A Change of Direction

Jihad in the Koran41:37 Of His signs are the night and the day, the sun and the moon. Do not prostrate yourself to the sun or to the moon, but prostrate yourself to Allah Who created them, if it is He you truly worship.

41:38 Should they wax proud (the Meccan pagans), then those with your Lord (the angels, Moududi) do glorify him by night and day, without growing weary.

The first Muslims were required to prostrate themselves in the direction of Jerusalem. It was only after Muhammad’s falling out with the Jews of Medina that revelations were received from Allah informing His Messenger about a change of direction. The following are verses where God gives His reasons for this about-face (no pun intended).

2:142 The ignorant among the people (among the Jews and polytheist Arabs) will say: “What caused them (the Prophet Muhammad and the believers) to turn away from the former Qibla towards which they used to turn (Jerusalem)?” Say: “To Allah belongs the East and the West. He guides whom He wills towards the Right Path.”

2:143 And thus We have made you (the Muslim nation) a just nation, so that you may bear witness unto the rest of mankind, and that the Messenger may bear witness unto you. We did not ordain your former Qibla except that We may distinguish those who follow the Messenger from those who turn on their heels (return to disbelief). It was indeed a hard test except for those whom Allah guided. Allah would not allow your faith to be in vain. He is Clement and Merciful to mankind.

2:144 Surely, We see your face turned towards heaven (yearning for guidance through revelation). We shall turn you towards a Qibla that will please you. Turn your face then towards the Sacred Mosque (the Sacred Mosque of Mecca, the Ka’ba); and wherever you are turn your faces towards it. Those who were given the Book (the Jews and Christians) certainly know this to be the Truth from their Lord. Allah is not unaware of what they do.

2:145 Were you even to come to the People of the Book with every proof, they will not follow your Qibla, nor will you follow their Qibla. Nor will some of them follow the Qibla of the others. And were you to follow their desires after all the knowledge that came to you, surely you would be one of the evil-doers.

2:146 Those to whom We gave the Book know him (Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah) as they know their own sons; but a group of them will knowingly conceal the truth.

2:147 The truth is from your Lord. So do not be one of the doubters.

2:148 To everyone there is a direction towards which he turns. So hasten to do the good works. Wherever you are, Allah will bring you all together (in the Hereafter). Surely Allah has power over all things.

God’s instructions were not limited to the direction Muslims must face when performing the prayers.

2:149 From whatever place you come out, turn towards the Sacred Mosque. This is indeed the truth from your Lord. Allah is not unaware of what you do.

2:150 From whatever place you come out, turn your faces towards the Sacred Mosque. And wherever you all are, turn your faces towards it, lest people should have cause to argue with you, except for the evil-doers among them. Do not fear them, but fear Me so that I may complete My Grace upon you, and that you be rightly guided.