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Qibla Direction and Prayer Validity

Ustadh Tabraze Azam is asked about coming to realize that one has given others the wrong qibla direction.

Question:

Insha Allah this finds you very well.

I wanted to ask about a situation related to the prayer validity and the qibla. Some months ago we had friends visit our home to which we had recently shifted. The guests needed to pray and when asked about the Qibla, by complete accident I told them the wrong direction, not even realizing my error until later on.

When I realized, though it was a mistake, I felt really bad, but I also realized, to my relief, that the direction I had told them, alhamduliLlah, was not completely off. (It was within the 45 degrees of the exact Qibla direction, to the best of my knowledge, that I had learned would not affect the validity of prayer.) And so I thought insha Allah, it’s nothing to worry about and I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to alarm anyone either if it was not a problem.

I have been thinking about it now though and wondering if I did the right thing then? Where I live people do refer to Hanafi scholars but there is also a general confusion about whether or not to follow one madhab (people take other rulings as well), and I was thinking in that case should I have mentioned it?

May Allah reward and bless the SHG team, amin.

Jazak Allah khayr.

Answer:

The basis is that you would give a guest the exact direction of the qibla. If you mistakenly gave a direction which was less than forty-five degrees away from the qibla, this would also suffice because the Hanafi school allows for such digression, with or without intent. 

In times of religious confusion and unclarity, if an act of worship is valid and acceptable according to one of the legal schools (madhahib), this is usually going to be sufficient for most. This is particularly the case when a certain community or people are effectively ascribed to a given school. 

Please also see Facing the General Direction of the Qibla When the Exact Direction is Known.

And Allah Most High knows best.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

 

Revisiting The First Qiblah, by Dr Faraz Mughal

The Holy city of al-Quds (Jerusalem), also known as Bayt al-Maqdis ‘the house of purification’, holds great status in Islam. Dr Faraz Mughal explains why.

The Al-Aqsa Sanctuary, where the Dome of the Rock (Qubbat al-Sakhrah) and the Masjid al-Aqsa reside, is the holiest site in Jerusalem for Muslims. It is a site and space where Prophets walked, worshipped and lived. It has been blessed by Allah and referred to in The Qu’ran:
‘Glory be to Him who took His slave on a journey by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa whose surroundings We have blessed, in order to show him some of Our Signs. He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing. {Surat al-Isra 17:1} Tafsir Al-Jalalayn, (Jalalu’d-Din Al-Mahalli, Jalalu’d Din As-Suyuti). 
The Prophet Muhammad , travelled in his physical and wakeful state to Masjid al-Aqsa on the night journey (al-Isra) and from there ascended to the highest stations of the heavens (al-Miraj). All of the Prophets (~124,000) prayed behind the Prophet Muhammad in Masjid al-Aqsa on that night. Angels have descended with Allah’s message to chosen Prophets in this land.    

Qiblah

Masjid al-Aqsa was the first qiblah of the Muslims. The Prophet would pray towards Jerusalem during his time in Makkah and for a short while upon entering Madinah. However, through revelation the qiblah was refocused towards Makkah. The choosing of this first qiblah by Allah should encourage us to reflect on the status of Masjid al-Aqsa in the religion. It is a masjid not often spoken about when compared to the Masjid of the Prophet and Masjid al-Haram, but it is a masjid as in the hadith (Tabarani) where prayers can be rewarded up to 500 times.      

Ramadan & Eid

From my time in al-Quds this past Ramadan, it became apparent that the Palestinians were delighted that I was here sharing a portion of this blessed month with them. I was regularly asked in good English where I was from and on my reply I was always greeted with the traditional welcome of ‘ahlan wa sahlan’. The local people were always smiling and went about their business with an air of prophetic contentment in what are extremely challenging circumstances.
The third jummu’ah of the month attracted around 250,000 people for the congregation. Praising of the Prophet occurred after the completion of each adhan and unit of prayer in the daily tarawih, highlighting, the great love the people have for the Prophet ﷺ. Walking through the al-Aqsa sanctuary (35 acres) one feels the blessings of the earth and wonders whether you are walking on where Maryam (peace be upon her) beseeched her Lord or where Prophet Dawud (peace be upon him) praised Allah. One of my teachers, Imam Khalid Hussain, upon asking for some advice before departing encouraged me to spend as much time in the sanctuary as possible. It is prudent to remember that the entire sanctuary is blessed and not only the Masjid.
One stares in awe at the beautiful nature of the Dome of the Rock, built in the time of the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan (72 AH). The inscribed Sur’ah Ya’sin on the perimeter of the dome is majestic and results in one marvelling at the construction of one of the most glorious pieces of architecture in the world.
It was a joy to see all of the families and the surrounding area making an effort for Eid al-Fitr. The souk was filled with shops and stalls of pastries, sweets, pancakes and kebabs and the streetlights lit up the evening sky. The laughter of the children playing resonated loudly as you make your way through the souk to the masjid gates.    

Imam-al Ghazali

It was an honour to be able to attend classes on the Ihya ulum al-Din {books of love and condemnation of self-delusion} of Imam al-Ghazali by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad in the Al-Aqsa sanctuary. These were held after fajr adjacent to The Dome of the Rock and near the Golden Gate where it is said Imam al-Ghazali wrote part of the Revival of Religious Sciences.

Visiting Al-Aqsa

It is important that Muslims in the West make a collective, concerted and conscious effort to visit Masjid-al Aqsa. It may be easier to travel in groups with those experienced in visiting the area.
Abdullah ibn Umar relates, I asked the Prophet , ‘Apostle of Allah, tell us the legal injunction about (visiting) Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem).’ The Apostle of Allah said, ‘Go and pray there. If you cannot visit it and pray there, then send some oil to be used in the lamps’ (Bukhari).

Resources for seekers

[cwa id=’cta‘]

Should the Entrance of a House Be Facing the Qibla? [Shafi’i]

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: Should the entrance of a house be facing the qibla? My husband believes that the prosperity of our household depends on it.

Answer: Assalāmu ʿAlaykum,

I pray that you are well.

You can have the entrance to your residence face any direction convenient, or available.

There does not appear to be any established reason in our primary texts or legal corpus that indicates that the entrance of a house should be facing the direction of the Ka’ba.

We have not been given reason to hold that prosperity in a household is related to its entrance facing a specific direction.

Please also see:Can a Kitchen Stove Face the Qibla?

God knows best.

Shuaib Ally

Photo: edward musiak

Can a Kitchen Stove Face the Qibla?

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: Assalam alaykum,

Can a kitchen stove face the Qibla?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

You can have the stove face any direction convenient for you.

Having the stove face the direction of the Qibla is not blameworthy.
Facing or turning away from the Qibla is discussed in books of Islamic law with respect to purification, prayer and using the bathroom, not for other everyday affairs.

God knows best.

Shuaib Ally

What Was the Original Qibla Direction?

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: Assalam alaykum,

Is it correct that the original Qibla was set as the ka’ba in Mecca, then changed to the Holy Lands of Jerusalem, and then changed back to its original appointment?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

The scholarly position that seeks to make use of the available evidence is that that the Prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him) prayed during his stay in Makkah facing Jerusalem. In doing so, he would either place the Ka’ba between himself and Jerusalem, thus in effect facing both, or place it to the side, such that he was not turning his back to it, or face Jerusalem alone.

Upon migration to Medina, the direction of the Qibla continued to be Jerusalem, although it was then physically impossible for one to also face the Ka’ba, as Medina is north of Makkah.

This remained the Qibla for approximately another 16 months, at which point the prayer direction was changed to the Ka’ba in Medina.

Ibn Hajar notes that the opinion that the Prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him) first prayed towards the Ka’ba is weak, and requires postulating multiple instances of abrogation. The position outlined above, he argues, takes into account the available evidence and the narration of Ibn ‘Abbas that clearly indicates that the Prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him) faced Jerusalem while in Makkah.

Al-Hafidh al-‘Iraqi, in his versification of the life of the Prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him), wrote:

He would face in his prayer / in Makkah: al-Quds, but would place
The House before him as well / in obligatory and other prayers
After the Emigration likewise, towards al-Quds / for sixteen or seventeen months
The Qibla was changed after that / to God’s Ka’ba – how blessed a direction!

A more detailed discussion can be found in Ibn Hajar’s Fath, or Zarqani’s commentary on Qastallani’s Mawahib.

Sources: Fath al-Bari; al-Futuhat al-Subhaniyya; Sharh al-Mawahib

Shuaib Ally

What Should I Do after Discovering That I Was Mislead by the App of My Phone regarding the Qibla?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: As-salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatuLlahi wa barakatuh

After I moved to a new location, I used an app on my smart phone to find the direction of the Qibla. I found out that the direction the app points to is not consistent at all, so this morning I got up and went to the roof of our building to watch the sunrise. It turns out that it is more than 45° away from the Qibla.

Do I now have to repeat all my prayers?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

No, considering you took the means to pray in the correct direction, your prayers would be valid.

Please also see: Facing the General Direction of the Qibla When the Exact Direction is Known

And Allah alone gives success.

wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Turning to the Qibla While Praying: Is my Prayer Valid?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas
Question: Recently, while I was praying salatul dhuhr I discovered that I was not facing qibla. When I remembered, I turned towards the qibla while I was still praying and continued the prayer to the end. Is my prayer valid or should I pray it again?
Answer: assalamu `alaykum
In this situation, you would have to restart your prayer.
If you realized while praying that you were not facing the Qibla, you would be allowed to turn towards the Qibla and continue your prayer if you were genuinely unsure about the direction of the Qibla before commencing prayer and you had (a) asked someone or consulted a source or (b) exercised your own independent judgment as to where the Qibla was in the absence of the aforementioned. [Mawsili, al-ikhtiyar]
Salman
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Designing One’s Home with the Qibla in Mind

Answered by Sidi Wasim Shiliwala

Question: Please provide some guidance regarding how I should position toilets and beds so they are not pointed towards the Qibla incorrectly as I design my new house.  Thank you.

 

Answer: Walaikum As-salaam wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu,

May Allah reward you for your concern about the qibla and the etiquette related to it!

Etiquette Related to the Qibla

The sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is to respect and revere the prayer direction (qibla). This is indicated in several ahadith, such as the following:

“When one of you stands in his prayer, he is in close conversation with his Lord or his Lord is between him and his qibla. Therefore no one should spit in the direction of his qibla” [Sahih Bukhari, Kitab al-Salah]

“When any of you goes to relieve himself, he should not face the qibla nor turn his back on it. He should face the east or west.” [Sahih Bukhari, Kitab al-Wudu]

These ahadith demonstrate the sunnah of being mindful of the qibla, as it is the noblest of directions. Just as Muslims should observe proper etiquette with the Qur’an, we should also aim to observe proper etiquette with the qibla as well.

This etiquette entails that one faces the qibla when doing honorable and praiseworthy actions: doing wudhu, making dua, reciting the Qur’an, sacrificing animals, etc. It is similarly recommended to sleep on one’s right side while facing the qibla.

This etiquette also entails that one does not face the qibla in situations where one is exposing oneself: such as when relieving oneself, taking a bath, or having sexual relations. It is similarly recommended to avoid having one’s back or pointing one’s feet to the qibla.

Building a Home Around These Principles

Given the above principles, the following recommendations could be made with regard to structuring one’s home:

1. Toilets and showers should be perpendicular to the qibla direction. (If the qibla is North, then the toilets and showers are facing East-West). This way, one is neither facing the qibla nor turning one’s back on it while relieving oneself or taking a bath.

2. Sinks, on the other hand, should be positioned such that one is directly facing the qibla when doing wudhu.

3. Bedrooms should be designed such that a bed can be placed perpendicular to the qibla direction. The bed should be positioned so that someone sleeping on their right side will be facing the qibla.

4. If one is making a dedicated prayer room, all seating arrangements and prayer rugs should be oriented toward the qibla. This will ensure that people are facing the qibla not only while they are praying, but also while they are sitting for dhikr, dua, or Qur’an recitation.

5. If one has a study area, one could also orient the desk such that one is facing the qibla when studying, reading, or doing work.

With the proper intention, facing the qibla while even doing mundane tasks can result in greater reward from Allah. This is in addition to any reward one gets for showing reverence for the qibla, which is praiseworthy in itself. As Allah says in the Qur’an: “Whoever exalts the signs of Allah, indeed that is from the piety of hearts” [22:32].

*Keep in mind that “facing” the qibla means pointing in its general direction. So if the qibla is to the North, “facing it” would include the directions of North, Northeast, and Northwest as well.

Final Note

It is also important to remember that this endeavor is not meant to be excessively difficult. Remember that Allah tells us that He intends for us ease, not hardship (2:185) and that He does not burden a soul with more than it can bear (2:286). So while it is important to observe proper etiquette with the qibla, it is not expected of you to incur tremendous costs and labor to do so.

Unlike in earlier times, many Muslims nowadays use bathrooms with fixed toilets and sinks. Oftentimes, they do not have a say as what directions the toilets and sinks face. As such, it is understandable that many Muslims cannot deliberately observe the proper etiquette regarding the qibla, although it is still recommended for them to do what they can.

However, if you are able to design your home with the qibla in mind without undue hardship, then insha’Allah this little effort will result in a lifetime of reward for consistently observing proper etiquette with this noble direction.

Related Answers

Facing the Qibla When Relieving Oneself: Prohibitively Disliked

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

Is It Prohibited to Sleep on One’s Stomach?

Jazakum Allahu Khairan,
-Wasim

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani