How does a man who is in a place where he does not know the direction of the qibla determine it, and perform prayers? Does a person who finds out about the qibla after he finishes his prayer need to perform that prayer again?

The Details of the Question
How does a man who is in a place where he does not know the direction of the qibla determine it, and perform prayers? Does a person who finds out about the qibla after he finishes his prayer need to perform that prayer again?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

According to fiqh scholars, the direction of the qibla for those who inhabit out of Mecca is the direction of the Kaaba. That is the sound view. Yet, how is the direction of the Kaaba is determined?

a) It is the direction of the altars (mihrabs) of the mosques and the doors of the minarets of mosques in cities and towns.

b) In a district that is far away from mosques, it is necessary to ask local people.

c) If a man has a compass with him and knows how to take into account the magnetic variation, he can determine the qibla direction with it.

Regarding those in the Sea or Desert:

a) If there is a compass with them, they can determine the qibla with it.

b) If there is not a compass with them and if it is a sunny day, they determine the qibla according to the sun by taking into consideration whether they are in the northern or southern hemisphere. At night, they try to determine according to stars.

c) If none of these is possible, they perform prayer by determining the qibla according to their opinions (ijtihad).

Regarding those who are on an animal or in a vehicle:

It is not an obligation for a man who cannot get down from the animal or get out of the vehicle due to an excuse to perform prayers by facing the qibla direction. He performs prayer by turning to a direction that is suitable for him.

When he cannot find anyone to ask the qibla, he tries to determine it making interpretation/ijtihad. When he finishes the prayer and becomes aware that he has faced another direction, he does not have to perform the prayer again. Yet, if he becomes aware of this situation in prayer, he should turn to the qibla direction without abandoning the prayer.

If a person performs a prayer turning to a direction based on his own opinion without asking anyone although there is someone who knows the qibla direction with him is informed about the qibla or becomes aware that he has faced a wrong direction, he has to perform the prayer again. In such situations, one should not begin prayer without asking anyone.

When a man performs a prayer without doubting the qibla in a wasteland and he doubts afterwards, his prayer is valid until he becomes certainly aware that he faced a wrong direction. If he becomes aware that he faced to wrong direction in prayer, he should perform the prayer again according to some fiqh scholars. Yet, if he becomes sure that it is the right direction, he completes the prayer.

If he is doubtful about the qibla direction but begins performing a prayer without searching (the qibla direction) and becomes aware that he has faced the wrong direction in the prayer, he has to stop the prayer and perform it again.  If he becomes aware that he faced the wrong direction after the prayer, it is wajib to perform that prayer again. If he becomes aware that he faced the right direction, he does not need to perform it again.

(İslam Fıkhı, Celal Yıldırım)

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