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Select Translation What is This? Selections include: The Koran Interpreted, a translation by A.J. Arberry, first published 1955; The Qur'an, translated by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, published 2004; or side-by-side comparison view
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The Qurʾan What is This? A current English-language version of the Qur'an, published in 2004
Translation by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem

2. The Cow (142 – 162)

142The foolish people will say, ‘What has turned them away from the prayer direction they used to face?’a This refers to the change in the Muslims’ prayer direction from Jerusalem to Mecca in the second year of the Hijra. Say, ‘East and West belong to God. He guides whoever He will to the right way.’ 143We have made you [believers] into a just community,b Literally ‘a middle nation’. so that you may bear witness [to the truth] before others and so that the Messenger may bear witness [to it] before you. We only made the direction the one you used to face [Prophet] in order to distinguish those who follow the Messenger from those who turn on their heels: that test was hard, except for those God has guided. God would never let your faith go to waste [believers],c This reassured those who asked whether the prayers said towards Jerusalem had been wasted. for God is most compassionate and most merciful towards people. 144Many a time We have seen you [Prophet] turn your face towards Heaven, so We are turning you towards a prayer direction that pleases you.a The Prophet secretly hoped to be allowed to face the Mosque in Mecca in prayer, as it was so dear to him, being built by Abraham and Ishmael, as seen from verse 127 onwards. Turn your face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque: wherever you [believers] may be, turn your faces to it. Those who were given the Scripture know with certainty that this is the Truth from their Lord: God is not unaware of what they do. 145Yet even if you brought every proof to those who were given the Scripture, they would not follow your prayer direction, nor will you follow theirs, nor indeed will any of them follow one another's direction. If you [Prophet] were to follow their desires, after the knowledge brought to you, you would be doing wrong. 146Those We gave Scripture know it as well as they know their own sons, but some of them hide the truth that they know. 147The truth is from your Lord, so do not be one of those who doubt. 148Each community has its own direction to which it turns: race to do good deeds and wherever you are, God will bring you together.b On the Day of Judgement, cf. 5: 48. God has power to do everything.

149[Prophet], wherever you may have started out, turn your face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque—this is the truth from your Lord: He is not unaware of what you do—150wherever you may have started out, turn your face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque; wherever any of you may be, turn your faces towards it, so that people may have no argument against youc Both Jews and polytheists questioned the choice of qibla (prayer direction) for their own reasons.—except for the wrongdoers among them: do not fear them; fear Me—and so that I may perfect My favour on you and you may be guided, 151just as Wed Note the shift in pronoun from singular to plural of majesty (see Introduction, p. xx). have sent among you a Messenger of your own to recite Our revelations to you, purify you and teach you the Scripture, wisdom, and [other] things you did not know. 152So remember Me; I will remember you. Be thankful to Me, and never ungrateful.

153You who believe, seek help through steadfastness and prayer, for God is with the steadfast. 154Do not say that those who are killed in God's cause are dead; they are alive, though you do not realize it. 155We shall certainly test you with fear and hunger, and loss of property, lives, and crops. But [Prophet], give good news to those who are steadfast, 156those who say, when afflicted with a calamity, ‘We belong to God and to Him we shall return.’ 157These will be given blessings and mercy from their Lord, and it is they who are rightly guided.

158Safa and Marwaa Two hills adjacent to the Ka‘ba between which a pilgrim and visitor should walk up and down in commemoration of what Hagar did in search of water for her baby, Ishmael. are among the rites of God, so for those who make major or minorb The minor pilgrimage (‘umra) can be done during the pilgrimage season or at any other time during the year. pilgrimage to the Housec The Ka‘ba, which is central both to the direction of prayer and to the rites of pilgrimage as established by Abraham at God's command. it is no offence to circulate between the two.d The Muslims were reluctant to perform this rite, as the polytheists had installed two idols on these hills. Here it is reclaimed for God. Anyone who does good of his own accord will be rewarded, for God rewards good deeds, and knows everything. 159As for those who hide the proofs and guidance We send down, after We have made them clear to people in the Scripture, God rejects them, and so do others, 160unless they repent, make amends, and declare the truth. I will certainly accept their repentance: I am the Ever Relenting, the Most Merciful. 161As for those who disbelieve and die as disbelievers, God rejects them, as do the angels and all people. 162They will remain in this state of rejection: their punishment will not be lightened, nor will they be reprieved.

Notes:

a This refers to the change in the Muslims’ prayer direction from Jerusalem to Mecca in the second year of the Hijra.

b Literally ‘a middle nation’.

c This reassured those who asked whether the prayers said towards Jerusalem had been wasted.

a The Prophet secretly hoped to be allowed to face the Mosque in Mecca in prayer, as it was so dear to him, being built by Abraham and Ishmael, as seen from verse 127 onwards.

b On the Day of Judgement, cf. 5: 48.

c Both Jews and polytheists questioned the choice of qibla (prayer direction) for their own reasons.

d Note the shift in pronoun from singular to plural of majesty (see Introduction, p. xx).

a Two hills adjacent to the Ka‘ba between which a pilgrim and visitor should walk up and down in commemoration of what Hagar did in search of water for her baby, Ishmael.

b The minor pilgrimage (‘umra) can be done during the pilgrimage season or at any other time during the year.

c The Ka‘ba, which is central both to the direction of prayer and to the rites of pilgrimage as established by Abraham at God's command.

d The Muslims were reluctant to perform this rite, as the polytheists had installed two idols on these hills. Here it is reclaimed for God.

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