Imam Fakhr al Din Al-Raazi, in his commentary of Surah Fatiha in Tafseer Al-Kabeer identifies five components of a few things both known and unknown to the faithful. These are: the five pillars of Islam, five senses, five obligatory prayers, five key components of Surah Fatiha, five types of self and five stages of Qibla. Of these, I found his account of the five Qiblas little known to most Muslims. According to Al-Raazi, these are: Bait al-Maqdas, Al-Kaaba, Bait al-Mamoor, Al-Arsh and Hadara Jalal Allah. Although Imam Raazi does not elaborate on them, it is important to recognise them as symbols of Allah which have inspired billions of Allah’s slaves to seek the Light (Noor) of their Creator both in this world and in the hereafter.
إِنَّ الصَّفَا وَالْمَرْوَةَ مِن شَعَآئِرِ اللّهِ فَمَنْ حَجَّ الْبَيْتَ أَوِ اعْتَمَرَ فَلاَ جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِ أَن يَطَّوَّفَ بِهِمَا وَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَإِنَّ اللّهَ شَاكِرٌ عَلِيمٌ
Translation: “Verily, (the mountains of) As-Safa and Al-Marwah (in Makkah) are the symbols of Allah. So it is not a sin on him who performs Hajj or Umrah of the House (the Kaaba) to make rounds between them (Tawaf). And whoever does good voluntarily, then verily, Allah rewards good deeds and knows everything.” [Surah Al Baqarah 2:158]
We know from our study of the Seerah of prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah Subhanuhu wa Taa’la be on him, that even before five time prayers were made obligatory for the believers, the direction of Qibla was Bait-al-Maqdas in Jerusalem which today comprises the area of the Sacred Mosque and the Dome of the Rock on the Muslim part of Temple Mount from where prophet Muhammad ascended the heavens in the night of Ascension.
سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَى بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلاً مِّنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ البَصِيرُ
Translation: “Exalted is He (Allah) who took His servant by night from Masjid al-Haram to Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of our signs. Indeed, He (Allah) is the Hearing, the Seeing.” [Surah Al-Isra 17:1]
However, about two years after prophet Muhammad moved to Madinah (623 AD) the Qibla was changed from Bait al-Maqdas to Al-Kaaba in Makkah.
قَدْ نَرَى تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَاء فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةً تَرْضَاهَا فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّواْ وُجُوِهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ أُوْتُواْ الْكِتَابَ لَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ وَمَا اللّهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا يَعْمَلُونَ
Translation: “Indeed, We (Allah) see you O Prophet turning your face towards heaven. Now We will make you turn towards a direction of prayer that will please you. So turn your face towards the Sacred Mosque in Makkah—wherever you are, turn your faces towards it. Those who were given the Scripture certainly know this to be the truth from their Lord. And Allah is never unaware of what they do.” [Surah Al-Baqarah 2;144]
The Kaaba in Makkah is a pre-Islamic structure which was for years a hallowed place of worship for the various tribes of Arabia. It succumbed to natural calamities like fire and flood and was destroyed and rebuilt several times in the past. However, throughout history, it remained Allah’s sacred house. A few years before the birth of prophet Muhammad who eventually de-idolised the Kaaba in the tenth year of Hijrah, an elephant army which came from Yemen under the command of a king named Abrahah Al-Ashram intending to destroy the Kaaba at Makkah was destroyed by a swarm of flying birds sent by Allah. [Surah Al-Fil 105 1 to 5].
In the historical accounts of the Kaaba it is said that the very first Qibla built by prophet Adam was located on the same foundations as its present day site in Makkah. The Kaaba was rebuilt by prophet Abraham and his son Ismail and remained a place of worship for all until prophet Noah when the flood overtook every dry piece of land on earth and the Kaaba was raised up to the heavens where it now exists as Bait al-Mamoor. A reference to Bait-al-Mamoor appears in the Quran very briefly in Surah Al-Tur.
Translation: “And consider the long standing sacred House in the heavens”. [Surah Al-Tur 52:4]
In describing Bait al-Mamoor, a Hadith from Shahih Bokhari and Muslim informs readers that when prophet Mohammad was taken to the heavens by archangel Gabriel on the night of Ascension, he was shown Bait al-Mamoor. According to this Hadith, 70,000 angels perform prayers and circumbulation around this Sacred ouse and every night they are replaced by a new group of 70,000 angels who have never been to Bait al-Mamoor before. Commentators have added that Bait al-Mamoor is located directly on top of the Kaaba on the seventh heaven.
When the blowing of the Trumpet will cause the skies and earth to be rolled up like a scroll [21:104] يَوْمَ نَطْوِي السَّمَاء كَطَيِّ السِّجِلِّ لِلْكُتُبِ and every grave will throw up men and women who will come out with humiliated eyes to return to their Lord for judgement [54:7]
خُشَّعًا أَبْصَارُهُمْ يَخْرُجُونَ مِنَ الْأَجْدَاثِ كَأَنَّهُمْ جَرَادٌ مُّنتَشِرٌ everything on earth including Bait al-Maqdas in Jerusalem and Al-Kaaba in Makkah will be destroyed [كُلُّ مَنْ عَلَيْهَا فَانٍ [55:26.
The next Qibla after Bait al-Mamoor is Al-Arsh which is the Throne of Allah. It has existed even before the creation of the universe and will be the focal point of everyone’s attention on the Day of Judgement.
وَالْمَلَكُ عَلَى أَرْجَائِهَا وَيَحْمِلُ عَرْشَ رَبِّكَ فَوْقَهُمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ ثَمَانِيَةٌ
Translation: “The angels will be on all sides of it and, on that Day, eight of them will bear the Throne of your Lord above them.” [Surah Al-Haaqah 69:17]
وَتَرَى الْمَلَائِكَةَ حَافِّينَ مِنْ حَوْلِ الْعَرْشِ يُسَبِّحُونَ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّهِمْ وَقُضِيَ بَيْنَهُم بِالْحَقِّ وَقِيلَ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
Translation: “You [Prophet] will see the angels surrounding the Throne, glorifying their Lord with praise. True judgement will have been passed between them, and it will be said, ‘Praise be to God, the Lord of the Worlds.” [Surah Al-Zumar 39:75]
It is learnt from Ahadith that on the Day of Judgement every soul present for accountability will be eager to come under the shadow of Al-Arsh which will be the most sought after place for receiving the mercy and blessing of Allah.
The fifth and final stage of Qibla is Hadara Jalal Allah (presence before the good and gracious Lord) which will be allowed to only those whom Allah will please. But they will be among the residents of Jannah. These lucky and successful people who will have everything available to them in paradise will still be hungry for a look of Allah, which will be the highest reward for them both spiritually for their hearts and minds and sensually for their eyes. The light (Noor) of Allah will be a source of their happiness and energy which will keep them fresh in paradise without fatigue or any weakness.
إِلَى رَبِّهَا نَاظِرَةٌ . وُجُوهٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ نَّاضِرَة
Translation: “On that Day some faces will glow bright with happiness, looking at their Lord.” [Surah Al-Qiyamah 75:22 and 23]
After the change of Qibla which took place during the life of prophet Muhammad, Muslims no longer face toward the Sacred Mosque in Jerusalem to offer prayers. However, it remains an important part of their religious experience which started from the prophethood of Muhammad until about 2 Hijra when the Kaaba in Makkah was made their Qibla. It is therefore important to remember that after the Trumpet has blown and the world has come to an end, the Qibla for the Muslims will not be the Kaaba but Bait-al-Mamoor or Al-Arsh itself, if in His infinite Wisdom and Plan Allah keeps it reserved only for the use of the angels. Allah knows best, for we are given only limited knowledge of the heaven and afterlife.
February 22, 2018