Change in direction for Mosque

Source: Asian Image Reporter, Wednesday 7th May 2008

A Mosque has changed the direction in which worshippers pray after it was revealed the direction of Makkah was over 35 degrees out.

The Lancashire mosque recently underwent renovations and during this period the Qiblah direction was changed.

To avoid confusion a full explanation has been given by the man who has conducted detailed research into the direction of Makkah.

The Qiblah is an Arabic word for the direction that should be faced when a Muslim performs his or her prayer.

Maulana Yusuf Patel who presented the research that led to the change said, “It is not unusual for mosques in the UK to change the direction of the Qiblah.

“Many mosques in the UK were built before the advent of satellite technology.

“Now that we have access to the technology it is only wise to use it to find out the exact direction of the Qiblah.”

The research found a common problem in ascertaining the Qiblah, “It was widely assumed that the Qiblah of the UK is south east at 135 degrees. However, the Qiblah for Blackburn is at 118 degrees from north.

“In the case of this particular mosque, the building direction is at 151 degrees and the deviation from the actual Qiblah was 33 degrees, not 16 degrees as previously assumed.

“The fact that the Qiblah for the Mosques in Blackburn is at 118 degrees from north is proven according to satellite technology.

“Before the advent of the satellite system, Muslim Astronomers laid down the sun method to calculate the Qiblah as the sun is positioned directly above Makkah on certain dates. This method was also used to confirm the Qiblah to be at 118 degrees.”

Muslims consider the direction of Qiblah very important because the fact that all Muslims pray towards the Ka’ba is traditionally considered to be symbol of the unity of all Muslims worldwide under the law of God.

Some Muslim Scholars believe that as long as the direction is within 24 degrees of the actual Qiblah the prayer is valid. Whilst others believe that a maximum of 45 degrees deviation from the exact direction of the Ka’bah is acceptable. Any direction exceeding the 45 degrees limit than the actual Qiblah direction must be changed, and this change has occurred in a few mosques of Preston couple of years ago.

Moulana Yusuf emphasised, “This difference of opinion amongst scholars does not mean one should intentionally deviate the Qiblah to 24 or 45 degrees. For this reason, many mosques are within the exact Qiblah direction especially those recently built or renovated.

“According to the research, the Blackburn Markaz Makki Masjid off London Road and the Zakariyya Jame Mosque in Bolton were two of the most accurate and the Qibla direction is almost precise.

“Many mosques are within 5-10 degrees of the exact direction and this is acceptable by scholars.”

The Qiblah change has occurred in many parts of the country due to the fact that technology and information is easily accessible and this could possibly lead to change in other mosques especially those that are more than 24 degrees out.