Worshippers at a Turkish mosque have reportedly been praying in the wrong direction for nearly forty years.
The mistake was discovered by the newly appointed imam at the mosque, which is located in Sugoren, in the west of Turkey. Isa Kaya was appointed back in 2017, and since came to notice a very important error within the structure of the building.
Those who practice the Muslim faith are advised to kneel facing the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca while praying, five times each day.
The Kaaba is a black, cube shaped building located at the Al-Masjid Al-Ḥarām; Islam’s largest mosque.
However, during the construction of this particular mosque back in 1981, the Mihrab – a semicircular niche in the wall to mark the direction of Mecca – had been incorrectly placed. As a result, worshippers had been facing the wrong way by around 33 degrees for the last 37 years.
After hearing the rumours of a potential misalignment, Mr Kaya sought the advice of local muftis, specialist legal experts who are empowered to give rulings on religious matters.
The mufti’s office proceeded to confirm how the Mihrab had indeed been put in the wrong position when the mosque was first built.
Mr Kaya has refrained from tearing down the Mihrab immediately, instead implementing a temporary measure whereby the congregation is guided by arrows of white tape on the carpet which point them in the correct direction.
An example of a Mihrab, located in the Great Mosque of Cordoba, can be seen in the following picture:
As reported by Hurriyet Daily News, who cited Demiroren News Agency, Mr Kaya said:
We have explained the situation to our congregation and most of them have reacted positively to our solution.
Mihrab of Muradiye Mosque in Edirne, Turkey. Early 15th c. Ottoman tiles. pic.twitter.com/3PvhoJLGM7
— Can (@CanBozkir) October 15, 2018
CAM LOVES blue – from the Chihuly in the lobby to this Mihrab (Prayer niche) and tons of art in between. Staff members are joining the @fccincinnati #BlueOut tomorrow in support of #FCCincy! Won't you? #CINvNSH #OurCityOurCup pic.twitter.com/2yYcZz1M9O
— CincyArtMuseum (@cincyartmuseum) October 18, 2018
According to a 2017 article in Daily Art Magazine, the Mihrab is often an ornate masterpiece:
With time, Mihrabs turned from simple apse-style concavities into highly ornamented sites -little masterpieces of Islamic art […]
The first documented semi-circular Mihrab comes from the Mosque of the Prophet at Medina. What used to be Prophet’s house, which later turned into the congregation place of his followers and thus the first mosque, was reconstructed into a proper representative construction during the caliphate of al-Walid I (705-715 AD).
However, Mihrabs might have been in use even before the revelation of the Prophet, just dedicated to different purposes. They had always been reserved for people of high importance and elevated social status, and the word Mihrab itself stood for an ‘elevated’ place, the most important place in the house.
Mihrabs can be a variety of sizes, but are usually created in the recognisable doorway shape. They are often decorated with beautiful tiles and calligraphy.
The prayer hall to the south in the Ottoman-era was doubled in width and covered with small domes equal in size except for domes covering the mihrab area, Bab al-Salam and the Prophet’s Tomb. The qibla wall was covered with glazed tiles featuring Quranic calligraphy. pic.twitter.com/m6Krflpr89
— Ottoman Records (@ottomanrecord) October 11, 2018
Going forward, an architect will be tasked with the important job of redesigning the structure, this time making sure everything is in its right and proper place.
No pressure then…
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.