Monday, June 29, 2015

Why and How Qiblah Direction changed from Masjid Aqsa to Masjid al Haram?

Islam emphasizes strongly over offering Salah as obligatory ritual for obedience towards unification of Allah. Being second pillar of Islam, Salah ordered for spiritual, moral and physical benefits of Muslims. During earlier days of Islam, prayer was not obligatory for Muslims until Holy Prophet PBUH went on journey of Israa and Miraj. Earlier Holy Prophet used to pray along with his companions as a voluntary activity. Later on the visit of Israa and Miraj Allah made it obligatory for Muslims to offer five times prayers a day. Muslims kept on offering voluntary prayers in Mecca for two rakaat twice a day at dawn and dusk. The obligatory ritual of prayer ordered just before one and half year before migration to Madinah.

Despite of disciplined offering of Salah five times a day after visit of Holy Prophet PBUH to Israa and Miraj, Muslims kept on offering prayer while facing Al Masjid Al Aqsa. This site is considered as holiest for Muslims after Mecca and Madinah Masjids. It is located in Jerusalem and Jews used to face same masjid while performing their religious rituals. Holy Prophet PBUH performed prayers for 13 years of his prophet hood. Despite of his heartiest desire for Kaaba as Islamic Qiblah he PBUH never asked Allah SWT for changing of Qiblah in order to avoid any act of disobedience.

After migration to Madinah, Holy Prophet PBUH and his followers kept on facing Al Masjid Al Aqsa while offering Salah. This practice brought Muslims in a controversial position as Jews were also offering their religious rituals while facing the same focal point. When Jews used heart rending comments for Muslims due to adoption of Al Masjid Al Aqsa as their Qiblah, Muhammad (PBUH) desired keenly that they could switch to Kaaba as their spiritual center of prayers. After one and half year of migration to Madinah, Allah sent Jibreel (A.S) to ask Holy Prophet PBUH for changing direction of their face while offering Asar Prayer. Muslims immediately turned their faces to Mecca and afterwards it became the forever center of Muslims’ prayers. Meanwhile Allah sent this message for his beloved prophet (PBUH)

I have certainly seen the turning of your face, [O Muhammad], toward the heaven, and I will surely turn you to a Qiblah with which you will be pleased. So turn your face toward Al-Masjid Al-Haram. And wherever you [believers] are, turn your faces toward it [in prayer]. Indeed, those who have been given the Scripture well know that it is the truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do. (Chapter 2, verse 144)

The basic need for changing of Qiblah arose when Jews started commenting that Muslims use to face the same Qiblah as they do, it means there is no innovation in Islam and it is same like Judaism. Jews refused to become Muslims by arguing the fact that if Muslims are facing their Qiblah, it shows actually they need to change their religion and become Jews. Holy Prophet PBUH was keenly intended for changing the Qiblah. Kaaba was so dear to Muslims due to its association with Prophet Ibrahim and Ismail (peace be upon him). It was expected that Allah will assign Kaaba as Islamic Qiblah but on the visit Miraj, Holy Prophet PBUH led the congregational Salah of all Prophets in Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa. Allah ordered Apostle of Allah to follow this mosque as Qiblah. The order for change of Qiblah bestowed on Muslims in the middle of Sha’ban during second year of Hijra which completely shut down the criticizing comments of Jews regarding Qiblah of Muslims.

Source: Saudi Gazette

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