Lesson From The Qur’an Commentary: Mawlana Mufti Mohammad Shafi Sahib (RA)

....Verse 143
.....وَمَا جَعَلْنَا الْقِبْلَةَ الَّتِي كُنْتَ عَلَيْهَا إِلَّا لِنَعْلَمَ مَنْ يَتَّبِعُ الرَّسُولَ مِمَّنْ يَنْقَلِبُ عَلَى عَقِبَيْهِ وَإِنْ كَانَتْ لَكَبِيرَةً إِلَّا عَلَى الَّذِينَ هَدَى اللَّهُ وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَانَكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِالنَّاسِ لَرَءُوفٌ رَحِيمٌ ()
And We did not appoint the Qiblah which you used to observe except to know him who follows the Messenger as distinct from him who turns on his heels. And, it was burdensome indeed, but not on those whom Allah guided. And Allah is not to let your faith go waste. Certainly Allah is very kind, very merciful to the people.

Injunctions and related considerations
1. The present verse shows that sometimes an injunction based on the Sunnah, or the Tradition of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is abrogated by the Holy Qur'an. As Imam al-Jassas points out in his "Ahkam al-Qur'an", the Noble Qur'an does not specify that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was ever commanded, before the Hijrah or after, to turn in his prayers towards the Baytul-Maqdis: we find the relevant evidence only in the Hadith and the Sunnah. It comes to mean that a practice which had been established by the Sunnah was abrogated by this verse of the Holy Qur'an, appointing the Baytullah as the Qiblah.
2. This verse also goes to show that the Hadith of the Messenger of Allah too, in a certain respect, cannot be delinked from the Holy Qur'an, and that the Holy Qur'an recognizes the legitimacy of those injunctions which find no mention in the Holy Qur'an but have been instituted by the Hadith alone. For, the present verse clearly states at the end that prayers which had been offered, taking the Baytul-Maqdis as the Qiblah, as commanded by the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), are altogether valid and acceptable to Allah.
3. This verse helps us to resolve a delicate problem in Islamic jurisprudence pertaining to the "Khabar al-Wahid" (which is a Hadith reported by one or two persons only). The question which arises in this respect is whether an injunction laid down in the Holy Qur'an, or definitely authenticated otherwise, can be abrogated by such a hadith. The Hanafi school of jurisprudence holds that it cannot, while the reports concerning this verse suggest that it can do so, if strong indications are present to establish the authenticity of such a hadith. For, al-Bukhari, Muslim and nearly all the authentic collections of the Ahadith report the following circumstances from several Companions (RA). When the divine commandment changing the Qiblah came down, the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) offered his prayers at the time of 'Asr (or, according to other reports cited by Ibn Kathir, at the time of zuhr) facing the Baytullah. Some Companions, departing from the mosque, happened to pass by the mosque of the Bani Salamah tribe, and found these people offering their prayers in the direction of he Baytul-Maqdis. So, they called out to inform them that the Qiblah had now been changed, and that they had just offered their prayers along with the Holy Prophet jg; in the direction of the Baytullah. On hearing this, those people at once changed their orientation to Baytullah even in the course of the prayers. Nuwaylah Bint Muslim relates that women who were in the back row came forward, so that when the orientation had been changed, men were again in the front row and women in the back row. (ibn Kathir) Thus the Banu Salmah tribe adopted the new Qiblah the very same day. But the news reached Quba the next day in the course of the Fajr prayers - as reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim from the blessed Companion Ibn 'Umar -, and the people of Quba too turned towards the Baytullah in the course Of the prayers. (Ibn Kathir and Jassas).
After citing these reports, Imam al-Jassas concludes.
هذا خبر صحيح مستفيض في أيدي أهل العلم قد تلوه بالقول فصار في حيز التواتر الموجب للعلم
"Although this hadith is essentially a solitary report, (that is, Al-Khabar al-Wahid), yet, having been generally accepted and also being supported by strong indication with regard to its authenticity, it has acquired the status of a hadith that has been related by a number of trustworthy reporters in an uninterrupted succession -- a fact which always leads to certitude."
The Hanafi jurists agree with this conclusion. They must, however, face another question. This hadith acquired general acceptance only much later, while the news of the change in the orientation must have been conveyed to the Banu Salamah tribe and this hadith immediately without its being widely known? Al-Jassas replies that not only these people but all the Companions already knew that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) wished the Baytullah to be appointed as the Qiblah and had even been praying for it, and had begun to consider it quite probable that the injunction to retain Baytul-Maqdis as the Qiblah may not remain operative in the future. In other words, the probability of a change had made the continuation of the Baytul-Maqdis as the Qiblah a bit uncertain, and not definite. In view of this element of uncertainty, the Khabar al-Wahid was considered to be quite sufficient for abrogating the earlier commandment. Otherwise, a Khabar al-Wahid cannot justifiably abrogate a definite and final injunction laid down by the Holy Qur'an.
(4) The present verse helps to resolve an important problem which has been the subject of a controversy: if the 'Imam uses a microphone in leading Salah, would it be legitimate for the congregation to obey his call in their movements? If they can hear no more than the sound coming out of the loud-speaker, would it not invalidate their prayers?
As we have already noted, Al-Bukhari reports a hadith from the blessed Companion 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar, relating how the people of Quba turned towards the Baytullah even in the course of their prayers as soon as they heard the commandment about the change in orientation. Commenting on this incident, the great Hanafi scholar al-'Ayni says: فيه جواز ععليم من ليس في الصلاة من هو فيها" : This hadith establishes the rule that a man who is not offering his prayers may teach or instruct the man who is engaged in his prayers." In another place, al-'Ayni also adds that from this hadith, al-Tahtawi has derived the rule that if a man engaged in his prayers hears the words spoken by one who is not so engaged, it does not invalidate his prayers ('Umdah al-Qari).
Of course, the Hanafi jurists in general hold that if a man engaged in his prayers-obeys the call of another man who is not participating in these prayers, it invalidates his prayers. What they, however, mean is that obeying someone other than Allah in the course of Salah invalidates it, but if one is actually obeying a divine commandment and the other man is acting only as a means of communicating this injunction to him, it does not invalidate the prayers at all. An example would make the point clear. If a man, joining the congregational prayers, finds that there is no room left in the first row, and that he would be the only one to stand in the second, he should, according to the jurists, pull someone back from the first row and make him join the second row along with himself. Now, on the face of it, the man who allows himself to be pulled back is obeying someone other than Allah in the course of the prayers, and this should invalidate his prayers. But, in fact, it is not so. The most authoritative book of Hanafi jurisprudence, "Al-Durr al-Mukhtar", lays down the rule that the prayers of this man are perfectly valid. As to why his prayers would not be invalidated, Al-Tahtawi explains that this man has not actually been obeying the new-comer, but following a divine commandment conveyed to him by the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). Let us add that there are two different ways in which a man engaged in his prayers may obey the call of another man who is not participating with him in these prayers, (a) He may wish to please this man and to obey him. In such a case, the prayers would become invalid, (b) He obeys a commandment of the Shari'ah, conveyed to him by the other man. In this case, he is essentially obeying a divine commandment, and hence his prayers would not become invalid. (Tahtawi)
This discussion should make it easy to resolve the problem about the use of a microphone by an 'Imam in leading the congregational prayers. Technical experts hold that the sound coming out of a loudspeaker is exactly the sound produced by the 'Imam. If it is so, there is no question of the prayers being invalid. But if we suppose that the sound transmitted by a microphone is not exactly the sound produced by the 'Imam, but only an imitation of the sound, or a report of what he has been saying, even then it would be improper to suspect that the people offering their prayers have been obeying the command of the microphone. For, it is obvious enough that they have been obeying the commandment of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) to follow the movements of the 'Imam - the microphone does no more than inform them that the ‘Imam has, for example, bowed himself down or prostrated himself, and in accepting this information and following his movements, they obey the 'Imam and not the instrument. And it is, of course, a divine commandment which requires us to obey the 'Imam in the congregational prayers.
(5) There is a phrase in the present verse which requires some explanation: "And Allah is not to let your faith go waste." If we take 'Imam (faith) in its usual sense, the phrase would be interpreted like this. When the Qiblah was changed, some stupid people thought that the Muslims had forsaken Islam, and that their 'Iman had now become null and void. The verse assures the Muslims that Allah would not allow their 'Imam to go waste, and asks them not to fall prey to such senseless conjectures.
On the other, on the basis of certain Ahadith, some early commentators have interpreted the word 'Imam in the verse to mean the Salah. According to this interpretation, Allah assures the Muslims that the commandment changing the Qiblah would in no way affect the validity of the prayers they have been offering so far in the direction of the Baytul-Maqdis - Allah would not allow these prayers to go waste, for they are valid, and have already been accepted.
Al-Bukhari has reported from the Companion al-Bara' 'Ibn 'Azib, and al-Tirmidhi from the Companion Ibn 'Abbas (RA) that when the Baytullah was appointed as the Qiblah, people became worried about the fate of those Muslims who had been praying in the direction of the Baytul-Maqdis, but had died before having the opportunity to pray in the direction of the Baytullah.