Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
In the Hanafi madhab if I know the exact direction of the Qibla, but purposely pray 10-15 degrees away, is the prayer legally valid? I was under the impression that as long as I was within 90 degrees of the Qibla my prayer could be legally valid, even if I knew the precise direction. Is this correct?
The mosque I go to prays about 15 degrees away from the Qibla, even though they know the precise direction. This seems to be because they want to facilitate things for the followers. Is the imams prayer legally valid? Is the prayer of the follower legally valid?
If one cannot physically see the Kaaba, it is merely necessary to face the general direction of the Qibla. One must be reasonably certain of being within 45 degrees of the Qibla (therefore having a total leeway of 90 degrees). It is therefore valid to veer slightly away from the exact direction. This is slightly disliked, though, as scholars point out. (I heard it from Mufti Mahmoud Usmani, and read it from others.) However, if you pray in such a masjid, your prayer is both valid and not disliked. If you are listened to, it would be best to advise the masjid committee to face the exact direction.