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Finding the direction of Qibla using traditional and modern ways

In this article we will be discussing some traditional and modern ways to Find the Direction of Qibla for Prayer.


The Qibla has great importance in the daily lives of Muslims. Qibla is the direction towards Ka’bah (situated in Makkah, Saudi Arabia) towards which Muslims pray five times a day. In the Quran Allah (SWT) says:

Verily! We have seen the turning of your (Muhammad’s SAW) face towards the heaven. Surely, We shall turn you to a Qibla (prayer direction) that shall please you, so turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid- Al-Harâm (at Makah). And wheresoever’s you people are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction. Certainly, the people who were given the Scriptures (i.e. Jews and the Christians) know well that, (your turning towards the direction of the Ka’bah in Makkah in prayers) is the truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do.

In the past locating Qibla was a very difficult task to do in unfamiliar land, but nowadays technology has made it very easy, now we have many more options to do this task easier and quicker.

The Concept for locating Qibla

At first one has to clear his location to Baitu-llah or Khana Ka’bah. It’s a common thought that Muslims pray  towards east but its not true. Muslims are ordered to pray facing Ka’bah, so where ever a Muslim resides from Ka’bah he or she has to pray facing towards Ka’bah. If Muslims are living in Japan they have to pray towards west or northwest, where as in America Muslims pray towards northeast. 


Amazingly, while on a map Makkah appears to be southwest of the U.S., still in most of the United States Muslims pray towards northeast! Can you guess why? Of course, this is because the Earth is spherical and Muslims in the U.S. discovered that the distance to Makkah measured from northeast is actually shorter than the distance measured from southeast.  Thus, northeast is the correct direction to pray!

Methods for locating Qibla

Using the Sun


The sun rises in the east and sets in the west across the globe. If we know some basic things then we can easily find our prayer directions.

For example, if you know that Makah is north of your country and the Sun sets to your exact left, then you are already facing the Qibla.  On the other hand if the sun is setting on your right, then you need to be facing the opposite direction.

Twice a year, you can use the Sun to determine the precise location of the Qibla. The sun is overhead or right above the Ka’bah at two times of a year. These times are:

•    May 28 at 9:18 UT
•    July 16 at 9:27 UT

On these dates, at these exact times (converted to your local time) when you face the sun you will also be facing the Ka’bah, thus giving you the direction to your Qibla.

Although this option cannot be used on a daily basis, it is still a tried and tested method for locating the direction of the Ka’bah.

Make a sundial


  • Wherever you are, get to level ground and place a vertical object, approximately 3 feet in length, on the ground just before noon
  • Mark the place on the ground at the tip of the shadow
  • Now make a circle which has a radius that is equal to the length of the shadow
  • As the day progresses, the shadow will get shorter moving away from the circle. Eventually the shadow will start getting longer in a different direction and finally will touch the circle again.
  • Make another point at this intersection of the circle and the shadow.
  • Now draw a line between the two marks you made.
  • The direction is west to east. The first point is west and the second east.
  • Draw a line which is perpendicular to this line. The line you just drew is the north-south line.
  • Now keeping in mind where you are in the world you will able to get a rough idea of where the Qibla is.


Use a Watch


An analog watch with hours and minutes hands can help you find directions too!

  • If you are in the northern hemisphere, then hold your watch horizontally such that the hour hand points to the sun.
  • The point which is midway between the hour hand and 12-marker on the watch is south. Once you know where south is you can easily determine the other directions.
  • If you are in the southern hemisphere you will need to hold the watch horizontally such that the twelve o’clock mark points towards the sun.
  • The direction that is right in the middle of the 12 marker and the hour hand will be north. You can then easily determine the other directions.
  • Now keeping in mind where you are in the world you will able to get a rough idea of where the Qibla is


Using a compass

The Compass is the easiest way to determine your directions. It’s really easy finding Qibla by Compass.

Software Apps and Internet

Nowadays we can easily find Qibla by using Mobile Apps. We can also enter our location and by the click of a button we can locate Qibla. We can easily download apps onto our smartphones that point to the exact Direction of Qibla. Some regular mobile phones also come with built-in applications for locating the Direction of Qibla.

About Waleed Ahmed