Revisiting The First Qiblah

Facing the General Direction of the Qibla When the Exact Direction is Known

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Can one face the general direction of the qibla when the exact direction is known (such as facing directly East when the exact direction is East of North East, for example)?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, the Benevolent, the Merciful

May Allah’s peace & blessings be upon His Messenger Muhammad, his folk, companions, and followers

Yes, it is valid and permissible to face the general direction of the Qibla even when one knows the exact direction, though facing the latter is (generally) superior and more scrupulous, in the Hanafi school of law.

I asked the great Damascene Hanafi jurist, Shaykh Adib Kallas (Allah have mercy upon him) about this question specifically, and he was clear that there are only two cases in the Hanafi school:

[1] If you can see the Kaaba itself, you have to face it exactly (`ayn al-qibla);

[2] If you can’t see the Kaaba, then you must face its general direction (jihat al-qibla).

In the latter case, you aren’t obligated to face it exactly, even if you know the exact direction.

The reasoning for this is that:

(1) Even a slight deviation–which is, practically, inevitable–would mean that you’re not facing the Kaaba “exactly”;

(2) The primary texts only require “facing” the direction of the qibla–such as in 2.144 and 2.149 in the Qur’an. [See: Jassas, Tafsir Ahkam al-Qur’an];

(3) There can be hardship (haraj) in the requirement of facing the exact direction.

[Ref: Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar; Ibn al-Humam/Marghinani, Fath al-Qadir `ala al-Hidaya; Jassas, Tafsir Ahkam al-Qur’an]

Thus, the prayer of someone facing the general direction ) of the qibla is valid, even if the exact direction is known. It is normally superior and more scrupulous to face the exact direction–but this is not an obligation or condition for the validity of prayer.

I confirmed this with one of the foremost Hanafi jurists alive from the Indo-Pak Subcontinent, Mufti Mahmoud Ashraf Usmani, and his answer was similar to the above.

And Allah alone gives success.

Faraz Rabbani

فتح‭ ‬القدير‭ ‬شرح‭ ‬الهداية‭ – (‬2‭ / ‬13‭)‬

قَالَ‭ ( ‬وَيَسْتَقْبِلُ‭ ‬الْقِبْلَةَ‭ ) ‬لِقَوْلِهِ‭ ‬تَعَالَى‭ {  ‬فَوَلُّوا‭ ‬وُجُوهَكُمْ‭ ‬شَطْرَهُ‭ }  ‬ثُمَّ‭ ‬مَنْ‭ ‬كَانَ‭ ‬بِمَكَّةَ‭ ‬فَفَرْضُهُ‭ ‬إصَابَةُ‭ ‬عَيْنِهَا‭ ‬،‭ ‬وَمَنْ‭ ‬كَانَ‭ ‬غَائِبًا‭ ‬فَفَرْضُهُ‭ ‬إصَابَةُ‭ ‬جِهَتِهَا‭ ‬هُوَ‭ ‬الصَّحِيحُ‭ ‬لِأَنَّ‭ ‬التَّكْلِيفَ‭ ‬بِحَسَبِ‭ ‬الْوُسْعِ‭ .‬

الدر‭ ‬المختار‭ – (‬1‭ / ‬461‭)‬

‭(‬فللمكي‭) ‬وكذا‭ ‬المدني‭ ‬لثبوت‭ ‬قبلتها‭ ‬بالوحي‭ (‬إصابة‭ ‬عينها‭) ‬يعم‭ ‬المعاين‭ ‬وغيره‭ ‬لكن‭ ‬في‭ ‬البحر‭ ‬أنه‭  ‬

والاصح‭ ‬أن‭ ‬من‭ ‬بينه‭ ‬وبينها‭ ‬حائل‭ ‬كالغائب،‭ ‬وأقره‭ ‬المصنف‭ ‬قائلا‭: ‬والمراد‭ ‬بقولي‭ ‬فللمكي‭ ‬مكي‭ ‬يعاين‭ ‬الكعبة‭ (‬ولغيره‭) ‬أي‭ ‬غير‭ ‬معاينها‭ (‬إصابة‭ ‬جهتها‭) ‬بأن‭ ‬يبقى‭ ‬شئ‭ ‬من‭ ‬سطح

الوجه‭ ‬مسامتا‭ ‬للكعبة‭ ‬أو‭ ‬لهوائها،‭ ‬بأن‭ ‬يفرض‭ ‬من‭ ‬تلقاء‭ ‬وجه‭ ‬مستقبلها‭ ‬حقيقة‭ ‬في‭ ‬بعض‭ ‬البلاد‭ ‬خط‭ ‬على‭ ‬زاوية‭ ‬قائمة‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬الافق‭ ‬مارا‭ ‬على‭ ‬الكعبة،‭ ‬وخط‭ ‬آخر‭ ‬يقطعه‭ ‬على‭ ‬زاويتين‭ ‬قائمتين‭ ‬يمنة‭ ‬ويسرة‭.‬