The New International Encyclopædia/Kiblah
KIBLAH, kē'blä, or KEBLAH (Ar. Kiblah, that which is opposite, from kabala, to come from the south). The direction of the Kaaba (q.v.), in Mecca, toward which Mohammedans face when in prayer. It is indicated in a mosque by a niche in the wall called the miḥrab. At the outset of his career Mohammed is said to have turned toward the Kaaba when praying; though this is contrary to Sura ii. 110: “The cast and the west is God's; therefore, whichever way ye turn is the face of God.” After his flight to Medina, the Prophet changed the direction of prayer toward Jerusalem in the hope of attracting the Jews. On January 16, 624, recognizing the futility of this hope, he changed the kiblah back again to the Kaaba, justifying this momentous change by a special revelation (Sura ii. 136-145). Consult Sprenger, Das Leben und die Lehre des Mohammed, vol. iii. (Berlin, 1869).