Art Spots, Pathways of Faith

The Qur’an on the Qibla

About This Resource

The orientation of prayer was not simply a matter of traditional practice but was a mandate issued from God to the Prophet Muhammad. However, in the very earliest days before the instructions were given, Muslims prayed in the direction of Jerusalem, following the example of the Jews. Within seventeen months after the Hijra [the emigration from Mecca to Medina], the Prophet directed them to pray toward Mecca, leading them to do this during the morning prayer.

Annotation by D. Fairchild Ruggles.

The photograph shows the mihrab[niche] of the Córdoba Mosque, which indicates the direction of the qibla.


The foolish will now ask and say:

“What has made the faithful turn away

from the Qiblah towards which they used to pray?”

Say: “To God belong the East and the West.

He guides who so wills to the path that is straight.”

(Surat al-Baqarah, 2:142)


Wherever you come from

turn towards the Holy Mosque:

This in truth is from your Lord.

God is not negligent of all you do.

Whichever place you come from

turn towards the Holy Mosque,

and wherever you are, turn your faces towards it

so that people may have no cause

for argument against you,

except such among them as are wicked.

(Surat al-Baqarah, 2:149-partial 150)

Translation: Ali, Ahmed. Al-Qur’an: A Contemporary Translation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984.


Ruggles, D. Fairchild, ed. Islamic Art and Visual Culture: An Anthology of Sources. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011, pp. 7-8. Image credit: Cordoba Mosque mihrab, Album / Art Resource, NY.

How to Cite This Page

"Muslim Journeys | Item #206: The Qur’an on the Qibla", June 20, 2024


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