There are two places where one can pray (uphold Salat) in any direction, one is Masjid al-Haram and the other is Masjid Al-Aqsa.

Is this correct?

If this is correct, is there any explanation about the reason that any direction is permitted inside them (other than Masjid Al-Aqsa being the first qibla)?

(I would prefer answer with references to primary sources like Quran and/or Hadith).

  • 3
    +1 good question, but what is the source of the quote?
    – Ansari
    Commented Aug 25, 2012 at 20:58
  • @Ansari, it is not really a quote (I used the indent to highlight it from the rest of the question). AFAIR, I have heard this several times from different people. This came up in a discussion I had with a few friends yesterday, we decided to check its correctness and if I remembered correctly, and so here is the question.
    – Kaveh
    Commented Aug 25, 2012 at 21:01

4 Answers 4


This is most likely incorrect. There are a couple of reasons

Praying in the direction of Masjid-al-Haram is mentioned in the holy Quran, Bakara 144, as mentioned by brother Ahmad Han in his answer

Indeed We see the turning of your face to heaven, so We shall surely turn you to a qiblah which you shall like; turn then your face towards the Sacred Mosque, and wherever you are, turn your face towards it, and those who have been given the Book most surely know that it is the truth from their Lord; and Allah is not at all heedless of what they do. - shakir (quran 2:144)

The sacred mosque here means Masjid-al-Haram, the current Kaaba.

In order for something to overrule the verdict of the Quran, it must be more powerful than the Quran. There is not such source that is more powerful than the Quran. Nothing can overrule the Quran. If it mentioned in the Quran, you must obey it.

Citing the above two points, it is not possible to face Al-Aqsa Mosque for prayer. That would be equivalent to disobeying Allah commands.

Can I pray in any direction inside in Masjid-al-Haram

There is no indication that Muslims are allowed to pray in any direction in Masjid-al-haram. If it happened so, it must have happened in the life of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) but it probably never happened.

It is logical that when you are in Masjid-al-Haram, you fact the center kaaba. There is no confusion about it. If you do not face the kaaba, or face the opposite direction, wouldn't that be insulting the kaaba right in its own? Turning your back towards kaaba is not something that is considered good among many scholars.

Islam strictly believe in discipline. When Muslims pray they are repeatedly asked to make a proper line. This line would not be possible if one person is face one side and the other in another direction.

Facing different direction is against message of unity in Islam. Islam by instinct will not allow it. There is no such freedom in Islam

Can I pray in any direction inside in Masjid-al-Aqsa

Masjid-al-Aqsa was never mentioned by Quran by name. It has been referenced as the farthest mosque [as most scholars agree] in verse 17:1. That was related to the prophet's ascension to the heavens. Although the Quran does establish that there was another Qibla used for prayer:

And We did not make the qiblah which you used to face except that We might make evident who would follow the Messenger from who would turn back on his heels - Sahih International (Al-bakara 2:143)

It does not specifically say what really was this Qibla. Almost all scholars unanimously believe it was Al-Aqsa Mosque.

There is a little bit of problem though, Al-Aqsa Mosque was not built at the time. It was built later after the death of the prophet by Hazrat Umar. It was then rebuilt a couple of times by Muslim rulers. The Dome of the Rock also did not exist at the time and was built later by Muslim ruler Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan.

As such, although given high regards by Muslims, Al-Aqsa Mosque's existence as a proper mosque or temple is in question itself.

It would be safe to say, no one is allowed to face in any direction in Al-Aqsa mosque. They must fact the Kaabba and abide by Allah's command. And it just dawned on me when writing this answer, I believe Al-Aqsa mosque does point towards Mecca which is proof that it was built later.

Bottom line

This is just a myth among many others that probably exist out there.

  • I don't think there's much of a problem in the fact that a physical structure may not have existed at that time. I think it is the site itself that bears all the significance.
    – green4rrow
    Commented Nov 30, 2013 at 3:02

Every time I read the suratu'l Bakara I get surprised that so many times it repeated that one should turn his face to the direction of Masjid-ul Haram where ever he is.

The ayats I found after a quick look up:

قَدْ نَرَى تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَاء فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةً تَرْضَاهَا فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّواْ وُجُوِهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ أُوْتُواْ الْكِتَابَ لَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ وَمَا اللّهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا يَعْمَلُونَ
We have certainly seen the turning of your face, [O Muhammad], toward the heaven, and We will surely turn you to a qiblah with which you will be pleased. So turn your face toward al-Masjid al-Haram. And wherever you [believers] are, turn your faces toward it [in prayer]. Indeed, those who have been given the Scripture well know that it is the truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do.
Bakara 144

وَمِنْ حَيْثُ خَرَجْتَ فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَإِنَّهُ لَلْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّكَ وَمَا اللّهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ
So from wherever you go out [for prayer, O Muhammad] turn your face toward al- Masjid al-Haram, and indeed, it is the truth from your Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what you do.
Bakara 149

وَمِنْ حَيْثُ خَرَجْتَ فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ لِئَلاَّ يَكُونَ لِلنَّاسِ عَلَيْكُمْ حُجَّةٌ إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ مِنْهُمْ فَلاَ تَخْشَوْهُمْ وَاخْشَوْنِي وَلأُتِمَّ نِعْمَتِي عَلَيْكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ
And from wherever you go out [for prayer], turn your face toward al-Masjid al-Haram. And wherever you [believers] may be, turn your faces toward it in order that the people will not have any argument against you, except for those of them who commit wrong; so fear them not but fear Me. And [it is] so I may complete My favor upon you and that you may be guided.
Bakara 150

Yes, in the masjid called "Masjid-ul Aqsa" (This name was given to there 50 years after the ayat 17:1 had arrived because of political power struggles between the governors of Jerusalem and Makkah. This renaming happened after the death of the nabi Muhammad (pbuh). It is a long story. Its original name was Baytu'l Makdis.) you must turn your face to Mascid'ul Haram.

An interesting question would had been Then, where should I turn my face inside Masjid'ul Haram?. Inside Masjid'ul Haram, it is sunnah to turn Kaaba.

Inside Kaaba? I don't know. And I don't think that it is practically possible to get in there; it is locked all the time.


The only place you can face any direction is inside the Kaaba itself. I heard a brother say once that a select few people in the Masjid were given the opportunity whilst it was opened for cleaning and his uncle, amongst others, got a chance to go inside.


To my point of view, I don't think that something can have the centre if it is not in the circular form unless the center found in it is of the circle surrounding,therefore the kaaba can be the center of the Muslims who surround it in theirs prayers everywhere in the world.The unity is found when there's a convergence of of all the differences.

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