Among the mandatory conditions for a Muslim’s prayer to be valid, is his direction towards what is referred to as the ‘Qibla’.The world Qibla means ‘direction’ or ‘facing’, and the Qibla for the Muslims is the Holy Kaabah in Masjid Al Haraam in the Sacred city of Makkah. The Qibla is not just important for Salah, but it is also ordained in the Islamic Law for the face of the dead to be turned towards it, the head of the animal turned towards it when being slaughtered etc. It is the recommended direction one should face while making dua or supplication and should be avoided when defecating, urinating, and spitting.


The matter of the Qibla is a significant one, not just because of its marked status in Islamic history but also because of its detailed mention in the Quran.

For many years, the Qiblah for the believers was Bait-ul-Maqdas(which includes Masjid al Aqsa) in Jerusalem, first built by Prophet Adam AS after his building of the Kaabah. In the initialdays of Islam, following the migration to Madina, the Prophet and the Muslims offered their prayers in the direction of the previously divinely decreed Qibla, the Bait-ul-Maqdas. After Prophet Muhammad migrated to Madinah, the Jews, who shared the same Qibla, were displeased by the rapid rise of Islam and felt threatened by the Muslims as their power decreased in the Peninsula. They made considerable efforts to discredit Islam while criticizing its rulings. This antagonistic approach continued with the mocking of the Prophet and the Muslims for not having an independent Qibla. While The Prophet himself prayed facing Bait ul Maqdas, he also longed for Kaabah to be the Qiblah as it was for Adam AS and Ibrahim AS. He would often go out for a sign or revelation from Allah regarding the Qiblah.

It was during the 2nd year of the Hijrah, that the Prophet was leading the congregational prayers when Allah SWT sent Jibrael AS to reveal the ayahs that commanded the change in Qiblah from Baitul-Maqdis to the Sacred Mosque of Holy Kaabah in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.

‘We have been seeing you turn your face to heaven. So, We will certainly assign to you a Qiblah that you would like. Now, turn your face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque (Al-Masjid al-Haram). And, wherever you be, turn your faces in its direction. Even those who have been given the Book know well that here is the truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do.’ (2:144)

Jibraeel (AS) took the hand of the Prophet and slowly guided him to turn towards the direction of the Kaabah in Masjid al-Haram. Prophet Mohammed shifted and changed his direction immediately while being in the middle of the prayer. Interestingly, the Masjid in which this incident took place is today known as ‘Masjid Al-Qiblatain' meaning ‘A mosque with two Qibla’. Being one of the oldest and most famous Masajid in Islam, it still stands today a few kilometers from Masjid Al Nabawi. It has 2 Mihrabs; one facing "Baitul-Maqdis" and the other facing "Masjid al-Haram".

How to Locate Qibla?

History shows that there have been several methods used by Muslims to determine the Qiblah all over the world. From the very basic Sun and sundials to the contemporary apps and digital compasses, the multiple ways of finding the Qiblah have been highlighted.

Step 1

The first step is to know where you are in the world, in relation to Makkah. It is a common enough belief that Muslims are to pray facing east; this is wrong. This is only possible if your location is somewhere west of Makkah at that point in time.

Step 2: Locate the Qibla using any of the following methods

The Sun

The sun is a good indicator of cardinal directions; it rises from the East and sets in the West. Having an idea of your bearings in relation to Makkah can help you find the direction of the Qiblah by noting where the sun rises from and where it sets in that locality.

The Qiblah can be determined through the sun’s positioning on two occasions during the year. The sun ascends to a position directly above the Kaabah twice a year:

• May 28 at 9:18 UT
• July 16 at 9:27 UT

Facing the sun on these exact days and exact times (converted to your local time), is essentially facing the Kaabah itself. However, this method can only be used twice a year.

A Sundial

Place a vertical object, approximately 3 feet long on flat and level ground, just before noon. Then:

• Mark the place where the tip of the object’s shadow falls on the ground

• Draw a circle around the object, using its length as the radius

• As time passes, the shadow will decrease and move away from the circle. It will then get longer in another direction and touch the circle again

• Mark the point where the circle and shadow intersect

• Join both marks using a straight line

• This direction is west to east; the first mark being west and the second being east

• Draw another perpendicular line to this line. The second line will be a north-south line

• After you have located the cardinal directions, it will be easier to get a rough idea of the Qibla direction as well.

A Watch

You can also find directions using an analog watch with hour and minute hands.

For Northern Hemisphere
• Hold the watch horizontally so the hour hand points towards the sun.
• The direction in the middle between the hour hand and 12:00 o’clock on your watch is south. If you’ve located south, you can now determine the other directions as well.

For Southern hemisphere:
• Hold the watch horizontally so the 12:00 o’clock mark points to the sun.
• The direction between the 12:00 o’clock mark and the hour hand will be north. If you know where the north is, you can now figure out the other directions as well.
And so, through figuring out the cardinal directions, you can easily locate the Qibla as well.

A Compass

Using a compass is among the easiest ways to determine the Qiblah direction. If one is aware of his location in relation to Makkah, the compass gives a more precise direction as compared to a stick in the ground. Technological advances have also led to what is referred to as the Qibla Compass. It is a magnetic compass that includes a list of Qibla angles from major locations. Today, the most convenient and accurate version of the compass can be found in prayer mats. The ABDEEZ Portable Prayer Mat with Built in Qiblah Compass is a highly practical travel item to carry for ease in praying anywhere with the Qibla pointed out.

Software Apps and Technology

Today we see how the modern and rapidly advancing world has eased the difficulties of the now almost obsolete methods of determining Qiblah, of the past. There are numerous apps on the social market that discern the accurate Qiblah from your location. It is also noteworthy that many hotel rooms in Muslim countries have stickers on ceilings or drawers to direct Muslims towards the Qiblah.


DEENIN. (n.d.). Abdeez portable prayer mat with built-in Qibla compass and pouch - pra.

Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (2023, November 1). Islam. Encyclopædia Britannica.

HalalTrip. (n.d.). Qibla direction finder using online compass and map: Halal trip.

History of qibla: The shift from bait-ul maqdas to Masjid-Al Haram. IslamicFinder. (2016, November 16).

How to find the qibla direction. IslamicFinder. (n.d.).

wikiHow. (2023, September 14). 5 ways to find the qibla for prayer.

Wikimedia Foundation. (2023, November 4). Qibla. Wikipedia.,%2DMasjid%20il%2DHaram


The Qibla, the direction of Muslim prayer, shifted from Bait-ul-Maqdas to Masjid Al-Haram in Makkah. Methods to find it range from ancient practices like using the sun to modern tools such as apps and compasses. Understanding the Qibla's historical and practical significance is crucial for Muslims in various aspects of their faith.

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