Translation of the Response of his Eminence, the great Imam,
The Shaykh of al-’Azhar, may Allah protect him
The office of the Great Imam
The Shaykh of al-’Azhar
Praise be to Allah, the lord of the worlds, and may Allah raise the rank of Prophet Muhammad and protect his nation from that which he fears for it. Thereafter,
The letter of the engineer Mr. Muhammad Hammadi from Montreal was received at the office of his Eminence, the Great Imam, and it contained the following:
“Since Islam entered their country, the Muslims in Canada took southeast as the direction of their Qiblah, and they based their Maharib accordingly.
Ten of fifteen years ago, some brothers introduced that the direction of al-Qiblah should be northeast, because it is the shorter distance of the two to al-Ka^bah. As a result, the Muslims were divided, praying toward two Qiblahs. They were divided despite that it was proven to some of those ruled with the northeast direction, who retracted their statement, that they were mistaken, and despite that all the studies agreed that the first direction (i.e., toward southeast) is correct.
Your Eminence, we hope that you would decisively put an end to this tribulation among the Muslims.”
Among the pre-requisites for the validity of the prayer (whether optional or obligatory) is to direct oneself toward al-Ka^bah for those who are outside of Makkah, as long as they are safe and are able to do so. This has been confirmed by the Book of Allah, the Sunnah and al-‘ijma^ (consensus)
As to the book of Allah, in Suratul-Baqarah, ‘Ayah 150:
وَمِنْ حَيْثُ خَرَجْتَ فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ
Means: “From wherever you start turn your face in the direction of the Scared Mosque, and wherever you are turn you faces in its direction.”
What is meant by the Sacred Mosque is al-Ka^abah itself.
As to the Sunnah, it was narrated by Imam Muslim that the Prophet, sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam, said: “If you stand up for prayer, perform your complete wudu’ then face the Qiblah and say Allahu ‘akbar.” The ‘ijma^ of the Muslims (i.e., the Muslim scholars) has been established in that regard.
The basis is that it is obligatory to face the Qiblah in prayer is what was narrated by al-Bukhariyy and Muslim from the route of al-Bara’ Ibn ^Azib, may Allah reward them, that when the Prophet, sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam, arrived in Madinah, he prayed toward Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem) sixteen or seventeen months and that he had liked that his Qiblah was toward al-Bayt. Also, the first prayer he performed was al-^Asr and a group of people prayed with him. One of them passed by a group of people in a mosque who were in ruku^ in prayer and he said: “By Allah I bear witness that I have prayed with the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam, toward Makkah. All of them turned toward the House (Ka^bah).”
CASES EXCLUDED FROM FACING AL_QIblah
The scholars excluded the obligatory of facing the Qiblah in two cases of prayers. The first is the case of extreme fear. The second is the case of the optional prayer while traveling while riding an animal.
Upon reviewing what was written on the subject of the direction of the Qiblah in Canada, the rules dictate that the correct direction of the Qiblah is the direction of “Southeast”. It is the correct continual line of the Qiblah from the location of the Mosque.
As to the shortness of the northeast line, this is usable for traveling to it, but not in taking it as the Qiblah. Allah is the One Who guides and Allah knows best.
This is the fatwa of His Eminence, the Great Imam, the Shaykh of al-‘Azhar that we convey to you.
The Chairman of the Central Directorate
of the Office of the Great Imam
the Shaykh of al-‘Azhar
Muhammad Yusuf ^Afifiyy.
Add comment July 16th, 2005