If Ka’aba was the first house of Worship since Adam, why did Prophet Muhammad prayed towards Al Masjid Ala Aqsa in Palestine and back towards Kaaba in Makkah again?

Despite the Kaaba in Makkah= Mecca is the first house of God made on the earth, why should the Prophet peace be upon him and pray toward it?


The same question was inquired by the Jews of Madinah when the Prophet peace be upon him was commanded by Allah (swt) to switch Qibla (prayer direction) towards Makkah:

(Al Quran 2:142) “The foolish people will ask, ‘What has turned them away from the prayer direction they used to face?’ Say, ‘East and West belong to God. He guides whoever He will to the right way.’

The purpose of this verse was to teach that it is not the direction that determines one’s true faith, but it is the obedience to Allah (swt) that determines it. First, it should be noted that before his emigration to Madinah, Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him always faced Jerusalem because of it being the place of revelation and many Prophets for centuries.

He, also being a chosen one of Allah Exalted He, knew the importance of Jerusalem as the center point of unitarian faith.

However, it is also important to know that the personal preference of the Prophet was not to face Jerusalem, in fact Kabah in Makkah was his heart’s desire because it was the first house built for the worship of One God by Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) peace be upon him.

Thus, before his emigration he prayed, as a rule, before the southern wall of the Kabah, towards the north, so as to face both the Kabah and Jerusalem. After moving to Madinah, he continued to pray northwards, with only Jerusalem as his qibla (prayer direction) until the verses revealed having fulfilled his desire of permanently turning towards the Kaaba:

(Al Quran 2:144) Many a time We have seen you [Prophet] turn your face towards Heaven, so We are turning you towards a prayer direction that pleases youTurn your face in the direction of the Masjid Al Haram (Kabah): wherever you [believers] may be, turn your faces to it.

Those who were given the Scripture know with certainty that this is the Truth from their Lord: God is not unaware of what they do.

The Kaaba’s foundation in Makkah=Mecca was the original place built as an altar for worship and to offer sacrifices before the creation of man. The Old Testament often mentions this place that is situated in the wilderness of Paran.

Allah instructed Abraham to leave his 2nd wife Agar (in Arabic Hagar) and their first newborn infant son Ismael by this altar, after they were rejected and denied his inheritance by the 1st wife Sarah. Abraham left them on their own and returned home, this was a great test of faith.

Shortly afterwards their provisions ran out and Agar (in Arabic Hagar) was starting to panic then Angel Gabriel opened a well/spring for them to drink, over 4000 years the ZamZam still flows up to this very day.

Allah promised Abraham and Agar (in Arabic Hagar) to make their son Ismael into a great/mighty nation and not to fear. Years later, Allah put Abraham through another test of love and devotion, to see if he was willing to sacrifice his first and only son Ishmael, Abraham passed.

Later, Allah instructed father and son Ishmael to build the first house of worship, to raise a structure on this existing foundation known as the Kaaba in Makkah. Abraham asked Allah why here in the middle of nowhere and Allah replied build it and they will come from every part of the earth like ants for pilgrimage.

Thereafter back in the land of Palestine, there are some unconfirmed stories that Angels or Adam or Abraham and then had another son Isaac all together they built Al Aqsa. Through the lineage of Isaac’, came a whole lot of prophets and land became known for its rich religious history. People in this region faced the direction of Al Aqsa in prayer.

However back in the wilderness of Paran, after the 12 tribes of Kedar, years and generations went by, evil crept in and caused people to go astray by starting to worship idols, etc.… which took over the Kaaba in Makkah

Allah fulfilled His promise when the cornerstone (Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him came to fulfill the legacy of his great grandfather Abraham and claim the inheritance of the rejected stone (Ishmael) to lead the great nation of Islam.

The direction (qibla) to pray could not be the Kaaba at that time, as it was full of idols and the pagan Arabs would feel that Muslims were still worshipping their gods. So, the direction of prayer was to Al Aqsa during that time.

When the prophet migrated to Medina, the Jews looked at the Muslims qibla as following their faith. Been far away from the idol worshippers, their attachment to the Kaaba, so it was granted to face Makkah once again for prayers towards the Kaaba

Al Masjid Al Aqsa had a unique place in the life of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him for many reasons. Firstly, as Al Masjid Al Aqsa was central to the lives of many of his fellow Prophets peace be upon them with whom he shared an 

exceptional bond (as the Islam taught by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is a continuation, completion and perfection of the religion and message of monotheism preached by all the prophets of Allah including Prophet Adam peace be upon him.

Prophet Nuh=Noah peace be upon him, Prophet Ibrahim peace be upon him (of whom Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, was a descendant through his son Ismaeel peace be upon him, Prophet Musa=Moses’ peace be upon him, Prophet Daoud=David peace be upon him, Prophet Suleiman=Solomon peace be upon him, and Prophet Isa=Jesus peace be upon him to name a few).

Al Masjid Al Aqsa also by definition had a central place in his life and heart. In addition to this, up until the 2nd year of Hijra (623/624AD), the Prophet Muhammad (saw) turned and faced Al Masjid Al Aqsa as the direction for his prayers.

In his lifetime though, the most memorable reason why Al Masjid Al Aqsa has such significance is because it was the place to which he travelled on the night of Israa=Night journey from Makkah to Jerusalem, and it was the location from which he made his Miraaj=ascending to the Heavens.

In the books of Hadith, we learn that Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him went to visit the Ka’bah at night and fell asleep. The Angel Jibril (Gabriel) then awoke him and led him to a winged white beast named Buraq. 

It was on Buraq that the Prophet peace be upon him then made the journey to Jerusalem (a journey that would typically take 40 days) in just one momentous night.

On reaching Jerusalem, the Prophet  peace be upon him  met and led all the previous Prophets in prayer at the site of Al Masjid Al Aqsa, and then embarked on the Miraaj=ascending to the Heavens.

The journey of Israa=Night Journey from Makkah to Jerusalem was such a momentous occasion that Allah revealed verses relating to this journey in the Holy Quran –

“Glorified be He [Allah] Who did take His servant for a journey by night from Al Masjid Al Haram to Al Masjid Al Aqsa, whose precincts We did bless, in order that We might show him some of Our Signs. Verily He is the All Hearing, All Seeing” [17:1].

Allah knows Best.

Almighty Allah is the highest and most knowledgeable, and the attribution of knowledge to him is the safest.

Right from Almighty Allah and wrong from me and Satan

Prepared by Mohamad Mostafa Nassar- Australia.


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Arrogance is not only a sign of insecurity, but also a sign of immaturity. Mature and fully realised persons can get their points across, even emphatically without demeaning or intimidating others.