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8:34 The Sacred Mosque: The rightful place of Believers

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But what plea have they that Allah should not punish them, when they keep out (men) from the sacred Mosque – and they are not its guardians? No men can be its guardians except the righteous; but most of them do not understand.

Asad writes,

At the time of the revelation of this surah (the year 2 H.) Mecca was still in the possession
of the hostile Quraysh, and no Muslim was allowed to enter it. Owing to their descent from
Abraham, the Quraysh considered themselves entitled to the guardianship of the Ka’bah (“the
Inviolable House of Worship”), which had been built by Abraham as the first temple ever
to the One God (see surah 2, note 102). The Qur’an refutes this contention, just as it refutes
the claim of the children of Israel to being “the chosen people” by virtue of their descent
from Abraham. (Cf. in this connection 2:124, and especially the last sentence, “My covenant
does not embrace the wrongdoers.”) Although they still retained a modicum of belief in God,
the Quraysh had entirely forsaken the unitarian faith of Abraham, thus forfeiting any moral claim to the guardianship of the Temple (al-bayt) built by him


Asad, Muhammad (1980). The Message of the Quran.

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