Fatwa of Mufti Ahmad Khanpuri on Masjids deliberately applying the Qiblah allowance
بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم
In 2008, our local Masjid in Blackburn, Masjid Sajedeen was undergoing major renovation. Previously, it was home to a cinema, and when purchased, the direction of the building was deemed suitable for Qiblah purposes. It transpired after research by my respected father Mufti Shabbir Ahmad (b. 1376/1957) via traditional and modern methods of determining the Qiblah, that the Qiblah was 151 degrees from North, and that it was actually 33 degrees deviated from the Qiblah. This was in part due to a common misunderstanding that the Qiblah from the UK is south east (135 degrees) when in reality it is 118 degrees from Blackburn. Accordingly, it was probably thought that the deviation is 16 degrees and due to the nature of the building at the time with narrow rows at the front of the Masjid, this was deemed tolerable.
Al-Ḥamdulillāh, after delivering a presentation at Masjid Sajedeen, the Masjid decided to correct the Qiblah and end the controversy once and for all. This was also reported in the media, as outlined on this link: https://islamicportal.co.uk/change-in-direction-for-mosque/. Subsequently, several other Masjids in Blackburn corrected their Qiblah, such as Masjid al-Mumineen, Masjid Tauheedul Islam and Masjid Noorul Islam. In all three Masjids, the Qiblah was approximately 45 degrees deviated.
During the change process at Masjid Sajedeen, my respected father prepared a question for some senior Muftis in the UK and abroad. They included our respected Mufti Ahmad Khanpuri (b. 1365/1946), who served as the Head Mufti at the Dabhel seminary in India for many years. The original question is available on this link. Mufti Ṣāḥib responded to the questions and also attached his previous answer to a similar question, which was posed to him by Masjid Noorul Islam, Blackburn several years before this. The original answer is also available on this link, which is also published in Maḥmūd al-Fatāwā (2:334, new edition).
Some friends have now suggested that the question and answer should be translated into English for wider benefit. The translation is thus provided here.
14 Muḥarram 1443 / 23 August 2021
[Question posed by Mufti Shabbir Ahmad]
In the name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Merciful
Respected honourable Ḥaḍrat Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Mufti Ṣāḥib madda ẓilluh al- ʿĀlī,
In our famous town of Blackburn in Britain, a cinema building was purchased for a Masjid and Madrasah. At that time, it was commonly understood that Qiblah in Britain is south east, 135 degrees from north. The direction of the building in terms of its length is 151 degrees from north, and it was decided after the purchase that there was no need to adopt the precise Qiblah due to the small difference. Thus, as the difference was [assumed to be] 16 degrees, the Qiblah was fixed with this deviation of 16 degrees south, in line with the direction of the building.
A few years ago, two rooms were constructed to the left side, so that there is no shortage of space for Muṣallīs during Jumuʿah and Eid Ṣalāhs.
Over the past 2-3 years, some renovation work began throughout the main prayer hall, and the blocks on the right and left side of the narrow front rows were removed. The Masjid is now nearly square. As the work of the Masjid was ongoing, some mosques in Preston and a mosque in Blackburn corrected its Qiblah to the actual Kaʿbah (ʿAyn al-Kaʿbah), and it transpired to some colleagues in a meeting in relation to the construction of a new Masjid that the Qiblah direction being south east at 135 degrees is only approximate, otherwise the correct Qiblah is in reality 118.43 degrees. The astronomers have also mentioned this and Mufti Rashīd Aḥmad Ludyānwī has also mentioned this in Aḥsan al-Fatāwā. The satellite system also shows ʿAyn Kaʿbah (actual Kaʿbah) to be on this degree. Subsequently, this was also affirmed via the solar method on 27 May and 16 July, a Qiblah identification method mentioned by Mufti Rashid Ahmad Ludyanwi in Aḥsan al-Fatāwā. On these dates, the method was also tested in the local town’s Tablīghī Markaz and this affirmed the same. An expert was also invited whose outcome corresponded with this, and the Qiblah compass also shows this direction.
Thereafter, prior to the completion of the works, a meeting was held in relation to the carpet. The issue of the Qiblah was touched upon incidentally because the carpet design would reflect the Qiblah. At the meeting, it was decided that the old carpets should be laid out immediately 21 degrees deviated from the ʿAyn Qiblah (actual Qiblah). They were thus laid out accordingly and Ṣalāh has continued in this manner.
Then after some time, Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Ḥadrat Muftī (Aḥmad Khanpurī) Ṣāḥib came and the situation was presented to him. Ḥaḍrat advised that the Qiblah direction should be corrected to the actual Qiblah. Nevertheless, there is still a lot of anxiety among the people.
Now, the question is that which option should be chosen:
Option 1 – ʿAyn Qiblah (actual Qiblah)
Option 2 – 21 degrees deviated from the actual Qiblah
Option 3 – 33 degrees deviated from the actual Qiblah
In the first option, the first row will remain long in the general Ṣalāh. However, in Jumuʿah and Eid Ṣalāhs, the front rows will be not be as long because the rows will not be parallel with the building. In addition, it will not be possible to use the front part of the new room on the left for Ṣafs [in congregational Ṣalāh]. Nevertheless, even without this space, there is sufficient space even for Jumuʿah and Eid Ṣalāhs. In addition to the Masjid and the neighbouring rooms, there is a big hall downstairs. Therefore, there is no question of shortage of space in the near future.
In addition, some scholars are of the view that a person who is able to face the actual Qiblah (ʿAyn al-Qiblah) must face it, such as Imam Shāfiʿī, Ḥaḍrat Imam Bukhārī, Ḥaḍrat Imam Ṭaḥāwī, ʿAllāmah Sharīf Jurjānī and others. Although most worshippers in the Masjid are Ḥanafī, there are some Shāfiʿīs and others who attend Ṣalāh and their numbers are increasing. Likewise, when Tablīgh Jamāʿats come from abroad, sometimes there are Arabs among them.
In relation to the second option of 21 degrees deviation from the actual Qiblah, there is no issue of the length of the front rows at all. However, it does impact on the beauty of the Masjid. In addition, it is less than 24 degrees deviation, which Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī Ṣāḥib has deemed the more cautious opinion in relation to the validity of the Ṣalāh.
In relation to the third option of 33 degrees deviation from the actual Qiblah, the rows will be parallel with the structure of the building, and will therefore be better for adornment.
Ḥaḍrat is requested to answer the following questions:
(1) Which option should be chosen from these three? Some people are inclined to the first option so that the issue does not ever re-emerge in the future, and the Ṣalāh becomes valid according to all the Imams. Some people prefer the second option because that is the practice at the moment, and some prefer the third option because Ṣalāh was performed in that direction for many years.
(2) The Ṣalāhs that have been performed to date, 33 degrees deviant from the actual Kaʿbah, is it necessary to repeat them?
(3) Ḥaḍrat Mufti Muḥammad Shafīʿ, may Allah have mercy on him) has written two views in Jawāhir al-Fiqh: 24 degrees being the more cautious view and 45 degrees being the more flexible view. Can this serve as evidence for deliberately deviating from the Qiblah in the Masjids when the actual Qiblah is known, considering that Ḥaḍrat Mufti Maḥmūd Ṣāḥib has explicitly mentioned in Fatāwā Maḥmūdiyyah (5:530) that no deviation should take place deliberately?
[Response by Mufti Aḥmad Khānpūrī Ṣāḥib]
In the name of Allah Almighty
Respected, beloved and honourable Mawlānā Mufti Shabbir Ahmad zīdat makārimukum,
Assalām ʿalaykum wa Raḥmat Allah wa Barkātuh,
I received your fax. Many years ago, a question was received from your town, Blackburn. The answer that was given at that time is being sent to you with the question, which will address all of your queries. Nevertheless, the questions which you have posed in your fax are answered in order:
(1) Choose option 1.
(2) There is no need to repeat those Ṣalāhs.
(3) The answer to this is in the attached copy.
And Allah Almighty knows best.
Dictated by Ahmad Khanpuri, on 20 Muḥarram al-Ḥarām, 1429 Hijrī.[Mufti Aḥmad Ṣāḥib attached with this the question and answer he referred to, which is also published in Maḥmūd al-Fatāwā (2:334) as mentioned above].
[Question from Masjid Noorul Islam, Blackburn]
Question: The issue of the Qiblah is a contentious matter here in Britain. A few years ago, we purchased a factory with the intention of converting it into a Masjid, as is the norm here. To determine the Qiblah, we invited our Imam Mawlānā Ismāʿīl Wādī, Mawlānā Yūsuf Motālā, the rector and ḥadīth lecturer of Darul Uloom Bury, and Mawlānā Hāshim Jowgwārī Ṣāḥib. After looking at the place, they said that the direction of the Qiblah is not totally accurate, rather it is 35 percent (degrees) deviant [Tr. Note: this is based on the south east assumption, otherwise it was approximately 45 degrees] but this is tolerable according to the Fatwā of Mufti ʿAbd al-Raḥīm Ṣāḥib Lājpūrī, may Allah have mercy on him. Thus, acting on this Fatwa, a Miḥrāb was made and Ṣalāh began.
However, since some time, when some Muṣallīs perform congregational Ṣalāh, they face the Miḥrāb, but when they stand up for the Sunnah and Nafl prayers, they stand slightly deviated (35 percent) from the Miḥrāb. So, is it correct for them to perform Sunnah and Nafl Ṣalāh in this manner or not? As this practice is increasing among the Muṣallīs, there is a real risk of turmoil, and it is therefore hoped from your respected self to fully clarify this issue.
[Mufti Aḥmad Khānpūrī’s answer]
There are two separate issues here which are intermingled, and this causes complications.
The first issue is if a person performs Ṣalāh not facing the Qiblah, how much deviation is excused, and how much deviation invalidates the Ṣalāh? In relation to this, our scholars have generally excused up to 45 degrees and deemed anything beyond this as invalidating the Ṣalāh (see Fatāwā Darul Uloom, Imdād al-Muftiyīn, Karachi ed. 2:416; Imdād al-Fatāwā, 1:217; Aḥsan al-Fatāwā, 2:313).
Some elders have, based on caution, only excused deviation up to 24 degrees and deemed anything beyond this as invalidating the Ṣalāh. Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Yūsuf Ludyānwī says, “If the deviation is slight, the Ṣalāh is valid. If it is 25 degrees or more, the Ṣalāh will not be valid.” (Āp key Masāil awr un kā Ḥal, 2:189). Ḥadrat Thānawī, may Allah have mercy on him, has also deemed this to be the cautious view (Imdād al-Muftiyīn, Karachi ed. 2:427).
The second issue is when a specific place in the form of a Masjid or prayer hall is being established, what should the establishers do? So, the ruling for this is that “The establishers of the Masjid are required, in so far as possible, to determine the correct direction of the Qiblah and apply this in the Masjid” (Kifāyat al-Muftī, 3:141).
Ḥaḍrat Thānawī, may Allah have mercy on him, says, “To deliberately deviate the Masjid (from the actual Qiblah) has more problems than just the aforementioned problem of labelling it incorrect, for example, division among Muslims, lengthening the tongues of objectors, the laymen daring to surpass the boundaries, and undermining the limits, and more, and therefore it is against the Maṣlahah (public interest). A similar example is what was mentioned that astronomy is not considered for historic Masjids although it can be considered in the desert. The space reducing is less harmful compared to these problems.” (Imdād al-Fatāwā, Deoband ed., 1:219).
Ḥaḍrat Mufti Kifāyat Allah Ṣāḥib, may Allah’s mercy be upon him, writes, “Despite knowing, to deliberately ignore the deviation of 9-10 degrees and performing Ṣalāh in the wrong direction will create doubts and insinuations in the hearts of the Muslims and reduce the value of facing the Qiblah. Therefore, the correct direction should be marked in the Masjid and Ṣalāh performed accordingly. Yes, it is correct that the Ṣalāhs already performed do not need to be repeated” (Kifāyat al-Muftī, 3:137).
Ḥaḍrat Aqdas Faqīh al-Ummah Mawlāna Mufti Maḥmūd Ḥasan Ṣāḥib, may Allah’s mercy be upon him, was asked about a Masjid where the deviation was 18 degrees and it was facing a similar challenge to the one you mentioned in the question. Ḥaḍrat replied in his answer, “From the three options you have written, performing Ṣalāh according to the second diagram is correct without a doubt, even if the rows are not parallel to the building, as the direction will be correct, because the crookedness/slant is because of the configuration of the room, not because of the direction of the Qiblah. There is therefore no harm with this option. The first and third diagrams will make the rows parallel, not slanted, but the Qiblah direction will not be correct. Although the deviation is not to the level that the general direction [Jihat] of the Qiblah does not remain and thereby invalidate the Ṣalāh, nevertheless this deviation should not be done deliberately, it should be abstained from.” (Fatāwā Maḥmūdiyyah, 12:259).
When you constructed your Miḥrāb, you did not consider the aforementioned guidance and caution, and now that its consequences are appearing, you are becoming anxious, and accusing those who are performing their individual Ṣalāh towards the correct direction of inciting turmoil. How much of this attitude of yours is based on fairness, only you should mention that, especially when your Masjid’s deviation is 35 degrees, which according to Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Muḥammad Yūsuf Ludyānwī’s Fatwa means that the Ṣalāh is not valid.
Therefore, you should be concerned about making the Ṣalāh of the people valid according to all the scholars by correcting the direction of the rows towards the Qiblah. And you should sever the root of the Fitnah (turmoil) before the door of the Fitnah opens and creates division among Muslims.
And Allah Almighty knows best
Written by the servant Aḥmad Khānpūrī, may he be forgiven