Facing the Qiblah
All scholars agree that one must face the Masjid al-Haram (in Makkah) during every prayer. Says Allah in the Qur’an, “Direct your face to the Masjid al-Haram. Wherever you may be, turn your faces to it” (al-Baqarah 144).
Reported al-Barra’, “We prayed with the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, for about sixteen or seventeen months towards Jerusalem, after which time he turned towards the Ka ‘bah.” (Related by Muslim.)
B: If one can see the Ka’bah, he must face that particular direction
If he cannot see it, he must turn in its direction, as this is all that he is able to do. Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet said, “The qiblah is between the East and the West.” This is related by Ibn Majah and at-Tirmizhi. The latter considers it Hassan Sahih. This hadith refers to the people of Madinah and whoever has a position similar to them (i.e., the people of Syria, the Arabian Peninsula and Iraq. For the people of Egypt, the qiblah is between the East and the South.)
If one cannot determine the direction of the qiblah
He should ask one who knows. If he finds no one to ask, he should try his best to determine it. In such a case, his prayer will be valid, and he need not repeat it even though he discovers later on that he had faced in the wrong direction. If it is made clear to him while he is praying that he is facing the wrong direction, he need only turn in the proper direction without stopping his prayer. This is based on the following incident: Ibn ‘Umar reported that the people were praying the Morning Prayer in the Quba’ mosque when a person came to them and said, “Allah has revealed some of the Qur’an to the Prophet in which we have been ordered to face the Ka’bah, so face it.” They immediately turned their faces from Syria to the Ka’bah.” (Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)
If one prays according to what he determined and then wants to make another prayer, he should again try to determine the qiblah’s direction. If it turns out to be different from what he had determined earlier, he should pray in the new direction without repeating his earlier prayer.
Two cases in which one doesn’t have to face the Ka’bah
The first one is performing voluntary prayers while riding (an animal, car and so on). The rider may bend his head slightly for the bowings and prostrations of the prayer, but he should bend a little bit lower for the prostrations. He may face in whatever direction his ride is going.
Reported ‘Amr ibn Rabi’ah, “I saw the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, pray while riding, and he faced the direction in which he was going.” This hadith is related by Muslim, at-Tirmizhi and al-Bukhari. The latter added that “he bent his head slightly.”
He did not, however, do this for the obligatory prayers. Ahmad, Muslim and at-Tirmizhi recorded that he would pray on his mount while travelling from Makkah to Madinah, facing away from Makkah. Upon this, Allah revealed, “Wherever you turn, you will find Allah’s face.” Says Ibrahim an-Nakha’i, “They would pray on their mounts and animals in the direction in which they were facing.” Ibn Hazm comments, “This has been related from the companions and those of the following generation, during travel and residence. “
The second case is praying while having to deal with forced conditions, illness and fear. Under such circumstances, it is allowed to pray without facing the qiblah. The Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, “If I order you to do something, do what you are capable of doing.” Says Allah, “If you go in fear, then (pray) standing or on your mounts...” (al-Baqarah 239). Ibn ‘Umar added, “Facing the qiblah or not facing it.” (Related by al-Bukhari.)
The state of prayer, Salah
There are many prophetic hadith on this topic. Here, we will mention just two of them, one describing his actions and other quoting his statements.
‘Abdullah ibn Ghanam related that Abu Musa al-Ash’ari gathered together his people saying, “ O Tribe of Ash’ari, gather together, and gather your women and children to teach them how the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, prayed with us in Madinah.” They all gathered to watch him perform ablution. After it, he waited until the sun had just passed the meridian and there was some shade, and then he made the Azhan. He put the men in the row closest to him, the children in a row behind the men, and the women in a row behind the children. After the iqamah, he raised his hands and made the takbir, silently recited Surah al-Fatihah and another surah, repeated the takbir and bowed while saying, “Glory be to Allah and Praise be to Him” three times, after which he said, “Allah hears him who praises Him” and stood straight. He then made the takbir and prostrated, made another takbir, raised his head (and sat), repeated the takbir and prostrated again, after which he said the final takbir and stood up. In the first rak’ah he made six takbir, and he made another one when he stood for the second rak’ah. When he finished the prayer, he turned to his people and said, “Guard the number of my takbir and learn my bowings and prostrations, for this is how the Prophet prayed with us during this part of the day.” (Then he said) when the Prophet, upon whom be peace, finished the prayer, he turned toward the people and said, “O people, listen and understand. Allah has slaves who are neither prophets nor martyrs, but both the prophets and martyrs envy them for their closeness to Allah.” A Bedouin stepped forward, pointed to the Messenger of Allah and said, “O Messenger of Allah, tell us about these people.” The Prophet was pleased with the Bedouin’s request and said, “They are from various peoples and tribes who have no ties of relationship between them. They love each other purely for the sake of Allah. On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will present them pulpits of light for them to sit on. Their faces will be light and their clothes will be light. The people will be scared on the Day of Resurrection, but they will not be scared. They are the friends of Allah who will not have any fear upon them nor will they grieve.
As to the authenticity of this report, it is related by Ahmad and Abu Ya’la with a Hassan chain. Al-Hakim says its chain is Sahih.
Reported Abu Hurairah, “A man entered the mosque and, after praying, went to the Prophet, upon whom be peace. The Prophet, upon whom be peace, responded to his salutations and said, ‘Return and pray, for you have not prayed.’ This happened three times, and the man finally said, ‘By the One who sent you with the Truth, I do not know any better than that, so teach me.’ He said, ‘When you stand for the prayer, make the takbir and then recite what you can from the Qur’an. Then bow until you attain calmness and then come up again until you are standing straight. Then prostrate until you attain calmness in your sitting and prostate until you attain calmness in your prostration. Do that during all of your prayer.” (Related by Ahmad, Muslim and al-Bukhari.)
These are general hadith that describe how the Prophet, upon whom be peace, prayed or what he said about its performance. Now we shall discuss those acts of the prayer which are obligatory and those which are Sunnah.
To be continued