Sometimes there is a debate that arises among the Muslims regarding the Qiblah in North America: Is it South East or North East. This differing creates confusion among the Muslims and debates regarding the validity of one’s prayer! In efforts to clarify the issue, I write:
The Qiblah has been determined by the Prophet (ﷺ) from the Hadith of Abu Hurairah raidallahu anhu:
ما بين المشرق والمغرب قبلة
“What is between the east and the west is Qiblah
[Saheeh Tirmidhi no. 342]
Imam Mubaarakfoori rahimahullah explained it saying:
“Suyuti said: that is not general for all lands but only in relation to Honorable Madinah and the likes….[Until he mentioned that Hafidh Ibn Abdul Barr rahimahullah said]..like this the people of Iraaq and Khurasaan have the capacity to face between the south and north similar to the people of Madinah who have the capacity to face between the east and the west”.
So the people who are living east or west of the Ka’bah, their Qiblah is between the North and the South as the Lajnah mentioned in the fatwa here.
Prayer between the North and the South is accepted; however, a Muslim must use the best of his abilities to ascertain the Qiblah accurately. The Scholars say that one should use the compass or in our era Google to help if possible.
Shaikh Yahya al-Hajoori hafidhuhallah said:
“…As for the tool mentioned, Google, then the experts say that it detects the Qiblah with good precision. So it is necessary to benefit from it for the one who is able to do that when seeking the Qiblah. The Qiblah was changed from Masjid al-Aqsa to the Masjid al-Haram after the Companions of the Prophet prayed to the Baytul-Maqdis for eighteen months. When the verse was revealed:
فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ المَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ
so turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid- al-Haram (at Makkah). And wheresoever you people are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction
That reached the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) and some were in prayer, so they turned in their prayer towards it”
And if we use Google or other mapping instruments to ascertain the Qiblah in Toronto, we see it is North East 54.3 degrees as found here in this map from Islamic Finder
The reasons why some people argue that it is South East is because they claim the Earth is flat. The main group that spreads this doubt and makes it a point of differing is the sect called the Ahbaash. They are misguided sect who follow Abdullah al-Habashi (a deviant who was refuted by the Scholars).
It was written about them: “From their strange affairs which caused fitnah between the Muslims, specifically those living in the Canada and America, and which distorts the image of the Muslims, is Ahbash’s attempt to change the Qiblah in America and Canada from North East to the direction of South East. What comes from their understanding is that the Ahbaash deny the roundness of the Earth and say it is flat…”
[Firqatul-Ahbaash Nasha’tuhaa, Aqeedatuhaa, Atharuhaa pg. 1208]
This is erroneous. The earth is not flat as they claim. Rather the Scholars of Islam have declared a consensus that the Earth is round:
Imam Ibn Hazm rahimahullah said:
“There is not a single Scholar from the Muslims who deserves the name/title of being an Imam and having knowledge (may Allah be pleased with them) who denied that the Earth is round. It is not preserved from anyone of them in defending against this statement. Rather the proofs in the Quran and Sunnah have come [to prove] it is round…”.
[al-Fisl fi-Milal wal-Ahwaa wan-Nihal (2/78)]
A similar consensus was mentioned by Shaikhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah rahimahullah and others.
To conclude the issue, the Muslims should ascertain the Qiblah using their knowledge of direction and the tools available to them.
Shaikh Salih al-Fawzaan hafidhuhallah was asked this very question and doubt:
Oh Virtuous Shaikh, the people nowadays in the furthest part of the West in the Two Americas, especially North America, have become confused about the direction of their Qiblah between North and South. There are those who say it is between North and South. However, some say for the people of the East and others say it is for the people of the West in terms of the Earth being round. Since they do not have someone responsible over them, is it allowed for them to rely upon tools/instruments (ie. compass) when they pray at home? Can they rely upon what they find in the Masaajid there in terms of Qiblah. If he prays in a masjid the Qiblah will differ depending on the different opinion of the people?
“The affair is clear, all praise is due to Allah. The affair is clear. They pray to the direction where the Ka’bah is and everyone on the earth knows where Makkah is. They know the direction of Makkah. This [situation] cannot occur except from someone who does not know. Otherwise, the experts the Geographers, the people of well-known instruments/tools [know the direction of Makkah]…[words unclear]…the affair is easy. Yes there are ignorant people who are pretenders of knowledge, it has reached us, that they confuse the people about the Qiblah and invalidate their prayer and disputes arise sometimes. They want to deviate us. Among them are those who have corrupted beliefs and want to confuse Ahlul-Sunnah. Don’t turn towards them and pray to the direction [of the Ka’bah] and all praise is due to Allah. If they need a foundation to rely upon or pray towards, then the direction is not hidden from anyone, all praise is due to Allah. The direction is towards the Honorable Makkah from any place on the Earth. Yes”.
So we should not yield to these doubts and instead pray to the North East which is the direction the majority of the Muslims pray towards in Toronto.
And Allah Knows Best
Faisal Ibn Abdul Qaadir Ibn Hassan