# Navigating The Qibla: Discovering The Direction of Mecca in Islamic Prayer

Navigating the Qibla: A Guide to Spiritual Alignment – Understanding the Significance of Facing Mecca in Muslim Worship” Muslim prayers have a geographic perspective now not observed in other spiritual traditions.

The holiest site in Islam is the Kaaba, a mosque in Mecca, and observant Muslims perform their daily prayers literally going through that spot.

But identifying which manner to pray isn’t quite as easy as it appears-specially in the very odd case of Tematangi, a far flung atoll in French Polynesia.

In the Quran, the direction that Muslims are advised to stand once they pray is known as the qibla, which means that “route” in Arabic.

The want to calculate the qibla efficiently turned into one aspect that caused the improvement of sophisticated math and geography inside the Arab global in the course of the so-referred to as “Islamic Golden Age,” among the 8th and 13th centuries.

On a flat Earth, calculating the qibla might be easy: You could use a “rhumb line,” a line of popular bearing that crossed all meridians of longitude on the equal angle. If you had been praying in Anchorage, Alaska, for example, you’d face Mecca with the aid of dealing with kind of west-southwest.

But here’s the hassle: The Earth is spherical. Most pupils of Islam, from the Middle Ages up to today, have encouraged that believers pray the usage of a so-referred to as “splendid circle” to discover the course of least distance to Mecca.

By this math, a Muslim in Anchorage could honestly face almost due north to pray! (Check a globe in case you don’t agree with me on this.)

Qibla math gets even trickier while you’re no longer on Earth. Nine Muslims were to area, on a sequence of American and Russian missions, and when a Muslim astronaut is in low Earth orbit, the location of Mecca can shift nearly one hundred eighty degrees earlier than he or she will be able to end a prayer.

A 2007 survey of Muslim scientists commissioned by means of Malaysia’s space organization recommended that space going Muslims do the first-class they can “primarily based on what is viable.” Sometimes, said the students, simply dealing with kind of in the qibla of Earth is all you could do.

This brings us (in the end!) to the lonely atoll of Tematangi, once referred to as Bligh’s Lagoon Island due to the fact the notorious Captain Bligh (of Mutiny at the Bounty repute) changed into the first European to discover it.

Thirty miles northwest of Tematangi is the point on Earth that’s exactly antipodal (or opposite) to Mecca. In other words, Muslims praying off the coast of Tematangi ought to, in principle, face literally any direction they wanted and have or not it’s a correct qibla to the Kaaba.

But the spot is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, so it likely doesn’t arise lots.