You don't need to be a mathematical genius or equipped with expensive technical equipment to find the direction of Qiblah, all you need is familiarisation with some key facts and basic terms which have served humanity as a guide for navigation for thousands of years.
There is no disagreement amongst Muslims that Masjidul-Haram should be faced when praying Salah.
When inside the Masjid itself then the Kaa'bah has to be faced and hence Muslims line up in a circular fashion as shown here.
These circular lines are extended as you move away throughout the rest of the world but the general concept is still the same.
Shaykh (Mufti) Shafi Usmani (HA) explains that the rules of Shariah are based on ease and not on any philosophical technicalities. After giving some examples of this Hadrat Mufti Saheb goes on to explain that the basis of calculating the Qibla is the narration wherein Sayyidina Rasul-ullah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassalam) mentions that whatever is between the east and west is the Qibla. Though this ruling is for the people of Madina Munawwara, but from this we deduce that in looking for the Qibla we need not to go in to any technical issues.
The honourable Sahaba (RA) based the Qibla on some major signs which denoted upon the Qibla, without going into any technicalities, using their discretion stipulated the Qibla. Those who followed the Sahaba (RA) also accepted their discretion. Allama Maqrizi (RA) mentions that when Ahmed Tulun intended to build a Masjid in Egypt he sent some people to Madina Munawwara to find out the Qibla of Masjid Nabawi (Sallaho Alaihe Wassalam) and thereafter build his Masjid according to that calculation. This differed with the Qibla of the Masjid of Sayyidina Amr ibn Al-Aas (RA). However, the Ulama still preferred the Qibla of Sayyidina Amr ibn Al-Aas (RA) and built new Masjids in Egypt according to it.
There was a group of Sahaba (RA) who used their discretion in stipulating the Qibla of Masjid of Sayyidina Amr ibn Al-Aas (RA) despite the fact that there were astronomers in Egypt.
Thereafter Shaykh (Mufti) Shafi Usmani (HA) explains that in places where there are Masjids already built the Qibla will be based on these Masajid.
Areas where there are no old Masajid then we will follow the method of the Sahaba (RA) in calculating their Qibla (i.e. using ones discretion and looking at signs stipulate the Qibla.)
It is not permissible to use astronomical calculations in areas were Masajid already exist. Unless there is a strong possibility that the Qibla of those Masajid are wrong. In areas which do not have old Masajid then the Ulama differ regarding the permissibility of using astronomical calculations. Allama Shami (RA) narrates the Hanafi Madhab gives permission to use these calculations.
The most Authentic way to find Qiblah (4 times a year)
On the following two dates/times when you face the Sun you will be facing the Qiblah because the Sun will be directly above the Kaa'ba.
1: May 28th at 09:18 UT Click to Convert to your local time
2: July 15th at 09:27 UT Click to Convert to your local time
On the following two dates/times when you face your shadow you will be facing the direction of the Qiblah, providing that there is sunlight on your location and if you cannot see the shadow simply turn your back towards the sun and your face will be facing the Qiblah.
1: November 28th at 21:09 UT Click to Convert to your local time
2: January 13th at 21:29 UT Click to Convert to your local time
This article will therefore focus on circumstances when someone is travelling and unable to find a Masjid and needs to locate the direction of Qiblah to offer their prayers.
This article is relevant to the Northern Hemisphere which covers:
1 Entirety of Europe
2 Entirety of North America,
Before beginning you will need to know the most basic direction of Qiblah from your country, understand what it is and how to find it using North. You can find the Qiblah direction from your country using Islamic Finder or Qibla Locator or even Google Map
1 Know the general direction of Qiblah from your country
2 Memorise it
3 You don't need to know the exact degrees so knowing SE (South-East) etc would be sufficient.
There are four basic directions which are:
1 North and then moving clockwise
3 South (directly opposite to North)
4 West (directly opposite to East)
A compass is a simple navigational equipment in use for over 2000 years. Whether you use a digital compass (on your iphone) or a traditional compass with a needle; as long as it's working and free from interference it will point to "Magnetic North" which is the Earth's Magnetic Pole. For simplicity, assume that the compass always points to North.
As stated earlier that there are actually four directions and each of them are then subdivided as shown which looks a little complicated but the picture is being given for illustration only.
In fact your task is a lot simpler. If we draw the four directions on a paper with the north point up (and assign it degree 0) as we move clockwise we will get to East (90), South (270) and West (270) and then back to North (360). If you are looking for 120 degrees which is roughly the direction of Qiblah from London see how it pans out in the figure shown:
All you need to know is to figure our “North” and armed with your knowledge of Qiblah direction you can Insha’Allah pray. You don’t even need to know the exact degrees a rough idea (SE etc) would also be sufficient for this purpose.
Using an ordinary Compass to find North
There is no need to buy a specialised Qiblah compass etc as a normal and ordinary compass will point North. Just remember that it’s not a good idea to use a compass indoors due to magnetic interference so always use a compass outdoors.Once you know North then you are up and away with finding the direction of the Qiblah.
Using an ordinary Compass Watch to find North
There is no need to buy a specialised Qiblah compass watch etc as a normal and ordinary compass watch will point North. Just remember that it’s not a good idea to use a compass indoors due to magnetic interference so always use a compass outdoors.Once you know North then you are up and away with finding the direction of the Qiblah.
Using the sun at Noon to find North
In the Northern Hemisphere the sun always rises from the east and sets in the west and at noon it is in the middle of the horizon so when you face the sun and walk towards it you will be walking South and your back will be towards North.
Using the sun and an analgoue watch outside of Noon to find North
1 Place your watch flat on the floor
2 Point the Hour hand at the Sun
3 Imagine an angle created between your hour hand and the 12 o/clock position
4 Then draw an imaginary line bisecting that angle and the line will represent “South” with “North” in the opposite direction.
Using the sun and and a stick outside of Noon to find North
1 Place a stick into the ground (or use an existing object) like a Pole
2 Mark its shadow with a stone and this is West
3 Wait 15 minutes
4 Now mark the shadow with a stone and this is East
5 Draw a line between the first mark (3) and the second mark (4) and this is your West-East Line
6 Draw a straight line between the two markings and that is North
Using Stars to find North
On a normal night it is fairly easy to find the "Big Dipper" it is shaped like a question mark and may appear in various forms of a question mark ( straight, upside down, backwards) in your night sky, depending on your location. In UK it is called a Plough.
Once you have spotted it you need to start drawing an imaginary line starting from Merak which is the second star at the tip of your question mark and join in to Dubhe which is the tip of the question mark and then extend that line until it is about 4-5 times the distance between Merak and Dubhe to spot Polaris (North Star).
Polaris (North Star) points to North.
Qiblah direction using Google
You can find the direction of Qiblah from your location by using the widget below.
May Allah (SWT) reward Br Abu Mohammed for his assistance in creating his article and his research at Muftisays.