Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Thus) i.e. just as we have honoured you with the Religion of Abraham (Islam) and his direction of prayer (We have appointed you a middle nation) a middlemost community, (that you be witnesses) for the prophets (over mankind, and that the Messenger) Muhammad (pbuh) (may be a witness over you) that you are upright and follow the straight path. (And We appointed) changed (the Qiblah which ye formerly observed) prayed towards for a period of 19 months (only that We might know) see and distinguish (him who followeth the Messenger) concerning the Qiblah, (from him who turneth) reverts (on his heels) to his former religion and direction of prayer. (In truth it) the changing of the Qiblah (was a hard (test) save for those whom Allah guided) whose hearts Allah had protected. (But it was not Allah's purpose that your faith should be in vain) that He thwarts your faith as it was prior to the abrogation of legal rulings; and it is also said that this means: it is not Allah's purpose to thwart your faith but rather His purpose is to abrogate the legal rulings which conduct your faith; and it is also said that this means: Allah did not thwart your prayers towards Jerusalem but He has abrogated the ruling which required you to pray towards Jerusalem, (for Allah is full of pity, Merciful) in that He does not thwart your faith as it was before the abrogation of legal rulings (towards mankind) towards the believers.
Tafsir Ibn 'Abbas, trans. Mokrane Guezzou
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