Umrah: (Part 3) – The Mosques of Quba and Qiblatain
Masjid al Quba
On Monday, September 23, 622, prophet Mohammed, sallalahu ‘alaihi wassalam, arrived at a town in Madinah named Quba. He stayed with Khulthum bin Al-hadm, a hospitable chief of the tribe of ‘Amr bin ‘Awf. Here he spent four days, and it was during this period that the foundation of the Quba masjid was laid, based on pure piety.
‘Verily, the mosque whose foundation was laid from the first day on piety is more worthy that you stand therein (to pray).’ Quran 9:108
Prophet Mohammed, sallalahu ‘alaihi wassalam, positioned its first stones and was completed by his companions, making Masjid al Quba the first mosque in the history of Islam whose foundation stone was laid by the prophet Mohammed, sallalahu ‘alaihi wassalam, himself and is also the first mosque in which he prayed with his companions openly in congregation.
The Prophet, sallalahu ‘alaihi wassalam, said:
‘Whoever performs ablution at home, then comes to the Quba mosque to perform prayer therein, will get the reward of Umrah.’ (Al Tirmidhi)
Masjid al Qiblatain
Masjid al Qiblatain, or the ‘Mosque with Two Qiblas’, is one of the oldest mosques in the world and is unique because it contains two mihrabs – one in the direction of Bayt al Muqaddas (Jerusalem) and the other facing Ka’aba.
In Madinah, the Jews offered their prayers facing Bayt al Muqaddas. The Prophet, sallalahu ‘alaihi wassalam, and his companions also offered prayers facing the same direction. This had been their practice from Makkah and had continued until the second year after hijrah. But the Jews argued that though the Muslims claimed to have a religion whose laws superseded all other previous laws, they don’t have their own qiblah to face.
Upon receiving this news the Prophet, sallalahu ‘alaihi wassalam, used to come out at night and look into the sky – thinking and waiting for a revelation from Allah. The following verse was then revealed:
‘Verily! We have seen the turning of your (Mohammed’s) face towards the heaven. Surely, We shall turn you to a qiblah (prayer direction) that shall please you, so turn your face to the direction of al Masjid al Haram (at Makkah). And wheresoever you people are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction.’ Qur’an 2:144
The Prophet Mohammed, sallalahu ‘alaihi wassalam, had already finished the second raka’at of the noon (dhu’r or as’r) prayer facing Jerusalem, when Jibraeel alayhis salaam, communicated the command of Allah to him to turn around completely. So Prophet Mohammed, sallalahu ‘alaihi wassalam, turned his body and faced Ka’aba during prayer, and so did his followers. This happened two months before the battle of Badr.
The change in the direction of the qiblah also served as a test of faith for the people. They were tested by seeing if any of them refused or delayed turning towards the new qiblah as ordered by Allah.
‘We decreed your former qiblah only so that We may know the Prophet’s true followers and those who were to deny him. It was indeed a hard test, but not for those whom Allah has guided…’ Qur’an 2:143
‘From wherever you come out, turn your face towards the Sacred Mosque. It is certainly the truth from your Lord. Allah is not heedless of what you do. From wherever you come out, turn your face towards the Sacred Mosque. Wherever you are, turn your faces towards it so that the people will have no argument against you, except for those among them who do wrong. Do not fear them, but rather fear Me, so that I can complete My blessing on you so that perhaps you may be guided.’ Qur’an 2:148-149