Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ramadan and the Jerusalem qibla

The new moon was sighted. Ramadan has begun.
Ramadan kareem to all our Muslim blogger-friends.
Coming this year as it does in the heat of summer [as in, Robin's Summer Stock], the holy month must be a great challenge to observant Muslims, who may neither eat nor drink from sunrise to sunset.
This is a copy of part of an old mosque in the Tower of David Museum of Jerusalem History.
The minbar is a stepped pulpit from which the imam preaches.
The mihrab is a niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla, that is, the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca and hence the direction that Muslims should face when praying.

But it was not always so.
Like Jews then and now, the earliest Muslims also prayed in the direction of Jerusalem, specifically, facing the Haram e-Sharif (what we call the Temple Mount).
To quote Wikipedia --
"This first qibla was used for over 13 years, from 610 CE until 623 CE. . . .
According to accounts from the prophet Muhammad's companions, the change happened very suddenly during the noon prayer in Medina, in a mosque now known as Masjid al-Qiblatain (Mosque of the Two Qiblahs). Muhammad was leading the prayer when he received revelations from Allah instructing him to take the Kaaba as the Qiblah.
According to the historical accounts, Muhammad, who had been facing Jerusalem, upon receiving this revelation, immediately turned around to face Mecca, and those praying behind him also did so."
And the rest is history.
UPDATE: Sarah of Mashhad (IRAN) Daily Photos
has contributed new information and also personal insights in a comment. Don't miss it!
And now good input is given also by "Green," whom I am sure you all remember.
Thank you, my young friends, for sharing your knowledge and opinions.


Kay said...

It's so interesting to learn the historical significance of why and how religions have certain customs. Not eating and drinking on a hot day must definitely be a challenge for devout Muslims.

Susie of Arabia said...

Wow, Dina - that was really interesting. I had never heard or read that before. Thanks!

Glennis said...

I guess it must be hard to go without water all day on a hot summers day, and it would not be good for ones body either.

Yaelian said...

What an interesting posting!

greensboro daily photo said...

Very interesting bit of religious history! Amazing how textural the photos look in the absence of color!

Happy Sacred Sunday!

RuneE said...

That was one of the more informative posts I have read for a long time - thank you!

Leora said...

Thanks for the Ramadan information. And the great photos, too!

Dianne said...

the photo is lovely
thank you for all this information

Hilda said...

Thank you for the very interesting lessons in religious architecture and history.

I'd definitely have a hard time with the not drinking part.

JM said...

Wonderful post. The first shot is awesome!
It was Ramadan when I visited Egypt, I've learned so much! Fantastic experience!

Sarah said...

Thank you Dina, It was really nice to read. I though fasting should be much difficult at the hot days of this summer, but now this is the second day of our fasting and I am so GOOD, with a special feeling, much close to God...can not describe it!
About the qibla, as you wrote, The Haramo alsharif was the first qibla for praying God, those days in the Mecca, Jewish people tell prophet Muhhamad that Muslims do not have any independent qibla for themselves and pray direct to our qibla, they started to challenge with Muhammad (S) and taunt him. These actions made Muhammad (S) sad. Finally, God send a message to the Prophet Muhammd and asks him to pray face to Kabaa! It is written at the second surah of holy Quran, too.
How ever seeking God and praying him is more important than what religion we believe in.
There is a Persian proverb which is says: Mousa be dine khod, Eisaa be dine khod! In English: Moses in his own religion, Christ in his own religion! Exactly means we can not twit each other and say why you believe in … or not believe in …! All people are free to choose their own way ;)

Dina said...

Shalom to all and thanks for your interesting responses.

Sarah, I really appreciate your taking time to add information and personal insights.
In the several sources that I had read online, no one explained WHY the qibla was changed. I am enjoying learning about this for the first time.
Thank you! Continued blessings to you.

Jew Wishes said...

I enjoyed reading the historical background.

Your photos are illuminating, beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Most interesting fact about the prayer custom and how it was changed.

I have the answer to fried mush on the Pick a Peck of Pixels blog under your comment.

I hated to leave it here.

Sara said...

One of the things I enjoy about your blog is the way you share with us the many different aspects of culture, tradition and history to be found in your part of the world, and all your good information. I read Sarah's comment with interest too. It's always good to learn more and increase understanding. Thank you!

Green said...

Nice post. I like it.

That's true both what you and Sarah have said. One another reason that Mohammad was not praying in the direction of Kaba at first is on that time Kaba was full of different idols from different tribes and places. Before Mohammad, Kaba was already a center for idol worshipers. They put their idols inside Kaba and they were doing sort of worshiping around it. Because of that Mohammad was praying in the direction of Jerusalem at first not to give idol worshipers an excuse. One day he entered Kaba and broke all the idols. It was at the same time when Jews were criticizing him because of facing toward Jerusalem as Sara said. After that the qibla changed from Jerusalem to Kaba.

There are a few very interesting points here. Why Mohammad was facing in the direction of Jerusalem at first? He could choose another arbitrary direction. Jerusalem is really a special place. There is no question about it. It really does not matter if we call it Temple Mount, or Masjed Aqsa or what ever. The point is the same which is praying the God.

Another interesting point is how important qibla is? Does it really matter in what direction you pray God? Qibla is not important. Qibla is just a face. It is not the core. The real qibla is your heart. Anyone can pray God anytime and anywhere facing in the direction of his/her heart. That's why in Islam, when you are out somewhere you don't know to what direction you should pray. It is said don't worry about it. Pray the God in any direction you like if you are not sure. The real qibla is inside yourself.

We have similar statements for jihad which is sometimes criticized by westerns as a cruel law. I think it is written in the book, that the biggest jihad is "self-jihad" which basically means you should fight with yourself to correct your own way of life first, to correct your behaviors and act like a good person. One more thing that I'm sure you may not know is jihad is not only a holy war. Jihad is any effort you are making to correct first yourself, then your own society and then others if needed. One can do jihad with his/her life, money, time, strength, brain or anything else he/she has. It is said "The pens of scientisits are more respectful than the blood of martyrs." That's why if a scientist dies while he/she is doing research or writting something that will help the people's life, he/she is considered as a martyr.

Unfortunately these aspects of Islam are not seen today and many Muslims are not aware of the real philosophy of Islamic laws. I think this way of thinking is called Liberal Islam.

Petrea said...

Thank you. Beautiful, all of it: photos, words and comments. I always like hearing from Sarah and Green, too. This would be a good day to check their blogs!

Robin said...

I too thought it must be more difficult to fast in such heat. It certainly makes the Jewish fast on Yom Kippur harder.

Ramadan Kareem to all celebrating this month.

ical said...

Thanks for the greeting, Dina. I just on the beginning of the third day of Ramadan. so far so good.

kaye said...

so very interesting, and I loved the light coming down the stairwell.

Cloudia said...

Interesting and worthy post!


Comfort Spiral

Pietro said...

Dina, in your interesting blog there are always things to learn.
Nice photos and good explanation.

Sarah said...

Thank you my dear Dina ;)

Turquoise Diaries said...

Very nice post and comments Dina. I dont fast, but my mom does. So Ramadan is a special month at the house when we are together.

Susie of Arabia said...

I really enjoyed the additions that Sarah and Green made to the information you originally supplied. And I especially enjoyed Green's statement that the real Qibla is in your heart. Thank you, Dina, Sarah, and Green!

9uy said...

I was happy to find your Jerusalem blog.

מזכיר לי את השנים שלמדתי בהר הצופים

אני מתגעגע....

Pietro said...

I agree with Sarah. It's important seeking and praying God. Sometimes I hear "the God of the Jews, the God of the Muslims, the God of the Christians", but I never hear "the sun of the Jews, the sun of the Muslims, the sun of the Christians" or "the universe of the Jews, the universe of the Muslims, the universe of the Christians".

mirae said...

hi beautiful Dina. thanks for another profound post.
I agree that there are many sacred paths to celebrate life and each individual has a right to select his own unique path but on the otherhand it is wise to consider that if someone chooses a relgious path then tradition and historical influence of the religion is a profound pool of strength to draw on. I will give an example of the tradition of Islam that I drew strength from even though I have been baptized as catholic.
Here I will add to this comment another comment it is getting kind of long...

mirae said...

So this is a mystical experience related to the force of the tradition of religion

A teenage boy in my city died and it was proven that the incompetency of the adults in charge of him was a contribution to the death.

I was not involved in this but I work in this field and as I read an article in our local newspaper that outlined a list of incompetent acts that led to this death of an Islam boy my inner world became a whirlwind and as I read the last line of the article that stated that the boy was put to rest facing Mecca following the Islamic tradition even though my world spun around suddenly I had a pole to lean on and all the years of Islamic tradition rushed through me to prop me up...

mirae said...

oh and yes I forgot to mention something relevant I did know this teenager.

FA said...

Dina, interesting post. I enjoyed reading the comments, too. Sarah's, especially, reminded me of a Muslim mother that I met when I was a hospital chaplain intern. I walked into the hospital room knowing that they were Muslim, but not sure how to offer service. The mother must have sensed that because she welcomed me into the room and asked me to pray with them because we shared Abraham - our father in faith. The graces of that experience have always stayed with me.