The Islamic Garden
The direction of Prayer
There is a certain place in a remote part of the world that bears huge significance for us all. Like so many other things in life, the important elements are often overlooked while we chase after the transient glitter that this world offers.
When I first became a Muslim and started to pray, I learned that I should face towards Mecca. When I stood about to pray, I would imagine the millions of Muslims around the world in so many different places and situations, all praying in Arabic and facing towards the same place. Each one of us praising their Maker and humbly asking for their needs. What a beautiful unification, free of competitiveness and nationalism! People whose native tongue may be anything from Chinese to Spanish, all pray in Arabic, reciting Qu’ran in Arabic and facing towards the Holy House in Mecca.
I would think about the Muslims throughout the world, a brotherhood and sisterhood based on obedience to Allah s.w.t the Creator and Maintainer of all, and sometimes I would cry when I remembered how many suffer under oppression, injustice and ignorance. Then I’d start to think about my responsibility to help, and question myself about what I was doing with my life, my time and my effort.
Mecca is the place that is mentioned in the Qu’ran and the Bible, where Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) took his wife Hajar and their son Ishmael. It is a blessed place. Abraham (peace be upon him), acting under the order of Allah s.w.t., left his wife and child there with nothing but a small amount of food and water. Tears wet his face as he left them and he prayed and asked Allah s.w.t. to protect and open the way for them. This was a test of their trust in Allah s.w.t. It also serves as a lesson for us. When the food ran out and Hajar ran desperately between the two hills called Safa and Marwa, looking for any sign of help; she never despaired of Allah’s help. When she returned to check on her son, she found a well springing from beneath the ground, which is called ‘Zam Zam’. This water was the means of saving them as well as making this place develop into a town. Originally it was called Bacca but later it was renamed Mecca.
When Ishmael grew up, he and his father re-built the Ka’ba (The Holy House in Mecca) and dedicated it to the worship of Allah s.w.t. It stands as a symbol of the unity of God and His message to mankind since Prophet Adam (peace be upon him). A symbol of the message that each prophet brought with them, calling mankind to the worship of the One True God and to establish piety. Beginning with Prophet Adam (peace be upon him), to prophet Moses, Abraham, Noah, Jesus and finally Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon them all.) There have been thousands of prophets sent to humanity since the beginning of time, some are mentioned in the Holy book, but all stand as a piece in the mosaic of revelation.
It is towards this direction that Muslims pray until today and will continue to do so.
Having one direction is significant because Islam provides the knowledge of One God, one way of life, a unification of the spirit and intention. The Muslims become as one body, feeling the pain the others feel and sharing in the recovery.