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Our Qibla 

Etymologically, the Arabic word qiblah (قبلة) means "direction". In Islamic ritual and law, it refers to a special direction faced by Muslims during prayers and other religious rituals.

For 13 years in Mecca the Prophet (pbuh) was ordered to pray towards Bayt Al-Maqdis (Jerusalem), and to make the Ka’ba in between whenever he could (1). That order was not vain, but rather there was a divine reason as stated in the Holy Quran, “We assigned your former direction [Bayt Al-Maqdis] of prayer only to distinguish those who would remain faithful to the Messenger from those who would lose faith.” (2). This distinguishment would happen because the people of Mecca had a strong emotional longing towards the Ka’ba, thus Allah (s.w.t) wanted to differentiate between those who truly submit to the Prophet (pbuh) from those who were not sincere in their faith. Only a true follower would abandon their emotional longing and culture for the Prophet’s command. Another reason was that the Ka’ba was a place of idols worshipped by polytheists. Thus, the Prophet (pbuh) complied with the divine command to temporally turn toward Bayt al-Maqdis, and thus, their direction was different from the direction of polytheists.
The command continued for seven months (3) after the Prophet (pbuh) migrated to Medina. This was until Jews took facing Bayt Al-Maqdis during prayers to be the evidence of a flaw in Islam and the truth of their own religion. They shamed the Prophet (pbuh) by rebuking the very fact that his religion and its laws supersede all previous laws, but he does not yet have an independent 'Qiblah' and offers his prayers facing the 'Qiblah' of the Jews. This hurt the Prophet (pbuh) to a point where he abhorred facing their direction and desired to face the Ka’ba. He emptied his heart with Gabriel, so Gabriel replied, “Ask your lord to change your directions towards it, for He (s.w.t) does not reject your requests.”, and so he did (4).
Allah’s (s.w.t) reply came quick, “Indeed, we see you ˹O Prophet˺ turning your face towards the heaven. Now We will make you turn towards a direction ˹of prayer˺ that will please you. So, turn your face towards the Sacred Mosque ˹in Mecca˺—wherever you are, turn your faces towards it. Those who were given the Scripture certainly know this to be the truth from their Lord. And Allah is never unaware of what they do.” (5). 
Allah (s.w.t) accepted the Prophet’s request and commanded him to change the qiblah towards the Ka’ba while the Prophet (pbuh) was praying noon prayers - after performing two rak'as of the prayer - in the direction of Bayt Al-Maqdis. That was while Muslims were praying behind him; men behind the Prophet (pbuh) and women behind the men. So, he (pbuh) redirected them to the Ka’ba by turning from where he was standing to practically the opposite side (6).

 (1) Al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 3, p. 253.
(2) Sura Al-Baqarah, v.143.
(3) In some narrations 17 months.
(4) Tafsir Al-Imam Al-Askari, p.312/492.
(5) Sura Al-Baqarah, v.144.
(6) Man lā yaḥḍuruh al-faqīh, vol. 1, p. 275; Majma’ Al-Biyan, v.1, p.413.; Al-Durra al-thamīna, p. 126. Other reports state that the Prophet (pbuh) moved from his place to the other end of the masjid.


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