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Sirat Rasoul Allah

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9- The Qibla

Seventeen months after the apostle arrived in Medina the qibla [the direction in which Muhammad and his followers faced during prayers] was changed from Jerusalem to Mecca . Several Jews came to him and taunted him: '0 Muhammad! What has turned you away from the qibla you used to face? You allege that you follow the religion of Abraham; return, then, to the qibla of the religion of Abraham, to which you turned before, and we shall follow you and believe in you. 'But they slyly intended thus to turn him away from his religion. Then Allah revealed the words: 'Foolish men say "What hath turned them away from the qibla to which they prayed?" Reply, "Allah's is the east and the west, He leads whom He will to the straight path." ' And Allah said, 'Turn thy face to the holy mosque [the Kaba at Mecca ; and wherever you are, turn thy face to that.'

Once, Muadh asked some Jewish rabbis about a subject men­tioned in the Torah, but they refused to answer him about it. So Allah revealed the verse, 'Those who conceal what We have sent down, after We have made it plain, will be cursed by Allah.'

Again the apostle of Allah invited the Jews, possessors of' the scripture, to accept Islam and tried to enlist them in its favour; but he also threatened them with the punishment and vengeance of Allah. He was told, 'Nay. We shall follow that religion which our fathers professed, because they were more learned and better men than we are.' Allah the most high and glorious therefore sent down the verse which says, 'And when it is said to them "Follow that revelation which Allah has sent down", they say. "Nay, we shall follow that which we found our fathers practise." What? Though their fathers knew nothing, and were not rightlv guided!'

On another occasion the apostle entered a Jewish school and invited those who were present to Allah. They asked, 'What is your religion, Muhammad?' and he replied, 'The religion of Abraham .' They said, 'Abraham was a Jew.' Then the apostle told them, 'Bring the Torah and let that judge between me and you', but they refused.

Among the tribes who had professed Islam were the Khazraj and the Aus, who had formerly been in a constant state of enmity. One day a sheikh who hated Islam passed by and, seeing the new friendship between the tribes, became angry and decided to chief. Accordingly, he beckoned to a young Jew and and sit with them; then mention the battle of Bu'ath and what preceded it!” Bu'ath was the day on which the two tribes, and the Khazraj, had fought; the Aus had been victorious. The young Jew did what he was told and the people began to talk on the subject, to dispute, and boast to one another, till at last two men jumped up, arguing hotly, and one said, 'If you wish we shall repeat the battle!” Now, both parties became enraged and cried, 'The challenge is accepted! Outside the arms! To arms!' and they all rushed off. As soon as th apostle of Allah heard of this, he went after them, and when he reached them he said, 'Do you now revive the disputes which raged during the years of idolatry? After Allah has led you to Islam and united you in friendship?' Then the people realized that this was a trick of Satan, and wept, and the Aus embraced raj and all departed with the apostle of Allah, attentive and obedient.

Some Muslims tried to keep up connexions with the Jews because of the alliance which had existed between them during the years of ignorance; but Allah revealed the following verse, prohibiting this kind of association. 'Contract no friendships except among your own number. Others would certainly corrupt you. They desire your humiliation; their hatred is clear enough in what they say, but what their hearts conceal is even worse. You have more right to hate them than they you. When they meet you they say, "We believe", but when they are alone they bite their fingers with rage against you. Say, "Die in your rage!”

One day Abu Bakr entered the schoolhouse of the Jews and found many of them assembled around a man whose name was Finhas. He was a doctor and rabbi, and had with him another rabbi called Ashya. Abu Bakr said to Finhas, 'Woe betide thee. Fear Allah, and make profession of Islam!' Finhas replied, “We have no need of Allah, but He has need of us! We do not beseech Him as He beseeches us. We are independent of Him, but He is not independent of us. If He were independent of us, He would not ask for our money as your master Muhammad does [for a war against Mecca ]. He forbids usury to you, but pays us interest; if He were independent of us He would give us no interest.' .At this, Abu Bakr became angry, and struck Finhas violently, saying, 'I swear by Him in whose hands my life rests that if there were no treaty between us I would have struck off your head, you enemy of Allah!' Then Finhas went to the apostle of. Allah and said, 'See what your companion has done to me! Abu Bakr explained what happened, but Finhas denied the whole matter and said, 'I spoke no such words!' But Allah revealed a verse confirming the words of Abu Bakr.  

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