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Re: Qiblah towards the shrine?
Re: Qiblah towards the shrine?
The following passage indicates that only Jerusalem and Mecca have served as Qiblihs, at least since the time of Moses. It also indicates that the only purpose for the change was to test people.
And likewise, reflect upon the revealed verse concerning the "Qiblih."[The direction toward which the face must be turned when praying.] When Muhammad, the Sun of Prophethood, had fled from the dayspring of Bathá [Mecca] unto Yathrib,[Medina.] He continued to turn His face, while praying, unto Jerusalem, the holy city, until the time when the Jews began to utter unseemly words against Him — words which if mentioned would ill befit these pages and would weary the reader. Muhammad strongly resented these words. Whilst, wrapt in meditation and wonder, He was gazing toward heaven, He heard the kindly Voice of Gabriel, saying: "We behold Thee from above, turning Thy face to heaven; but We will have Thee turn to a Qiblih which shall please Thee."[Qur'án 2:144] On a subsequent day, when the Prophet, together with His companions, was offering the noontide prayer, and had already performed two of the prescribed Rik'ats,[Prostrations] the Voice of Gabriel was heard again: "Turn Thou Thy face towards the sacred Mosque."[At Mecca],[Qur'án 2:149]
In the midst of that same prayer, Muhammad suddenly turned His face away from Jerusalem and faced the Ka'bih. Whereupon, a profound dismay seized suddenly the companions of the Prophet. Their faith was shaken severely. So great was their alarm, that many of them, discontinuing their prayer, apostatized their faith. Verily, God caused not this turmoil but to test and prove His servants. Otherwise, He, the ideal King, could easily have left the Qiblih unchanged, and could have caused Jerusalem to remain the Point of Adoration unto His Dispensation, thereby withholding not from that holy city the distinction of acceptance which had been conferred upon it.
None of the many Prophets sent down, since Moses was made manifest, as Messengers of the Word of God, such as David, Jesus, and others among the more exalted Manifestations who have appeared during the intervening period between the Revelations of Moses and Muhammad, ever altered the law of the Qiblih. These Messengers of the Lord of creation have, one and all, directed their peoples to turn unto the same direction. In the eyes of God, the ideal King, all the places of the earth are one and the same, excepting that place which, in the days of His Manifestations, He doth appoint for a particular purpose. Even as He hath revealed: "The East and West are God's: therefore whichever way ye turn, there is the face of God."[Qur'án 2:115]
Notwithstanding the truth of these facts, why should the Qiblih have been changed, thus casting such dismay amongst the people, causing the companions of the Prophet to waver, and throwing so great a confusion into their midst? Yea, such things as throw consternation into the hearts of all men come to pass only that each soul may be tested by the touchstone of God, that the true may be known and distinguished from the false. Thus hath He revealed after the breach amongst the people: "We did not appoint that which Thou wouldst have to be the Qiblih, but that We might know him who followeth the Apostle from him who turneth on his heels."[Qur'án2:143] "Affrighted asses fleeing from a lion."[Qur'án 74:50]
Turning to the Shrine of Baha'u'llah is merely a "symbol of the inner act":
"He would advise you to only use the short midday Obligatory Prayer. This has no genuflections and only requires that when saying it the believer turn his face towards Akka where Bahá'u'lláh is buried. This is a physical symbol of an inner reality, just as the plant stretches out to the sunlight-- from which it receives life and growth--so we turn our hearts to the Manifestation of God, Bahá'u'lláh, when we pray; and we turn our faces, during this short prayer, to where His dust lies on this earth as a symbol of the inner act.
"Bahá'u'lláh has reduced all ritual and form to an absolute minimum in His Faith. The few forms that there are--like those associated with the two longer obligatory daily prayers, are only symbols of the inner attitude. There is a wisdom in them, and a great blessing but we cannot force ourselves to understand or feel these things; that is why He gave us also the very short and simple prayer, for those who did not feel the desire to perform the acts associated with the other two."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 24, 1949: Spiritual Foundations: Prayer, Meditation, and the Devotional Attitude, op. cit., in Lights of Guidance, no. 1523)
There is nothing inherently special in the dust of His remains, outside of having been associated with His Person:
"...There is no special physical significance in the remains of the Prophets or relics of Their Persons. But there is a profound spiritual significance in the sense that Their dust was the physical mirror of the greatness of God. In other words we know God through His Prophets, Who have bodies, these bodies--Their very dust--are precious through association. It is natural for people to be touched by a lock of hair or some token of one they loved; how much more should we treasure and feel moved by a relic of the Beloved of God."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 13, 1944: Bahá'í News, No. 210)
137 O people of the Bayan! Fear ye the Most Merciful and consider what He hath revealed in another passage. He said: "The Qiblih is indeed He Whom God will make manifest; whenever He moveth, it moveth, until He shall come to rest." Thus was it set down by the Supreme Ordainer when He desired to make mention of this Most Great Beauty. Meditate on this, O people, and be not of them that wander distraught in the wilderness of error. If ye reject Him at the bidding of your idle fancies, where then is the Qiblih to which ye will turn, O assemblage of the heedless? Ponder ye this verse, and judge equitably before God, that haply ye may glean the pearls of mysteries from the ocean that surgeth in My Name, the All-Glorious, the Most High. (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 68)
"The "Point of Adoration", that is, the point to which the worshipper should turn when offering obligatory prayer, is called the Qiblih. The concept of Qiblih has existed in previous religions. Jerusalem in the past had been fixed for this purpose. Muhammad changed the Qiblih to Mecca. The Báb's instructions in the Arabic Bayán were:
"The Qiblih is indeed He Whom God will make manifest; whenever He moveth, it moveth, until He shall come to rest.
"This passage is quoted by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (# 137) and confirmed by Him in the above-noted verse. He has also indicated that facing in the direction of the Qiblih is a "fixed requirement for the recitation of obligatory prayer" (Q and A 14 and 67). However, for other prayers and devotions the individual may face in any direction."
"Nothing has been found in the Baha'i Writings requiring the friends to stand and face the Qiblih whenever the Tablets of Visitation are recited. No issue should be made of this matter when a Holy Day observance is being held. However, when one is actually in, or within the precincts of one of the Holy Shrines, it is an act of simple reverence to stand and face that Shrine when the Tablet of Visitation is recited." (On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, 19 August 1992, athttp://bahai-library.com/uhj/holy.day.observances.htm