Here in the US we face northeast while the kaabah is closer to us if we face southeast. All the ulamaa pray northeast too. Why do we pray northeast? Wouldnt it be better for us to face southeast? Jazakallah
Based on our research, the direction of Qibla in North America is in a North
Easterly direction. This is based on the fact that the earth is spherical in
shape and by facing in the North Easterly direction it would be the shortest
distance between him and Makkah.
Find hereunder a reply to a similar question.
And Allah Taãla Knows Best.
Mufti Ebrahim Desai
13 August, 1996
28 Rabi ul Awwal, 1417
Hadhrat Moulana A. S. Desai Saheb ‘By Fax’ (041)
Mujlisul Ulama of SA
Respected Moulana Saheb
Assalaamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullaahi Wa Barakatuhu
Qibla in America
After extensive research in the direction of the Qibla in America, it is the
view of this humble servant of Islam that the Qibla direction in America is
North East and not South East as pointed out in your fax of 95/05/07 and the
last issue of “The Majlis”.
Direction is determined by using the North Pole as the focal point. The
North Pole is the center of direction and it is used as a reference in order
to relate direction. However, in order to determine the direction of the
Ka’bah, there will be a drastic change between the earth being a surface and
the earth being spherical and oblate. Consider the following illustration of
an orange peel. When a visible mark is made on the orange peel and the
orange is carefully peeled and flattened, the mark will not remain at the
same point. The earth is a sphere and expressing directions of this sphere
as a surface creates great distortions. In short distances, this may be
insignificant but in long distances it will matter. Our concern here is the
direction of facing Makkah and not the direction one would take to reach
Makkah. Whilst the direction to reach Makkah may be many but the direction
of facing Makkah from any point will only be one. Not withstanding the
arguments of the modernists in their decision, the underlying principle of
the Fuqahaa (for those who cannot see the Ka’bah) is to face the direction
of the Ka’bah. The direction of travelling (i.e. shortest route along the
great circles) undoubtedly cannot be a blanket rule in determining the
direction of the Ka’bah due to the constant change of directions.
It is not necessary that the great circle route will always (NOT) be the
direction of facing your destination neither will the rhumb line route
always be the method of facing your destination. However, the rising and
setting of the sun will determine East and West, and the movement of the sun
is according to the spherical shape of the earth. Therefore, when
determining direction on earth, the spherical shape of the earth cannot be
If the earth is regarded to be a surface in determining the Qibla, then the
varying degrees of the movement of the sun in different seasons would not
have been decisive in ascertaining the direction of Qibla. This itself is
indicative in considering the oblate sphere of the earth in determining the
Qibla. Similarly, the North and South will be determined according to the
spherical shape of the earth – and not just any North or South. (Ref. 1
Jawaahirul Fiqh pg. 236 also see illustration on pg. 280 and 296, Ref. 2
Irshaadul Aabid, Ahsanul Fataawa, Vol. 2). In the light of the above
explanation, my suggestion would be that the direction of facing Makkah from
America would be North East and not South East. If a person faces in the
South East direction, according to the spherical shape of the earth, he will
not face Makkah. On the other hand, if he faces North East he will
definitely be facing Makkah.
It is not necessary that by regarding the earth as a globe there will be two
Qibla’s. Makkah is 21o North of Equator. In a case when a person travels 21o
West of Makkah and halts in the Pacific opposite Makkah, although there will
be two routes to reach Makkah (the Westerly and Easterly), but, the question
here is facing Makkah and not reaching Makkah. Furthermore, if it is assumed
that a person is on the North Pole then the direction of Qibla will not be
toward all directions that are equidistant of Makkah. The question is not of
distance but it is of direction of facing Makkah. In such a situation the
Qibla from the North pole would be South along the longitude of 39o50′. It
will not be in all directions.
The quotations of geographers mentioned in your article is in conflict with
the views of local geographers and land surveyors. Therefore, the matter is
of dispute between themselves. Find attached some information from Chief
Directorate: Surveys and Land Information.
Hadhrat Mufti Rashid Saheb is also of the opinion that the Qibla in America
is in the N. Easterly direction. Ahsanul Fatwa Volume 2 Pages 313, 314, 315,
316 and 317).
Mufti E. Desai