Muslims consider prayer a central and daily part of the Islam religion. Significant is the Qibla (also known as Qiblah, Kibla or Kiblah) or the direction to face during prayer. All Muslims in the world pray toward Kaaba, the sacred shrine in Mecca.
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Recognize that you'll find disagreement among Muslims in North America as to what is the true direction of Qibla. An early method of looking at North America as a flat plane reveals Mecca as southeast of North America.
Use spherical trigonometry to determine the Qibla direction since the Earth is indeed a sphere and not flat. On the other hand, if trigonometry isn't your thing, run a string from Alaska to Mecca, which has you passing over the North Pole to get there. Using this "great circle route," Muslims in North America would face north or northeast for prayer.
Glance at your calendar if you want another way to determine Qibla, which is the same way that many mosques verify direction. For two days a year-May 28 and July 16-the sun is directly over Kaaba at noon. Adjust your time for noon at Kaaba and face the sun. For example, it's 6 a.m. in Maine when it's noon at Mecca.
Figure out Qibla on other calendar dates as well. On November 28 and January 13, the sun will be opposite of Mecca. Therefore, you just need to put your back to the sun.
Find a Qibla compass. Unlike a regular compass showing magnetic north, a Qibla compass has zones. With a booklet providing numbers for about 600 North American cities, you can arrange for your compass to point the way to face for Muslim prayer.
Rejoice in technology. Perhaps the easiest way to locate Qibla is to enter your address from anywhere in the world, and allow the Qibla locator to show you a map with a red line showing the direction to face.
Do your best to locate Qibla, but if you are unable to locate it, it is acceptable to pray in any direction as long as your intent is true.
Tips and warnings
- A new watch for either men or women, the Al-Asr Watch, promises to point to Qibla. However, the watches sell out quickly and are hard to find.
- Some people believe that metallic objects interfere with the readings on a Qibla compass.
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