP by Dr Shabbir, if you still need more insight, just go back or forward a few more verses in getting the big picture:
2:143 Thus We have made you a Middle Community that you might be witnesses over all mankind and the Messenger a witness over yourselves. We have appointed the Qiblah that you have always been used to (O Messenger) in order to distinguish him who follows the Messenger, from him who turns about on his heels. Indeed, it has been difficult except for those guided by God. God would never let your faith go vain. God is Compassionate and Merciful to mankind. [Ummah = Community = A Community based on Divine Ideology. 'Middle Community' = Equidistant to all nations. 'Turns about on his heels' = Goes back to his old ways. 2:142, 4:88, 29:25]
2:144 We have seen your eagerness (O Messenger), therefore, We will certainly make you control and administer the Qiblah that is dear to you (for its Sublime Objective). Keep your purpose focused on the Masjid of Security. Wherever you believers are, keep your purpose focused on the objective (of unity of
mankind). Those who have been given the Scripture before know that this (Revelation) is the Truth from their Lord. God is not unaware of what they do. [The verse is not commanding people to turn their faces. See 2:177. Wajh = Face = Countenance = Whole being = Purpose. Qiblah = Ka'bah = Direction = Center of devotion = Masjid of Security = Source of peace and security for all humanity = Symbol of a Uniform Ideology = Symbol of pure Monotheism = Center of the unity of mankind. Ka'bah has been the
Center of devotion for all humanity ever since it was erected by Prophets Abraham and Ishmael. 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 together before the People of the Book, they would not follow your Qiblah. Neither may you follow their Qiblah, nor will they follow each other's Qiblah. If you followed their errant views after the knowledge has come to you, you will be among the misdirected. [Qiblah = Direction = Focal Point = It is the tangible but symbolic 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. Zaalimeen = Oppressors = Those who hurt themselves or others = Who displace something from its rightful place = Who relegate the truth = Violators of human rights = Commonly translated as wrongdoers]
Lastly Br Jawaid's reference on Bukhari was apt in all ways. It was Bukhari who ushered the Muslim mindset, to this day, that Muslims faced Jerusalem in 2:142 before they changed their focus to Kaaba. It was not the Prophet (S) but Jews who faced Jerusalem.
2:142 Those of little understanding among people say, 'What has turned them from the Qiblah they (Jews) used to follow? Say, 'Unto God belongs the East and the West. He guides to the straight path whoever wills (to be guided).'
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)...