Why Do Muslims Pray in the Direction of Kaabah?

For more than 1.8 billion Muslims in the world, knowing the Qibla or direction of prayer is a very important thing. This direction is toward the Kaabah in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. 

Although the Qibla faces the Kaabah in Mecca, doesn’t mean Muslims worship Kaabah. The Kaabah is merely a capital and focal point for the entire Muslim world, not a true object of worship. The Muslims direct their worship only to Allah the Almighty God. It is believed that having a Qibla gives Muslim worshipers a way to achieve unity and more focus in prayer. 

The History Behind Qibla

In the early years of Islam, the Qibla direction was toward the al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Two years after Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and his followers migrated from Mecca to the city of Medina (Hijrah) in about 624 C.E, the Qibla was changed to the Kaabah. The change happened suddenly because the Rasulullah is said to have received a revelation from Allah. The revelation from God was instructing him to, “Turn your face towards the Masjid al Haram“, the Sacred Mosque, home of the Kaabah in Mecca.

We have certainly seen the turning of your face, [O Muhammad], toward the heaven, and We 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. – Quran 2:144

The Kaaba itself was a sanctuary in pre-Islamic times. Muslims believe that Ibrahim and his son, Ismail, constructed the Kaabah. Tradition holds that it was originally a simple unroofed rectangular structure. Since Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ time, the Kaabah has gone through some major changes over the centuries. Now, Kaabah still has a cubical structure, standing in fifteen meters tall and ten and a half meters on each side. The door of the Kaaba today is made of solid gold that was added in 1982. 

Finding the Qibla When Travelling

Sometimes when travelling, we have difficulty to determine Qibla direction in the new location. Flashback to years before digital technology, we need accurate geographical coordinates in order to find the correct Qibla, or the very least, we will need a compass. But now, with the help of mobile applications, we can now determine the Qibla direction accurately. 

Wherever you are, Muslim Pro has an animated Qibla compass and map to show you the direction to Mecca to perform your Salah. You can read more on how to use Muslim Pro’s Qibla feature here.