15.4 Jewish Reaction
While it was a day of hope and joy for the Muslims, it was a day of mourning and mortification for the Jews. Mortification because the different orientation implied that the Muslims had become completely independent of them, and mourning because their old books said that the last of the great prophets would change the orientation of the religion of Allah from Jerusalem to the Ancient House of Abraham. Their knowledge of this prophecy is what the holy verses in the previous section refer to.
So long as Mohamed had not done so, they could deny his prophet-hood and feel justified in not being committed to follow him, but once the prophecy had been verified at his hands, they could no longer deny that he was the very prophet they had waited centuries for and had been ordered to obey. Their arrogance as the chosen people stood in the way of their following an Arab. Their desire for power prevented them from admitting that this prophecy had come about in case it led the common people to follow him. They had to find a means of stopping it happening, thus proving that he was not the prophet they had waited for.
Their elders went in a body to the Messenger and said that if he would change his orientation back to Jerusalem, then they would follow him. Once again the revelation guided the Messenger:
If you bring the People of the Book every token,
they will not follow your orientation, nor will you follow theirs.
You will not follow each other's orientation.
Should you follow their wishes
after the knowledge that has come to you,
you would be of the wicked. (2:145)
The Muslims began to have a distinctive character, while the Jews began to grow closer to the hypocrites and the polytheists.