The Human Truth Foundation

What Direction Do You Pray to Mecca in South America?

By Vexen Crabtree 2017

#argentina #australia #christianity #islam #prayer #religion

The Qur'an is explicit when it comes to prayer in ways that the Christian Bible is not. There are definite reasons to pray: Qur'an 17:79 offers a bribe: pray often, more than is required of you, and Allah might "raise you to a position of great glory". Aside from that, the vast majority of the verses in the Qur'an about prayer are about technicalities - frequency, timings and posture. For example Qur'an 2:238-239 says that the "middle prayer" (presumably, of the 5 daily prayers) is the most important. Qur'an 5:6 reiterates typical superstitions about cleanliness and washing before prayer (more so if you've touched women recently). It seems that when God spoke to the Hebrews it was insistent upon the minute specifics of animal sacrifice, but, it revealed to the writers of the New Testament that such textual literalism was an error, and distracted from the proper relationship with God. But, hundreds of years later, God is again getting involved with the minute particulars. Despite the attempts to be clear, there are many uncertainties as to how Muslims should pray and there are many different customs. Some complications arise from basic geography: the Qur'an was written by folk who thought the world was flat, so instructions like "face Mecca when you pray" seemed simple enough. But what about Muslims in Argentina, Alaska or Australia? To pray facing Mecca means angling yourself against the floor in a very strange way. Some Alaskan Muslims pray facing north, the shortest curved line to Mecca. Others pray facing South-East, the simplistic way you'd face if you use the Mercator map projection whilst forgetting that the world is more or less spherical. The entire spectacle of reading lengthy Muslim scholarly debate on how and when to pray is a worryingly pointless use of Human time in a literalist endeavour that is largely avoided if you admit that the authors of the Qur'an didn't quite manage to be clear, and the minor details aren't really the kind of the thing the ruler of the Universe should really be caring about, given the violent and immoral state of the world at large!

"How to Pray in Islam, According to the Qur'an" by Vexen Crabtree (2011)