In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. I wish to highlight this very important issue in Islam which is either neglected or little effort is made to fulfill the conditions of prayers in Islam. . In a survey just conducted I can authoritatively say that over forty percent of Mosques in the Western area of Freetown are not turning towards the Qibla whilst praying and a good number of Muslim worshippers do not meet the conditions of Salat which includes facing the direction of the Ka’aba for Prayers.
Prayer is one of the central elements of Islamic practice and worship. Indeed, it is the second of the five Pillars of Islam and, along with the testimony of faith, the pilgrimage to Mecca, fasting the month of Ramadan and paying the poor tax, forms the essential framework of the religious life for Muslims. More than that, the observance of the ritual prayer forms the framework of each Muslim’s day, from the pre-dawn morning prayer to the night prayer that precedes sleep.
The Qibla is an Arabic word which means direction. It is the direction that a Muslim should face when he prays during Salah. It is fixed as the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca. Most Mosque contain a wall niche, known as mihrab, which indicates the Qiblah and also a temporary praying room contain a mihrab, although usually less standardized in appearance than one would find within a mosque. Praying towards the same point is traditionally considered to symbolize the unity of all Muslims worldwide.
According to the traditional Muslim view, the Qiblah originally face the noble sanctuary in Jerusalem. This Qiblah was used for over 13 years, from 610 CE until 623 CE. Seventeen months after the Prophet Muhammad's (SAW) arrived in Medina , the Qiblah became oriented towards the Ka’aba in Mecca. According to traditional accounts from the Holy Prophet’s (SAW) companions, the change happened very suddenly during noon prayer in Medina, in a mosque now known as Masjid al Qiblatain (Mosque of two Qiblahs). When the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was leading prayers he received revelations from Allah instructing him to take the Ka’aba as the Qiblah (literally, "Turn then Thy face in the direction of the sacred Mosque :"). According to the traditional accounts contained in the Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), who had been facing Jerusalem, upon receiving this revelation, immediately turned around to face Mecca, and those praying behind him also did so.
The Holy Quran in Sura Bagara 2: 149-150 (Sahih International) reads “So from wherever you go out [for prayer, O Muhammad (SAW)] turn your face toward al- Masjid al-Haram, and indeed, it is the truth from your Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what you do. And from wherever you go out [for prayer], turn your face toward al-Masjid al-Haram. And wherever you [believers] may be, turn your faces toward it in order that the people will not have any argument against you, except for those of them who commit wrong; so fear them not but fear Me. And [it is] so I may complete My favor upon you and that you may be guided.
In one hadith From Anas (R.A) which is recorded in Sahih Muslim (1075) says: The Messenger of Allah (May peace be upon him) used to pray towards Bait-ul-Maqdis, that it was revealed (to him):" Indeed We see the turning of the face to heaven, wherefore We shall assuredly cause thee to turn towards Qibla which shall please thee. So turn thy face towards the sacred Mosque (Ka’aba)" (ii. 144). A person from Banu Salama was going; (he found the people) in ruk'u (while) praying the dawn prayer and they had said one rak'ah. He said in a loud voice: Listen! The Qibla has been changed and they turned towards (the new) Qibla (Ka’aba) in that very state.
It should be noted that Muslims do not worship the Ka'aba. The Ka'aba is a capital and focal point in Islamic unity. According to Islamic finder and Qibla locator websites on www.islamicfinder,org and www.qiblalocator.com the position of the Qibla is position to Latitude 8.49 Longitude -13.2342 Direction 69.47° N Distance 5856 km for Sierra Leone.
The proof for this practice is found in the Holy Quran and it is just reiterated by the author so that attention will be given to this very important Issue as some people, If you correct them they will be very adamant thinking that they have been praying on that direction for ages and to turn another direction might mean all their prayers before are null and void forgetting about the abundance mercies of Allah.
I pray that all will come on board to pay attention to the Qibla and every Mosque, place of worship and home will have an indication of a mihrab. One can even use the local compass and place it on a level ground and allow the red lead arrow to point to 310 degree, repeat the process for two or three times and please do it for Allah and not for anyone turn to the right Qibla .