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Sura 8
Aya 34
وَما لَهُم أَلّا يُعَذِّبَهُمُ اللَّهُ وَهُم يَصُدّونَ عَنِ المَسجِدِ الحَرامِ وَما كانوا أَولِياءَهُ ۚ إِن أَولِياؤُهُ إِلَّا المُتَّقونَ وَلٰكِنَّ أَكثَرَهُم لا يَعلَمونَ

Muhammad Asad

But what have they [now] in their favour that God should not chastise them - seeing that they bar [the believers] from the Inviolable House of Worship, although they are not its [rightful] guardians?1 None but the God-conscious can be its guardians: but of this most of these [evildoers] are unaware;
  • 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 dedicated 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.