Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science

By Roshdi Rashed; Regis Morelon | Go to book overview

4

Astronomy and Islamic society: Qibla, gnomonics and timekeeping

DAVID A. KING


(a) Qibla: The sacred direction

INTRODUCTION

In the Qur’ān. Muslims are enjoined to face the sacred precincts in Mecca during their prayers. The relevant verse (2.144) translates: ‘turn your face towards the Sacred Mosque; wherever you may be, turn your face towards it…’. The physical focus of Muslim worship is actually the Ka‛ba, the cube-shaped edifice in the heart of Mecca. This formerly pagan shrine of uncertain historical origin became the physical focus of the new religion of Islam, a pointer to the presence of God.

Thus Muslims face the Ka‛ba in their prayers, and their mosques are oriented towards the Ka‛ba. The miḥrāb, or prayer-niche, in the mosque indicates the qibla, or local direction of Mecca. In medieval times the dead were buried on their sides facing the qibla; nowadays burial is in the direction of the qibla. Islamic tradition further prescribes that a person performing certain acts, such as the recitation of the Qur’ān, announcing the call to prayer, and the ritual slaughter of animals for food, should stand in the direction of the qibla. On the other hand, bodily functions should be performed perpendicular to the qibla. Thus in their daily lives Muslims have been spiritually and physically oriented with respect to the Ka‛ba and the holy city of Mecca for close to fourteen centuries.

Muslim astronomers devised methods to compute the qibla for any locality from the available geographical data, treating the determination of the qibla as a problem of mathematical geography, as the Muslim authorities do nowadays. However, mathematical methods were not available to

-128-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 330

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.