salaam brother Dawood, all,
Are you familiar with the following analysis?
change of qiblah - an understanding based on Quran
The information we can extract about the meaning of "qiblah", and the change, from these verses is as follows:
•this new change is in some way related to guiding to a straight/establishing path, and making the believers a balanced/moderate community
•the qiblah which they were on was a great test (i.e. difficult), except those God guided, and their belief in such was not going to be for nothing, hence this new qiblah pleased the messenger (i.e. less hardship/difficulty)
•in this case the qiblah happens to be al masjid al haram (AMAH, but there are potentially many other qiblah, as individuals could have their own qiblah
•in 2:148 the usage of "wherever" is the ONLY time it appears without a close link to "turn+wajh+AMAH" therefore likens "wijhatun (direction/course/goal/motive)" with "qiblah" and consequently likens AMAH to "race to the good" or at least we can say AMAH involves this. Furthermore, AQ implies each person may have their own "qiblah" in 2:145 then later in 2:148 says "for each is a wijhatun he turns towards it", strongly suggesting "qiblah" and "wijhatun" are being related as similar terms/concepts. Please re-read these verses as this is a key finding.
•those who have been given the kitab/book/decree who that it is the truth, and recognise it like they recognise their sons but hide the truth. Their qiblah is likely based on desires
•the effects of this change will be less debate from the people (implying the former qiblah produced more debate), lead to God completing His favour, aid guiding, and bringing you all together wherever you are.
•wherever one is they should turn their wajh/purpose/consideration in the direction of AMAH, and from wherever they depart, from the contexts that likley involves being oriented towards the truth of your Lord, the good, and uniting of believers
To me, "turning one's wajh in the sky" in 2:144 comes across as an idiom, so whilst it could be literally translated as "turning one's face IN the sky" it is implying one is directionless, aimless, floating/blowing in the wind, i.e. no plan/goal to progress, looking/searching for a way/resolution. Interestingly it is listed in 'Verbal Idioms of Quran' by Mustansir Mir but explained as he turned his face towards the heaven so often that it is added emphasis to say his face was IN the heaven, even though it literally is not. Perhaps, but that does not change the fact that it is taken by all to mean he was seeking guidance. The new qiblah resolves this, and is also pleasing, implying a possible easing of argumentation/hostility for the believers, which would tie in with "no debate against you".
As a side note, the only other use of "wly/turn" in these verses other than "turn+wajh" is 2:148 "...he turns towards it (wijhatun/course/goal)", which is primarily figurative and not taken physical-directional by anyone. This may help indicate the type of turning being referred to in these verses.
Based on the above, usage of the root QBL in Quran, classical arabic dictionary meanings, and the only other occurrence of "qiblah" in 10:87, in terms of likelihood for the meaning of "qiblah", in my view, are:
1) focal-point - focus of interest/attention or activity
2) direction - general aim or purpose; a general way in which someone/something is developing
3) point-of-approach - a way in which to approaching something
4) counteraction - to oppose and mitigate the effects of by contrary action
What are your thoughts?