Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
Then Allah mentioned the direction of prayer to Him, saying (Unto Allah belong the East and the West) as a direction of prayer for him who does not know the correct direction of prayer, (and whithersoever ye turn) your faces in prayer after ascertaining the direction, (there is Allah's Countenance) that prayer is performed in Allah's pleasure. This verse was revealed about a group of Companions of the Prophet (pbuh) who prayed whilst travelling in the wrong direction after doing their best to determine the correct direction. It is also said that saying (Unto Allah belong the East and the West) means: the people of the East and the people of the West have one direction of prayer which is the Sacred Precinct, and therefore (there is Allah's Countenance) means: that is the direction of prayer to Allah, (Lo! Allah is All-Embracing) regarding the direction of prayer, (All- Knowing) of their intentions.
Tafsir Ibn 'Abbas, trans. Mokrane Guezzou
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