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  • 2/25/2006

Qibla Changing Direction

FromJerusalem to Ka'ba

(18 Moharram, second year of Hijra)

Qibla is the direction in which Muslims all over the world must have to face to while praying to the Only One God the all-Almighty Allah.

At the heart of Jerusalem is the Noble Sanctuary orHaram al-Sharif, enclosing over 35 acres of fountains, gardens, buildings and domes. At its southernmost end is Al-Aqsa Mosque and at its center the celebrated Dome of the Rock. The entire area is regarded as Baitul-Maqdis or Al-Quds and comprises nearly one sixth of the walled city of Jerusalem.

It is clear that Masjid al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock (Qubbat as-Sakhra) are two separate buildings, and not synonymous with each other as believed by some Muslims. However, both these buildings are within the enclosure of Haram al-Sharif referred to in Holy Qur'an as "the Furthest Mosque" in Surah Israa1.

Dome of the Rock

Masjidul Aqsa

When Allah first ordered the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and all Muslims to offer the daily Prayer, they were required to pray facing Baytul Muqaddas (Jerusalem). This was the practice in Mecca and continued in Medina until the seventeenth month after Hijrat (traveling fromMecca to Medina).

In Medina, the Jews also said their prayers facing Baytul Muqaddas. They did not like the fact that the Muslims had the same Qibla as they did, andtried to use this fact to discredit Islam and the Holy Prophet (PBUH). They said to the Muslims, "Muhammad claims to have a religion whose laws supersede all other previous laws, yet he does not have an independent Qibla, and offers his prayers facing the Qibla of the Jews."

After the Holy Prophet (PBUH) received this news he used to come out at night and look into the sky awaiting the revelation from Allah about this matter. The following verse was revealed at this time:

"Many a time We have seen you turn your face towards heaven. We will make you turn towards a Qibla that will please you..." Surah Baqarah144

The fact that the Qibla was the same as that of the Jews was also because it wasa test of the faith of the people. The true faith of the followers would be tested by seeing if any of them refused or delayed to turn towards the new Qibla as chosen by Allah. This is confirmed in the Holy Qur'an in the following verse:

"We decreed your former Qibla only so that We may know the Prophet's true followers and those who were to deny him. It was indeed a hard test, but not for those whom Allah guided..." Surah Baqarah143

One day, while the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and the Muslims were praying together, the command came from Allah to change the Qibla from Baytul Muqaddas to the Holy Ka'ba in Mecca.After the Holy Prophet (PBUH) had already completed two raka'ats of thenoon prayer, the Angel Gabriel communicated to him the command of Allah.

He held the hand of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and turned him towards the Holy Ka'ba in Masjidul Haraam inMecca. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) at once changed hisdirection in the middle of Prayer. Imam Ali (pbuh) followed this change immediately. The other Muslims were confused by this action and only a few followed the example of Imam Ali.

The mosque where this happened is known as "Masjid-e-Dhul Qiblatain" which means"The Mosque with the Two Qiblas". This mosque still exists in Medina today.

With modern instruments and science we can pinpoint the exact location of Medina to be at latitude 24 degrees and longitude 39 degrees. This makes the Qibla 45 degrees south of Medina.

The Holy Prophet (PBUH) turned towards the new Qibla without hesitation. The old and new Qiblas can still be seen today in Masjide Dhul Qiblatain. It wasone of the Holy Prophet's miracles that he turned exactly to face the Holy Ka'ba without the use of any scientific instrument or computation.

The Holy Ka'ba which serves as the Qibla for all Muslims today has always been respected by the Arabs, even before the Holy Prophet (PBUH). It was for this reason that this new Qibla served to attract more Arabs towards Islam.

Holy Ka'ba, The current Qibla of Muslims:

The Qibla, for any point of reference on the Earth, is the direction of the Ka'ba (Mecca, Saudi Arabia). In Muslim religious practice, supplicants must face this direction at prayer.

It should be noted thatMuslims do not worship the Ka'ba or its contents; the Ka'ba is simply a focal point for prayer.

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