Changing the Qiblah from Bayt Al-Maqdis to the Honorable Ka‘bah
Fatwa No: 5613

Question

What is the Sharee‘ah objective behind changing the Qiblah from Bayt Al-Maqdis to the honorable Ka‘bah? Can you please explain the opinions of scholars along with scientific verification.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Slave and Messenger.

Know, may Allaah Render you successful, that Allaah The Almighty never Enjoins people to do something unless it is beneficial to them in much the same way that He never Prohibits them from doing anything unless it is harmful for them. All His legislations are based on specific wisdom that only He The Exalted Knows. Believers have nothing to do with this except respond positively and submit to the Command of Allaah The Almighty and to that of His Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. This is exactly what the Companions of His Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, had done. To prove this, it was reported in Al-Bukhari and Muslim that the man whom the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, sent to Qubaa’ to tell them about the changing of the Qiblah came to them while they were performing the Fajr (i.e. Dawn) prayer and said, "(Something of the) Quran was revealed tonight to the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, commanding him to turn his face to the Ka‘bah. They immediately turned their faces to the direction of the Ka‘bah while they were in the bowing position. None of them refused to respond nor did anyone ask about the wisdom behind this. This is actually due to the strength of their faith and the purity of their hearts from any doubt or hesitation  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them. This is unlike those whose faith was weak and were affected by the propaganda of the Jews. Reactions of both parties towards the changing of the Qiblah were reported in the Saying of Allaah The Almighty (which means): {And We did not make the Qiblah which you used to face except that We might make evident who would follow the Messenger from who would turn back on his heels.  And indeed, it is difficult except for those whom Allaah has guided.} [Quran 2: 143]

Al-Qurtubi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: “This refers to what He Has Commanded concerning facing the Ka‘bah. As for His Saying (which means): “from who would turn back on his heels”, it means the one who renounces Islam. This is because when the Qiblah was changed, some Muslims apostatized and others became hypocrites. Therefore, He The Exalted Says (what means): “And indeed, it is difficult”, meaning the matter of changing it. This was also said by Ibn ‘Abbaas, Mujaahid and Qataadah.” End quote

However, some scholars have mentioned the wisdom behind changing the Qiblah from Bayt Al-Maqdis to the Ka‘bah such as deducing the reason behind revealing this verse, namely the Saying of Allaah The Almighty (which means): {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. } [Quran 2: 144].

The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, used to wish that he could pray facing the Ka‘bah (at Makkah) and thus Allaah The Almighty Revealed this verse and Directed him to pray towards the Ka‘bah. This was reported by Ibn Katheer  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him from Imaam Abi Haatim in his Tafseer. They also mentioned another matter which is that the command to face the Ka‘bah came to refute the argument of the Jews that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, agreed with them in their Qiblah and thus was about to agree with them in their religion. The same opinion was also expressed by Mujaahid, Adh-Dhahhaak, As-Suddy and Qataadah. Changing the Qiblah also refers to transferring the leadership and Imamate in religion from the Children of Israel, whose home was in Ash-Shaam and Bayt Al-Maqdis, to the Arabs whose home is the Hijaaz region. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was from the offspring of Ismaa‘eel (Ishmael) who shared with his father Ibraaheem (Abrahaam), may Allaah exalt their mention, the task of building the Sacred House. This is in contrast to the Children of Israel who were from the offspring of Is-haaq (Isaac)  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention. Moreover, the rituals of Hajj are related to the Sacred House and the honorable Ka‘bah and thus it is more appropriate to direct prayer to the House in and around which the rituals are fulfilled. This is also part of the perfection of this religion. These are just some of its wisdom which we have explained in brief. Actually, the matter of changing the Qiblah may have been done for wisdom other than this.

Allaah Knows best.

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