Ads by Muslim Ad Network
Ads by Muslim Ad Network

OnIslam.net

Changing the Direction of Prayers

(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)
The Jewish Response
By Adil Salahi
Researcher and writer - UK
11276
Changing the direction of prayers from Al Aqsa mosque to Kabbah was a true test of Muslims' faith. Picture © Microsoft.Com
Changing the direction of prayers from Al Aqsa mosque to Kabbah was a true test of Muslims' faith.
An important event which took place some 16 or 17 months after the Prophet had settled in Madinah was the change of direction Muslims face when they offer their prayers. While the Prophet was still in Makkah, he was ordered to turn towardsJerusalem when he prayed.

 

Muslims complied with this divine instruction and continued to do so after they had emigrated to Madinah, where they came in close contact with the Jews.

The Jews used the fact that Muslims adopted their own holy city as their
qiblah to claim that Judaism was the religion of truth and that Muhammad and his companions should

adopt Judaism, instead of calling on the Jews to accept Islam.

 

“Your prayers from now on would then be of no value." Said the Jews.  
Now, nearly 18 months after the establishment of the Islamic state in Madinah, new Qur’a nicrevelations instructed the Prophet and the Muslims to turn towards the Kabah in Makkah when they prayed.

The Prophet himself was very pleased with this change, which he keenly desired but dared not request.

 

The Jews in Madinah countered with a sustained campaign of criticism, as they felt that the change deprived them of their argument for refusing to accept Islam. Their new campaign sought to create doubts in the minds of Muslims as to the basis of their own religion.

 

Peace and Confrontation

 

If it was right, the Jews argued, that the Muslims should formerly face Jerusalem in their prayers, then the new direction is wrong. They also told the Muslims: “Your prayers from now on would then be of no value. If, on the other hand, the new direction is right and the Kabah is the true qiblah, then your prayers in the past were in vain.”

 

The Jews also argued that God, the Lord Who knows all, does not change His instructions in that manner. The change clearly showed, the Jews went on, that Muhammad did not really receive any revelation from God. Reading the verses which speak of this subject and the argument that ensued in Madinah shows that the Jewish campaign was not without results.

 

Arabs revered the Kabah before the advent of Islam. To them it was the symbol of their national glory.
Reassurance was needed and was, indeed, provided in a long passage in the Qur’an, which runs from verse 106 to verse 150 in the surah  entitled The Cow. A word of explanation here may be useful.

 

Arabs revered the Kabah before the advent of Islam. To them it was the symbol of their national glory. It was also one of the factors which held the Arab tribes together. Islam, however, requires of its followers total, undivided loyalty. Muslims must dedicate themselves wholly to God and the cause of Islam.

 

The Prophet’s companions must, therefore, abandon all their former loyalties, tribal, racial or national. Hence the need to separate their worship from their traditional reverence of the Kabah. To accomplish this they were ordered to turn towards Jerusalem when they prayed.

 

After a period of time, when the Muslims had accepted the new situation – moving away, in the process, from the rest of the Arabs – they were taught to regard the Kabah in a different light. They were told to face it in their prayers because it was built by the two Prophets, Abraham and Ishmael, as a place wholly devoted to the worship of God alone.

 

Changing the direction of prayers made the Muslims keenly aware that they were the true heirs of Abraham and his religion, based on total submission to God.
 
Thus it becomes part of the heritage of the Islamic nation, which has come into existence by way of answering Abraham’s prayers to raise among his seed a Prophet who would teach them the true religion.

 

Thus, having achieved the objective of making the Muslims turn to Jerusalem in their prayers for a while, it was now time to give them their own distinctive qiblah – the Kabah, the first house of worship ever built. This process made the Muslims keenly aware that they were the true heirs of Abraham and his religion, based on

total submission to God.

 

To be distinct from others is very important when one speaks of faith and worship, for worship is the visible expression of the beliefs which take root in the soul. If worship is visibly distinct from that of other religions, then it strengthens the perception that the religion itself is unique. The purpose of giving the Muslims their own qiblah must be seen in this light.

 

Adil Salahi is the Executive Director of Al-Furqan Heritage Foundation. He teaches Islamic Studies at the Markfield Institute of Higher Education, Leicester, England. After working for the BBC Arabic Service for several years, he worked for the Arabic daily, al-Sharq al-Awsat. He continues to publish a column, "Islam in Perspective", in its sister publication, Arab News, an English daily published in Saudi Arabia. He has produced an English translation of several volumes of Sayyid Qutb's commentary, In the Shade of the Quran (Leicester, Islamic Foundation), as well as several other books on Islamic subjects.

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

Banner