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Islam / Cult and Festivals /
Arabic: qiblaPlay sound

The direction in which the believer orients himself or herself for salat, prayer in Islam.
The qibla is always directed towards the Ka'ba of Mecca, but for 1,5 years in early Islam, the qibla was Jerusalem (from 622 to 624). Other religions had their qiblas at the time of early Islam, and even before Muhammad. The change of the qibla is recorded in the Koran, as a reprimand agaisnt complaining people:
Koran sura 2: The Cow
136...Unwise people will say: What made them change the qibla they had? Answer them: God is of the east and of the west, he guides the ones he pleases on the right path...
What qibla did Muhammad and the first Muslims have before they started to turn towards Jerusalem? On this point, three opinions exist in the Sunna: Jerusalem was the qibla; Ka'ba was the qibla; and the qibla was on a line, the one running from Jerusalem to Ka'ba.
Inside a mosque the qibla is indicated by a mihrab, a niche in the wall. When salat is performed outdoors, one uses what is known as sutra, which can be almost any object, to indicate the qibla. In some older mosques, the indication of the qibla evicences error due to limited knowledge about how to find the correct direction.
The qibla has importance to more than just the salat, and plays an important part in everyday ceremonies. The head of an animal that is slaughtered is aligned with qibla. People are buried with their face in the direction of the qibla. Lovemaking is best done with the heads facing the qibla. The qibla is thus important, and it is believed that directing things towards the qibla will determine whether an act performed is useful or useless.

By Tore Kjeilen