July 16th, 2005
The scholars among the four schools have mentioned that the signs of al-Qiblah are plenty and have authored numerous books on the subject as mentioned by an-Nawawiyy. Not any have ever considered the shortness or the length of the route, nor the proximity or farness from Makkah in determining al-Qiblah. Moreover, they have explicitly stated NOT to consider it but rather be content with seeking the direction and knowing it. Abu Hayyan ash-Shafi^iyy, who is among the most known interpreters of the Qur’an, said in Al-Bahr al-Muhit: “Al-Qiblah is the direction that the human would face.”
Ibn Qudamah, the Hanbaliyy scholar, in his book, Ash-Sharh al-Kabir, said: “…the obligation on these two and everyone else who is far from Makkah is to seek the direction of al-Ka^bah.” Also in his book, Al-’Insaf, he said: “For he who is away from Makkah, he has to face toward the direction.”
Ibn Nujaym related al-’ijma^ (consensus) that what is obligatory on he who is absent from Makkah is to face toward that direction.
Hold on tightly to the aforementioned saying of al-’Imam Abu Hanifah whereby he established that the basis lies in knowing the direction. He is an Imam who attained the high status of al-’ijtihad al-mutlaq , along with known piety and fear of Allah. Thos claimers of knowledge who oppose him do not even come close to one-hundredth of his knowledge and piety.
Now that we have established the saying of the Muslim scholars, let us see how to seek the direction of al-Qiblah and how to know it while complying with their sayings. In terminology, it is well known that north is opposite to south and that east is opposite to west and that their lines meet at right angles with each other. This terminology, al-Ghazaliyy states, goes back as old as when man was created. On earth, north is determined by the position of Polaris. This was mentioned by ar-Raziyy ash-Shafi^iyy, in his Tafsir and by al-Wansharisiyy al-Malikiyy, in Al-Mi^yar, and by Ibn Qudamah
al-Hanbaliyy in his book, Ash-Sharhil-Kabir, and by Ibn ^Abidin al-Hanafiyy, and by countless others among the scholars of the four schools.
Hence, the direction of Polaris in north. The scholars mentioned that Suhayl is another star that always points south. The higher Polaris is seen above the horizon means the closer the country of vision is to north. The lower Polaris is seen above horizon means the farther the country of vision is from north. The geographers of the west agree with the Muslims on this terminology and all navigators use it. Review if you wish, “How We got Our Arabic Star Names” by Paul Konizsch, and “Physical Geography” by Arthur Strahler, John Wiley & Sons. We mention these references while reaffirming that the reliance is on what Muslim scholars have said and not on others. East is known, and it is the direction from where sun rises, and west is where the sun sets.
Ibn ^Adbil-Barr and others reported that al-’Imam Ahmad stood facing south, he pointed with his left hand and said, “This is east,” then pointed with his right hand and said, “This is west.”
As an unbiased reader, know that the Muslim scholars have al-’ijma^ (consensus) that the Ka^bah is at the center of earth. Not in any of their books authored on this subject would you find mentioned otherwise.
If one stands in Makkah, looking at the height of Polaris above the horizon and compares it to the height of Polaris above the horizon while standing in the USA or Canada, he would find the Polaris is higher above the horizon in the USA and Canada. This means that these countries fall north of Makkah. Therefore, to face al-Ka^bah it is a must to direct oneself southwards. Moreover, if you add that the USA and Canada are also westward of Makkah, which is at the center of earth, then it is necessary for he who wants to pray while in these countries to face eastward so that he would be facing
Hence, the clear result is that he who wants to pray while in the USA and Canada has to direct himself towards southeast if he wants his prayer to be valid and complying with the methodology and judgment of the Muslim scholars. In his book, Al-khitat under the chapter of al-Maharib, in the Egyptian edition, Volume 4, al-Muqriziyy ash-Shafi^iyy said: “If you are skillful in knowing the countries and the boundaries of the regions them you have learned that when people face al-Ka^bah the do so like a circle around its center. Hence for he who is west of al-Ka^bah, the direction of his Qiblah for his prayer is to the east…” Until he said: “…for he who is between north and west from al-Ka^bah, the direction of his Qiblah is between south and east.” Praise be to Allah for this is exactly what we have said.
He who oppose in his case is as a matter of fact saying that al-Qiblah for those in Canada (which is north of Makkah) is the same as al-Qiblah for those is Yemen (which is south of Makkah) . Also, they are saying that al-Qiblah for those in the USA is the same as al-Qiblah for those in Somalia, and the countries that fall in its way. Likewise the same as al-Qiblah of Chile and what is next to it. And all of that is clearly invalid.
Verily, Allah is the one who gives strength to His slaves to be obedient
Entry Filed under: The Direction of al-Qiblah 4