The Qiblah change was a special moment in the Muslim history. Below you can find answers for frequently asked questions about the qiblah, the incident of the qiblah change and the Ka`bah.
What is the meaning of qiblah?
Qiblah means the direction that Muslims face when they perform their prayers (salah).
What is the significance of qiblah?
Facing the qiblah is one of the basic requirements of performing salah which is one of the five pillars of Islam. Besides, the very act of facing the qiblah and the qiblah itself (the Ka`bah) has spiritual indications and bearings on Muslims. Read more on this aspect in our folder: Qiblah Change: Unity and identity.
What was the first qiblah?
The first qiblah that Muslims faced in their prayers was Al-Aqsa Mosque.
When did the qiblah change take place?
The command to shift the direction of salah to the Ka`bah was revealed to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) about 16-17 months after his immigration to Madinah.
What is the Ka`bah?
The Ka`bah is a cubic building in the middle of Al-Masjid Al-Haram in Makkah. Allah tells us in the Qur’an that the Ka`bah was the first house built on earth for worshipping Allah. (Aal `Imran 3:96)
Who built the Ka`bah?
Scholars and historians say that the Ka`bah has been reconstructed between 5 to 12 times. According to some of them, the very first construction of the Ka`bah was done by Prophet Adam (peace and blessings be upon him). After this, Prophet Ibrahim and Isma`il (peace and blessings be upon them) rebuilt the Ka’bah.
Do Muslims worship the Ka`bah?
No, Muslims do not worship anything or anyone but Allah the Almighty. When Muslims face the Ka`bah in the prayers, they do not do so because they worship the Ka`abah but rather because they are commanded by Allah to pray this way towards this direction.
The prayer itself does not include any mention of the Ka`abh and none of its words is addressed to the Ka`bah. In salah, Muslims praise Allah and supplicate Him alone.
The same applies to the tawaf (circumambulating the K`bah during pilgrimage). No Muslim think of worshipping the Ka`bah through performing tawaf. Like the prayer, the tawaf is dedicated to praising the glory of Allah, remembering Him and asking for His blessings and favors.
What is the story of changing the qiblah?
In Makkah before the immigration to Madinah, Muslims were commanded to face Jerusalem in their prayer. This was the first qiblah that Muslims faced during the salah. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and the Companions submitted to the command of Allah.
Since Jerusalem is north of Makkah, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to stand south of the Ka`bah in his prayers so that he could face both the Ka`bah and Al-Aqsa Mosque. That was impossible, however, in Madinah because Madinah is located in the north of Makkah and south of Jerusalem.
After immigrating to Madinah, the Muslims continued to face Jerusalem for more 16 or 17 months. The Jews of Madinah rejoiced the fact that the Prophet had to take their sacred city as a qiblah. They used this to spread doubts about the validity of Islam.
In the meantime, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to look up to heaven waiting eagerly for a command to face the Ka`bah. Finally, after about 16 months in Madinah, Allah commanded Muslims to face the K`bah in their prayer.