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What was the qibla for prayer in the Meccan period, before migration?

I remember stories from sirah that the Prophet used to pray at the Kaaba during his stay in Mecca and I've always assumed that it meant that he faced the Kaaba.

However I also know that the qiblah was changed around an year after the migration to Medinah, from Bait-ul-Muqadas to Kaaba?

So was the qiblah in Mecca also Bait-ul-Muqadas, or was it changed twice or is there something else?

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There are different views on what the qiblah was before the migration to Medinah, the following claims exist:

  • It was Bayt al-Maqdis in Jerusalem.

  • It was Ka’bah in Mecca. This was changed to Bayt al-Maqdis in Jerusalem after migration for a period of 16-17 months and then was reverted back to the Ka’bah.

  • It was both. During the stay in Mecca the Muslims prayed on one side of the Ka’bah so that they could face both the Ka’bah and the Bayt al-Maqdis. However after migration they could no longer face both and so they faced Bayt al-Maqdis for some time before the qiblah was changed to the Ka’bah. See Musnad Ahmad.

Ref: Tafsir al-Qurtubi and Tafsir Ibn Kathir

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The first qiblah was indeed Bait Al Maqdes , it was later changed in the Quran to the Kaaba , approximately one year (or perhaps a little less) after the migration to Medina .
Concerning the Meccan period the prophet would sometimes pray at the Kaaba , however , he was facing Bait Al Maqdes .
So no , it was only changed once.

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  • "The first qiblah was indeed Bait Al Maqdes" - This sentence should be limited only to the Quraysh and surrounding tribes during the time of the Prophet (SAW). We know the Kabah was the qiblah for some of the earlier prophets.
    – Ahmed
    Oct 9, 2018 at 5:15
  • @Ahmed , He's asking specifically about the Meccan period in the early Islamic age , to which I have answered that it was Bait Al Maqdes , the qiblah for earlier prophets pre-islam , isn't part of the question .
    – SongBird
    Oct 19, 2018 at 13:58

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