The Meaning of the Saying of Allah in Suratul-Baqarah, Ayah 115

July 16th, 2005

معنى قوله تعالى : فأينما تولوا فثمّ وجه الله
Which means: “Wherever your turn there is a direction, (that is, of al-Qiblah).”

Some people erroneously think that it is not an important matter to be keen in detecting the direction of al-Qiblah for prayers. Rather, they say it is sufficient for the person to have the intention of facing al-Qiblah in prayers. After which, they say, it is not conditional for him to endeavor to determine its direction by the signs, nor to attempt to face it. Based on that, they claim that for he who is praying in the USA, whether he faces north, east, south, or west, or may other direction, his prayer is valid. These people are also prepared to pray one time to one direction and another time to another direction without seeing any discrepancy in their actions. In that, they claim to rely on the saying of Allah in Suratul-Baqarah, ‘Ayah 115

(وَللهِ الْمَشْرِقُ وَالْمَغْرِبُ فَأَيْنَمَا تُوَلُّواْ فَثَمَّ وَجْهُ اللهِ إِنَّ اللهَ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ)

Which means: “to Allah belong the east and the west so wherever you turn there is a direction, and Allah is All-Knowing.”

They erroneously interpret the saying of Allah to mean that it is permissible for you to face any direction while praying. This is, no doubt, a perversion of the Religion. Allah said in Suratul-Baqarah, ‘Ayah 150:

(وَمِنْ حَيْثُ خَرَجْتَ فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ(

Which means: “From wherever you start turn your face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque and wherever you are, turn your faces in its direction.

The term shatr in the ‘Ayah means ‘the direction’, as the author of al-Qamus, among others, said. None of the scholars among the four schools have beaten the deviants to this saying. Moreover, not any reputable scholar has interpreted the ‘Ayah as they did. Muhammad Ibn Ahmad al-Qurtubiyy al-Malikiyy, in his interpretation of the Qu’an known as Al-Jami^ li ‘Ahkam al-Qur’an, listed six different interpretations of this ‘Ayah, none of which include what they have claimed. Rather, after listing these interpretations, he said: “It is not permissible for anyone to intentionally leave al-Qiblah under any case except in the case of extreme fear.” The adopted interpretations of this ‘Ayah is the wajdullah means the Qiblah of Allah, that is, it is permissible for he who is traveling, while riding an animal, to pray the optional prayer to the direction that the animal is heading, whether or not it was toward Al-Qiblah. Mujahid, the student of Ibn ^Abbas interpreted it as such, and ash-Shafi^iyy took by it. Moreover, Imam Muslim related the saying of ^Abdullah Ibn ^Umar, may Allah accept his deeds, that the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ^alayhi wa salam, used to pray on his animal when coming to Makkah from Madinah to whatever direction the animal was facing. He added that for this incident the following ‘Ayah was revealed:

(فَأَيْنَمَا تُوَلُّواْ فَثَمَّ وَجْهُ اللهِ)

Which means :{wherever you turn there is a direction.}

Because of this hadith, none of the Imams had different opinions about the permissibility of praying while traveling, mounted on an animal.

Moreover, the overlooked turning right and left from al-Qiblah that was mentioned by the Hanafiyy scholars, is not what those followers of al-^Abdaliyy try to portray. The author of Raddul- Muhtar, which is among the most famous of their books, explained by saying: “It is not intended by that to have the Ka^bah to his right or left, or else undoubtedly he would have entirely left out the direction (that is of Al-Qiblah)” Rather, this is something that the Hanafiyy scholars mention when they talk about he who is praying in a place far away from al-KA^bah. This means that after one endeavors to determine the direction and faces it, if it turned out that he was deviating slightly to the left or to the right, then this is overlooked. The difference is great between this saying and what those negligent people try to portray.

O you Muslim who is careful about his Religion, do not pay attention to such negligence, and do observe performing your prayer in the manner that is acceptable to Allah. Use the signs to check the direction of al-Ka^bah following the methodology that was shown by the reputable scholars of the four schools. Adhere to their sayings, for they are qualified carriers of the banners of the Religion and they are the worthy examples to follow.

Entry Filed under: The Meaning of an Ayah

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