Change of the Qibla

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Change of the qibla (Arabic: تحويل القبلة) is the event in which the qibla of Muslims (direction of performing some rituals) was redirected from al-Masjid al-Aqsa, in Bayt al-Maqids (Jerusalem), to the Ka'ba (in Mecca). The event occurred in Rajab, 2/January, 624, after the revelation of al-Qibla Verse (Q 2:144). According to the majority of historiographers, the change of qibla occurred in Masjid al-Qiblatayn in Medina in the middle of the zuhr prayer (noon prayer). One interesting point about the redirection of the qibla is how people turned in the middle of a congregational prayer to over 160 degrees.

The First Qibla and its Redirection

According to Islamic sources, the Prophet Muhammad (s) performed his prayers in the direction of Bayt al-Maqdis when he was in Mecca and in the early years of his stay in Medina, but he liked to have a qibla of his own and thus, he expected a revelation for the change of the qibla. When al-Qibla Verse was revealed, he was pleased and ordered Muslims to redirect toward al-Masjid al-Haram.[1]

Al-Qibla Verse

Main article: Al-Qibla Verse

The verse 144 of Sura al-Baqara (chapter 2), involving the order to redirect the qibla, is known as "al-Qibla Verse".[2]

Verses 142,[3] 143,[4] and 150[5] of Sura al-Baqara are also referred to as al-Qibla Verses. Some exegetes of the Qur'an take verses 142 to 144 of Sura al-Baqara to be al-Qibla Verses.[6]

Background

There are different hadiths and views about the background of the qibla:

  • According to some hadiths, the Ka'ba was the Qibla since the period of the prophet, Adam (a).[7] The prophet Ibrahim (a) reconstructed the Ka'ba,[8] and the prophet Musa (a) was told by God to redirect the qibla from al-Masjid al-Aqsa to Bayt al-Maqdis in order to save the former from polytheism and deviations.[9]
  • According to other hadiths, until two years after Hijra, the official qibla of Muslims was Bayt al-Maqdis.[10] At that time, the Ka'ba was a house for idols, and thus, saying prayers in its direction would imply respect for idols.[11]
  • Some people say: before Hijra, the Prophet (s) observed both qiblas whenever possible. For example, because of the geographical location of Mecca and Bayt al-Maqdis he could stand in the direction of Bayt al-Maqdis in a way that the Ka'ba could be between him and Bayt al-Maqdis. However, when it was not possible to do so, he only performed his prayers in the direction of al-Masjid al-Aqsa.[12] After his migration to Medina, it was not possible to observe both qiblas because of the geographical location of Medina, and thus, Bayt al-Maqdis was the only qibla of the Prophet (s) and Muslims.[13]
  • According to some other hadiths, in Mecca, Muslims were free to perform their prayers in any directions they wanted, but the Prophet (s) himself preferred Bayt al-Maqdis.[14]
  • There are hadiths according to which before Hijra, the Ka'ba was the qibla of Muslims.[15] This implies two redirections of the qibla, once from the Ka'ba to Bayt al-Maqdis and once again from Bayt al-Maqdis to the Ka'ba.
  • By an appeal to the verse 115 of Sura al-Baqara, "To Allah belong the east and the west: so whichever way you turn, there is the face of Allah!", some exegetical sources maintain that the Prophet (s) and other Muslims were free to turn toward either of the two qiblas.[16] To support this view, they appeal to the Prophet (s) not objecting to Bara' b. Ma'rur when he performed his prayer in the direction of the Ka'ba in a trip to Mecca before Hijra.[17] On the contrary, some people take the above Quranic verse to be concerned with nafila prayers (daily supererogatory prayers) when one is on a travel,[18] but according to some historical accounts, Bara' b. Ma'rur continued to say his prayers in the direction of the Ka'ba after Hijra, while the Prophet (s) still said his prayers in the direction of Bayt al-Maqdis. When the Prophet (s) heard about this, he prohibited Bara' from doing so, and he complied with the Prophet's (s) words.

How the qibla was Redirected

According to some hadiths, on the day of the change of the qibla, the Prophet (s) was saying zuhr prayer (Noon Prayer) in the direction of Bayt al-Maqdis. As usual, men were saying prayers behind him, and women were saying their prayers behind men. After performing two rak'as of the prayer, Jabra'il was sent to the Prophet (s). He revealed the verse 144 of Sura al-Baqara to him and redirected him to the Ka'ba.[19]

There are differences in the accounts of when the qibla was redirected or where the prayer was being performed at the time of the redirection of the qibla toward the Ka'ba.[20] On some accounts, it occurred in the Asr Prayer (afternoon preayer) or the Morning Prayer.[21]

The Place

There is no agreement among historians as to where the event of the redirection of the qibla occurred. Three places are mentioned in historical sources:

Masjid al-Qiblatayn where the change of the qibla occurred according to the majority of historians
  • The mosque in the area of Banu Salima in the northwestern part of Medina,[22] known as Masjid al-Qiblatayn.[23] The majority of the historians take this mosque to be the place where the redirection of the qibla occurred.[24]
  • The mosque of the Banu Salim b. 'Awf tribe where the Prophet (s) performed his first Friday Prayer.[25]

The Problem of Congregational Prayer

Bayt al-Maqdis is located in the northern direction of Medina, and al-Masjid al-Haram is located in its southern direction. Thus, the Prophet (s) turned from where he was standing to almost the reverse side.[27] This has led to the thought that in this way, men had to stay in front of the Prophet (s) who was the leader of the congregational prayer and women had to stay in front of men.[28] However, according to some sources, after the change of the qibla to the Ka'ba, the Prophet (s) moved from his place to the other end of the mosque[29] and people did the same and they all redirected themselves to the Ka'ba.[30] On this account, the leader of the congregational prayer did not only turn 180 or[31] 160 degrees, but also moved in order for there to be enough space for men and women saying their prayers behind him.[32]

Reasons for the change of the qibla

Exegetes of the Qur'an have mentioned different reasons for the change of the qibla.

  • When the Prophet (s) lived in Mecca, the Ka'ba was a place of idols worshipped by polytheists. Thus, the Prophet (s) complied with the divine command to temporally turn toward Bayt al-Maqdis, and thus, their direction was different from the direction of polytheists.[33]
  • When the Prophet's (s) government was established in Medina, the Muslim community was stabilized and they were clearly distinguished from others. Thus, there was no necessity for Bayt al-Maqdis to be a Qibla and the Prophet (s) wanted the redirection of the qibla. The Ka'ba was the oldest house of monotheism and the most original home for prophets. Moreover, after the ruling of the redirection of the qibla, Muslims were distinguished from Jews who turned toward Bayt al-Maqdis.[34]
  • When the Prophet (s) migrated to Medina, the Jews took his direction toward Bayt al-Maqdis to be evidence of a defect in Islam and the truth of their own religion (Q 2:146; Q 6:20)[35]. According to some hadiths, Jews in Medina claimed that Muslims had no qiblas of their own, and they had instructed the Muslims to turn toward Bayt al-Maqdis.[36]
  • The redirection of the qiblas was a test for true Muslims,[37] because the true followers of divine commands accepted the redirection without any questionings or reluctance, but those who were not true pure believers, started to ask questions, just like the Jews, and found it extremely difficult to comply with this order.[38]

Reactions and Consequences

The redirection of the qibla was followed by some reactions and consequences.

  • A number of Muslims were worried about the loss of divine rewards for their past prayers or the prayers of their deceased predecessors.[39] The Prophet (s) recited verse 143 of Sura al-Baqara (chapter 2) in response to them: "and Allah was not going to make your faith to be fruitless; most surely Allah is Affectionate, Merciful to the people".[Note 2][40]
  • Thus, biased polytheists and enemies of Islam could no longer reproach Muslims because of their turning toward Bayt al-Maqdis. Many other people of Hijaz who particularly loved the Ka'ba became more sympathetic to Islam. This is referred to in the Qur'an: "And whencesoever you may go out, turn your face towards the Holy Mosque, and wherever you may be, turn your faces towards it, so that the people may have no allegation against you, neither those of them who are wrongdoers."[41]

Jews of Hijaz were dissatisfied by the redirection of the qibla and began to spread propaganda against Muslims.[42] [43]

Notes

  1. Ibn Kathīr, Al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 3, p. 253; Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 2, p. 415-417; Ṭabāṭabāʾī, Al-Mīzān, vol. 1, p. 325. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 1, p. 419-420.
  2. ʿAllama al-Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 81, p. 33; Ṭabāṭabāʾī, Al-Mīzān, vol. 1, p. 325.
  3. Shaykh al-Ṭūsī, Al-Tibyān, vol. 2, p. 3-4; Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 1, p. 414.
  4. Fakhr al-Rāzī, Al-Tafsīr al-kabīr, vol. 4, p. 107.
  5. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, Al-Mīzān, vol. 1, p. 329.
  6. Ṭanṭāwī, al-wasīṭ, vol. 1, p. 294.
  7. Kulaynī, Al-Kāfi, vol. 4, p. 199; Sayyid al-Raḍī, Nahj al-balāgha, sermon. 192.
  8. Qummī, Tafsīr al-Qummī, vol. 1, p. 62.
  9. Ibn Khaldūn, Tārīkh Ibn Khaldūn, vol. 1, p. 483.
  10. Azraqī, Akhbār Makka, vol. 2, p. 31.
  11. See: Zamakhsharī, Al-Kashshāf, vol. 1, p. 200.
  12. See: Ibn Kathīr, Al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 3, p. 253.
  13. See: Ibn Kathīr, Al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 3, p. 253; Ibn Sayyid al-Nās, ʿUyūn al-athar, vol.1, p. 268.
  14. Shaykh al-Ṭūsī, Al-Tibyān, vol. 1, p. 424; Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 2, p. 6.
  15. Zamakhsharī, Al-Kashshāf, vol. 1, p. 200; Qurṭubī, Tafsīr al-Qurtubī, vol. 2, p. 150.
  16. Abu l-Futūḥ Rāzī, Rawḍ al-jinān, vol. 2, p. 202.
  17. Ibn Hishām, Al-Sīra al-nabawīyya, vol. 1, p. 439-440.
  18. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 1, p. 421.
  19. Ibn Saʿd, Al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 1, p. 186; Shaykh al-Ṣadūq, Man lā yaḥḍuruh al-faqīh, vol. 1, p. 275.
  20. Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī, Fatḥ al-bārī, vol. 1, p. 98; Ḥalabī, Al-Sīra al-Ḥalabīyya, vol. 2, p. 352-352.
  21. Ibn Saʿd, Al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 1, p. 186-187; Ibn Sayyid al-Nās, ʿUyūn al-athar, vol. 1, p. 269.
  22. Qāʾidān, Tārīkh wa āthār-i Islāmī-yi Makka wa Madīna munawwara, p. 268.
  23. Ibn al-Najjār, Al-Durra al-thamīna, p. 115; Ibn Sayyid al-Nās, ʿUyūn al-athar, vol. 1, p. 308.
  24. Ibn Saʿd, Al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 1, p. 186; Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 42; Zamakhsharī, Al-Kashshāf, vol. 1, p. 202.
  25. Qummī, Tafsīr al-Qummī vol. 1, p. 63.
  26. Ibn Saʿd, Al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 1, p. 185; Samhūdi, Wafāʾ al-wafā, vol. 1, p. 278.
  27. Ibn al-Najjār, Al-Durra al-thamīna, p. 126.
  28. Ṣāliḥī, Subul al-hudā, vol. 3, p. 370.
  29. Ibn al-Najjār, Al-Durra al-thamīna, p. 126; Ṣāliḥī, Subul al-hudā, vol. 3, p. 370.
  30. Ibn Saʿd, Al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 1, p. 186; Ibn Sayyid al-Nās, ʿUyūn al-athar, vol. 1, p. 269; Samhūdi, Wafāʾ al-wafā, vol. 1, p. 278.
  31. Qāʾidān, Tārīkh wa āthār-i Islāmī-yi Makka wa Madīna munawwara, p. 306.
  32. Samhūdi, Wafāʾ al-wafā, vol. 3, p. 372.
  33. Zamakhsharī, Al-Kashshāf, vol. 1, p. 200.
  34. Shaykh al-Ṭūsī, Al-Tibyān, vol. 2, p. 5; Abu l-Futūḥ Rāzī, Rawḍ al-jinān, vol. 2, p. 203; Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 1, p.412-414.
  35. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 1, p. 420; Zamakhsharī, Al-Kashshāf, vol. 1, p. 203.
  36. Ṭabarī, Jāmiʿ al-bayān, vol. 1, p. 400.
  37. Zamakhsharī, Al-Kashshāf, vol. 1, p. 200.
  38. Ṭabarī, Jāmiʿ al-bayān, vol. 2, p. 8.
  39. Maqātil b. Sulaymān,Tafsīr Maqātil ibn Sulaymān vol. 1, p. 146.
  40. Bayhaqī, Dalāʾil al-Nubuwwa, vol. 2, p. 575; Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 1, p. 417.
  41. Qurʾān 2: 150.
  42. Qurʾān 2: 142.
  43. See: Ibn Hishām, Al-Sīra al-nabawīyya, vol. 1, p. 550; Ṣāliḥī, Subul al-hudā, vol. 3, p. 541.
  1. قَدْ نَرَىٰ تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَاءِ ۖ فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةً تَرْضَاهَا ۚ فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ ۚ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ ۗ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ لَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ ۗ وَمَا اللَّـهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا يَعْمَلُونَ ﴿١٤٤﴾
  2. وَمَا جَعَلْنَا الْقِبْلَةَ الَّتِي كُنتَ عَلَيْهَا إِلَّا لِنَعْلَمَ مَن يَتَّبِعُ الرَّسُولَ مِمَّن يَنقَلِبُ عَلَىٰ عَقِبَيْهِ ۚ وَإِن كَانَتْ لَكَبِيرَةً إِلَّا عَلَى الَّذِينَ هَدَى اللَّـهُ ۗ وَمَا كَانَ اللَّـهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَانَكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ بِالنَّاسِ لَرَءُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ (Q 2:143)

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