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The Earth is not flat so what is the concept of facing Kabbah during Prayer. Does it have a meaning?

Consider you are on the antipode of the Kabbah which is somewhere in Pacific ocean, if you are near that region, you can literally pray in any direction.

On the other hand if you are in a flight or in a car, the direction of the plane or car will constantly change so it is not practical to face the Kabbah. Imagine that you have gone to the moon, how will you pray there?

So my question is what is the significance of facing Kabbah during prayer? Is there any history behind it?

6

The Earth is not flat, but that doesn't exactly make facing a direction towards the Qibla erroneous.

Because the Earth is almost a sphere, this is almost the same as saying that the Qiblah from a place is the direction in which a bird would start flying in order to get to the Kaaba by the shortest possible way.

Regarding the direction of Qibla while travelling on bus/flights etc, see http://spa.qibla.com/issue_view.asp?HD=3&ID=2214&CATE=405

Also, praying in the orbit the Qibla is to be decided to the best of the astronaut/scientist's knowledge (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qibla#From_space)

Also, in case of any confusion, do not worry. But every effort to align to the perfect direction and doing so, is a symbol of unity and shall be taken as valid if Allah wills inshallah.

Allah says in Surat Al-Baqarah 2:177

Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah , the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous.

And every accident, and faults to which we humans are always prone to, may also be forgiven. For Allah is oft forgiving and merciful.

5

Asalamu wa alaikum,

Allah says in surat Al Bakarah Ayah 143:

كَذَٲلِكَ جَعَلۡنَـٰكُمۡ أُمَّةً۬ وَسَطً۬ا لِّتَڪُونُواْ شُہَدَآءَ عَلَى ٱلنَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ ٱلرَّسُولُ عَلَيۡكُمۡ شَهِيدً۬ا‌ۗ وَمَا جَعَلۡنَا ٱلۡقِبۡلَةَ ٱلَّتِى كُنتَ عَلَيۡہَآ إِلَّا لِنَعۡلَمَ مَن يَتَّبِعُ ٱلرَّسُولَ مِمَّن يَنقَلِبُ عَلَىٰ عَقِبَيۡهِ‌ۚ وَإِن كَانَتۡ لَكَبِيرَةً إِلَّا عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ هَدَى ٱللَّهُ‌ۗ وَمَا كَانَ ٱللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَـٰنَكُمۡ‌ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ بِٱلنَّاسِ لَرَءُوفٌ۬ رَّحِيمٌ۬ (١٤٣)

Thus have We made of you an Ummah justly balanced That ye might be witnesses over the nations and the Messenger a witness over yourselves; and We appointed the Qiblah to which thou wast used, only to test those who followed the Messenger from those who would turn on their heels (from the faith). Indeed it was (a change) momentous except to those guided by Allah. And never would Allah make your faith of no effect. For Allah is to all people most surely full of kindness, Most Merciful. (143)

The reason why we face the Qiblah is, in the days the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon Him came, the Qiblah then was towards Jami' Al Aqsa , so Allah change it to the Kabah to see who would follow and who will not.

قَدۡ نَرَىٰ تَقَلُّبَ وَجۡهِكَ فِى ٱلسَّمَآءِ‌ۖ فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبۡلَةً۬ تَرۡضَٮٰهَا‌ۚ فَوَلِّ وَجۡهَكَ شَطۡرَ ٱلۡمَسۡجِدِ ٱلۡحَرَامِ‌ۚ وَحَيۡثُ مَا كُنتُمۡ فَوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمۡ شَطۡرَهُ ۥ‌ۗ وَإِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبَ لَيَعۡلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ ٱلۡحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمۡ‌ۗ وَمَا ٱللَّهُ بِغَـٰفِلٍ عَمَّا يَعۡمَلُونَ (١٤٤)

We see the turning of thy face (for guidance) to the heavens; now shall We turn thee to a Qiblah that shall please thee. Turn then thy face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque; wherever ye are turn your faces in that direction. The people of the book know well that that is the truth from their Lord nor is Allah unmindful of what they do. (144)

Facing the Ka'bah is a symbol of unity, and the Ka'bah and what is around it is blessed.

  • Actually I am aware of that. It was Masjid-e-Iqsa first then Khana Kabbah. But why should a Musim face khana kaba in order to prayer – muslim1 Jun 21 '12 at 23:19
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    Because if we don't than we will show we do not follow. and we face the Ka'ba because it is blessed . – مجاهد Jun 21 '12 at 23:20
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    @Thecrocodilehunter its obvious that it is a order in Quran and not facing would be disobeying Allah. Why exactly Allah ordered this is also in the same verse. – Muhammad Hasan Khan Jun 22 '12 at 2:55
  • @HasanKhan, I agree with you but wouldn't I be disobeying God if I am praying on the moon where I can't face Kabbah. In that case would it be best not to Go to the moon because I cannot offer prayer there facing Kabbah or I should just ignore what God said in the holy Quran. – muslim1 Jun 22 '12 at 20:35
  • @HasanKhan please give a citation – Ashu Jun 23 '12 at 4:54
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It is a symbol of unity (all participants in the prayer facing the same direction)

As stated in the Quran:

For every nation there is a direction to which they face (in their prayers). So hasten towards all that is good. Wheresoever you may be, God will bring you together (on the Day of Resurrection). Truly, God is Able to do all things. And from wheresoever you start forth (for prayers), turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid-al-Haram (at Mecca), that is indeed the truth from your Lord. And God is not unaware of what you do. (Quran 2:148-149)

Also The qibla was not always oriented towards Mecca. The first Muslims prayed towards the al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Around sixteen months after Prophet Muhammad and his followers migrated from Mecca to the city of Medina, the qibla was changed to the Kaba. According to accounts by Prophet Muhammad's companions, the change happened very suddenly. During the noon prayer, Prophet Muhammad, may God praise him, received a revelation from God instructing him to, "Turn your face towards the Masjid al Haram".

“Thus, we have made you real believers in Islamic Monotheism, true followers of Prophet Muhammad and his legal ways, a just nation, witnesses over mankind and the Messenger a witness over you. And We made the Qibla (prayer direction towards Jerusalem) which you used to face, only to test those who followed the Messenger from those who would turn on their heels (i.e. disobey the Messenger). Indeed, it was great (heavy) except for those whom God guided. And God would never make your prayers to be lost (i.e. your prayers offered towards Jerusalem). Truly, God is full of kindness, the Most Merciful towards humankind.”

“Verily! We have seen the turning of your (Muhammad) face towards the heaven. Surely, We shall turn you to a Qibla (prayer direction) that shall please you, so turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid- al-Haram (at Mecca). And wheresoever you people are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction...” (Quran 2:143-144)

Thus changing the direction of prayer establishes Mecca as the fixed central point for worship. It establishes a common sense or purpose.

It is important the Muslims make every effort to face the right direction when praying; however, slight deviations do not invalidate a person’s prayer. Prophet Muhammad said, What is between the east and the west is qibla

Hope your doubt is cleared.

-1

It is a symbol of unity (all participants in the prayer facing the same direction) as well as symbol of respect for the Ka'aba. In the following Ayah, Allah makes it very clear that where we face during prayer isn't really that important.

Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah , the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous.

(Al-Baqara 2:177)

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    -1 not a well researched answer. Allah has ordered in Quran to face Kabah for prayers. This ayah doesn't make that order unimportant or optional. See the other answer. – Muhammad Hasan Khan Jun 22 '12 at 2:55
  • @HasanKhan - I did not say the Ayah made it optional. But it does stress that the facing of the Qibla is symbolic at best, which is what I'm saying. This Ayah is used by scholars as proof that prayer is not dependent on geographic restrictions such as the ones in the OP (praying inside a moving vessel, praying on another planet/moon). – System Down Jun 22 '12 at 4:51

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