#28 – Change of Qiblah
Feb 14 – 20, 2022
Rajab 13 – 19, 1443


Change of Qiblah

What have Allah and His Messenger said about

Change of Qiblah

قَدْ نَرَىٰ تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِى ٱلسَّمَآءِ ۖ فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةً تَرْضَىٰهَا ۚ فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْحَرَامِ ۚ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّوا۟ وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُۥ ۗ وَإِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُوا۟ ٱلْكِتَـٰبَ لَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ ٱلْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ ۗ وَمَا ٱللَّهُ بِغَـٰفِلٍ عَمَّا يَعْمَلُونَ
We have certainly seen the turning of your face, [O Muḥammad], toward the heaven, and We will surely turn you to a qiblah with which you will be pleased. So turn your face [i.e., yourself] toward al-Masjid al-Ḥarām. And wherever you [believers] are, turn your faces [i.e., yourselves] toward it [in prayer]. Indeed, those who have been given the Scripture [i.e., the Jews and the Christians] well know that it is the truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do.

Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayah 144
حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو نُعَيْمٍ، سَمِعَ زُهَيْرًا، عَنْ أَبِي إِسْحَاقَ، عَنِ الْبَرَاءِ، رضى الله عنه أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم صَلَّى إِلَى بَيْتِ الْمَقْدِسِ سِتَّةَ عَشَرَ شَهْرًا أَوْ سَبْعَةَ عَشَرَ شَهْرًا، وَكَانَ يُعْجِبُهُ أَنْ تَكُونَ قِبْلَتُهُ قِبَلَ الْبَيْتِ، وَإِنَّهُ صَلَّى ـ أَوْ صَلاَّهَا ـ صَلاَةَ الْعَصْرِ، وَصَلَّى مَعَهُ قَوْمٌ، فَخَرَجَ رَجُلٌ مِمَّنْ كَانَ صَلَّى مَعَهُ، فَمَرَّ عَلَى أَهْلِ الْمَسْجِدِ وَهُمْ رَاكِعُونَ قَالَ أَشْهَدُ بِاللَّهِ لَقَدْ صَلَّيْتُ مَعَ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قِبَلَ مَكَّةَ، فَدَارُوا كَمَا هُمْ قِبَلَ الْبَيْتِ، وَكَانَ الَّذِي مَاتَ عَلَى الْقِبْلَةِ قَبْلَ أَنْ تُحَوَّلَ قِبَلَ الْبَيْتِ رِجَالٌ قُتِلُوا لَمْ نَدْرِ مَا نَقُولُ فِيهِمْ، فَأَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ ‏{‏وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَانَكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِالنَّاسِ لَرَءُوفٌ رَحِيمٌ ‏}‏
Narrated Al-Bara: The Prophet (ﷺ) prayed facing Bait ul-Maqdis (i.e. Jerusalem) for sixteen or seventeen months but he wished that his Qibla would be the Ka`ba (at Mecca). (So Allah Revealed (2.144) and he offered `Asr prayers(in his Mosque facing Ka`ba at Mecca) and some people prayed with him. A man from among those who had prayed with him, went out and passed by some people offering prayer in another mosque, and they were in the state of bowing. He said, “I, (swearing by Allah,) testify that I have prayed with the Prophet (ﷺ) facing Mecca.” Hearing that, they turned their faces to the Ka`ba while they were still bowing. Some men had died before the Qibla was changed towards the Ka`ba. They had been killed and we did not know what to say about them (i.e. whether their prayers towards Jerusalem were accepted or not). So Allah revealed:– “And Allah would never make your faith (i.e. prayer) to be lost (i.e. your prayers offered (towards Jerusalem). Truly Allah is Full of Pity, Most Merciful towards mankind.” (2.143)

[Sahih al-Bukhari 4486]

The Orientation to Qiblah

This verse begins by speaking of how deeply the Holy Prophet (SAW) wished that the Kabah be appointed as the Qiblah of the Muslims. This inclination has been explained in different ways, but there is no real contradiction involved in these different views. For example, it has been said that before prophethood was conferred on him, he used to follow, out of the impulsion of his own nature, the way of Sayyidna Ibrahim (Abraham) was, and that when he began to receive the Revelation, the Holy Qur’an itself designated his Shari’ah as being in total accord with the Abrahamic Way. Moreover, the Qiblah of Sayyidna Ibrahim عليه السلام as well as that of Sayyidna Ismail عليه السلام had been the Ka’bah. So, it was quite in the nature of things for him to wish that the Ka’bah be appointed as the Qiblah of the Muslims. An additional factor was that the Arab tribes, in spite of being associators, at least claimed to be the followers of the Abrahamic Way, and acknowledged the Ka’bah as their Qiblah in contradiction to the Jews. Once the Ka’bah had been made the Qiblah of the Muslims, the Arabs could be expected to find Islam more acceptable. As for the hope that the adoption of the Baytul-Maqdis as the Qiblah would bring the Jews closer to Islam, it had been dashed by the events of the last sixteen or seventeen months, for the hostility of the Jews to Islam, fed by their vanity, had only been growing more intense.

Whatever be the motive, the Holy Prophet (SAW) was very keen to see the Ka’bah appointed as the Qiblah. Now, prophets are as close to Allah as man can ever be, and this exalted station teaches them to observe a very strict spiritual etiquette – they never submit a request before Allah until and unless they have received the permission to do so. This principle leads us to believe that the Holy Prophet (SAW) had already been allowed to pray for his wish to be fulfilled, and that he hoped his prayer would be granted. So, he used to turn his face again and again to the sky, anxiously waiting for an angel to appear and bring the injunction he had been wishing for.

In the present verse, Allah describes this state of the Holy Prophet (SAW) in an appreciative manner, and promises to assign him a Qiblah that he would like. Immediately after the promise, there follows the commandment

فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْحَرَامِ

“So turn your face towards the Sacred Mosque”

Here we find a manifestation of the subtle workings of divine grace – the Holy Prophet (SAW) was, to begin with, granted the joy of hearing a promise made, and, immediately after, the greater joy of seeing the promise fulfilled. (Qurtubi, Jaşsāş and Mazhari)

[Maarif ul Quran Vol-1 (pg 382-383) , Maktabah Dar al Uloom, Translation by Prof. Muhammad Hasan Askari & Prof. Muhammad Shamim]

Spiritual Reminders

A New Beginning
Surely the first and most significant event involving the Ka’bah after Hijrah was the turning of the Qiblah towards Ka’bah. We know that the prophet (SAW) prayed towards Bayt Al-Maqdis for the first 16 or 17 months after migrating. Here, a question arises; did he also pray towards Bayt Al-Maqdis at Makkah, when he was living there? We’ve hinted towards the answer to this in the previous episode where we referenced some narrations that mentioned the prophet (SAW) praying towards Baitullah in such a way that he was also facing Bayt Al-Maqdis; basically, he was aligning the two Qiblas by praying from the side of Al Hajar Al-Aswad and Al Rukn Al-Yamani. He was in fact praying towards Bayt Al-Maqdis, but not compromising the Qibla of the Ka’bah.

After 16 or 17 months, after Hijra, and after the prophet (SAW) desired to have the Qibla changed towards the Ka’bah, finally the instructions came, that [“We have certainly seen the turning of your face, (O Muhammad,) towards the heaven, and We will surely turn you to a Qibla 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.”]. The prophet (SAW) prayed one salah to Bayt Al-Maqdis and the next salah he offered to Al-Masjid Al-Haram, and the story of the sahaba (RA) who heard another companion announcing that the Qibla had been changed and then changed their Qibla right in salah resulting in the Masjid being named Masjid Al-Qiblatain, this is well known as famous.
This was a major incident. Of course, there were some people that were extremely displeased; the people of the book, especially from the Jewish community at that time, felt very offended that the prophet (SAW) had left the Qibla of the prophets of Bani Isra’il. However, this was something that Allah (SWT) had already designated that was going to happen. The prophet (SAW) was already promised, “We will surely turn you to a qiblah with which you will be pleased.”

What matters here is that, before the prophet (SAW)’s time, and during his life, the Ka’bah has been an iconic monument that represents Tawhid and attachment to Allah (SWT), and during the prophet (SAW)’s time, it represents the centre of where all the activities involving prophethood took place from, and all things eventually come back to the Ka’bah, and until the Day of Judgement, the Ka’bah will remain the center of the Muslims and a point of unity; not just in the direction that we face when we pray, but also as an abiding message that tawhid brings us all together. Our belief in Allah (SWT) and the deen of Allah (SWT); in this lies our unity, and when we unify ourselves around these important things, then it is very much possible that we can overcome our differences and find unity even amongst the most difficult differences. May Allah (SWT) increase our love for him, his deen, and his house, and may Allah (SWT) make us from those who visit his house again and again.

[Above section adapted from a talk delivered by Mufti Aasim Rashid titled “History of the Ka’abah”]



The New Qiblah
Another event of great significance featured the same month, which was a Divine injunction ordering that Al-Qiblah be changed from Jerusalem to the Sacred Mosque in Makkah. That was of a great advantage to the Muslims at two levels. First, it brought about a kind of social sifting, so to speak, in terms of the hypocrites of the Jews and others weak at heart, and revealed their true nature and inclinations; the ranks of the Muslims were thereby purged from those discordprone elements. Second, facing a new Qiblah, the Sacred Mosque in Makkah, refers gently to a new role awaiting the Muslims to take up, and would start only after the repatriation of the Muslims to their Sacred City, Makkah for it is not logical for the Muslims to leave their Qiblah at the mercy of non-Muslims. The Muslims, therefore, at the behest of Allah (SWT) and on account of those Divine clues, augmented their activities and their tendency towards striving in the cause of Allah and encountering His enemies in a decisive battle were greatly intensified.

[Al-Raheeq Al-Makhtum, page 130 – 131, Issam Diab’s English Translation]

Read Next Blog: Al-Isra’ wal-Mi’raj

Sunnah Acts

An Etiquette of Relieving Oneself
Abu Huraira said:

When any one amongst you squats for answering the call of nature, he should neither turn his face towards the Qibla nor turn his back towards it.

[Sahih Muslim 265]


Dua of Ibrahim (AS) for Makkah
رَبِّ ٱجْعَلْ هَـٰذَا ٱلْبَلَدَ ءَامِنًا وَٱجْنُبْنِى وَبَنِىَّ أَن نَّعْبُدَ ٱلْأَصْنَامَ
“My Lord, make this city [i.e., Makkah] secure and keep me and my sons away from worshipping idols.

[Surah Ibrahim, Ayah 35]

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