The significance and methods of determination of Kibla, the Holy Islamic direction

  • Zalkida Hadžibegović, dr.


Kibla is a Holy direction in Islam, a direction towards a Holy place, direction to which believers turn their faces and pray toward its center, Kaba, which is in Mecca. Importance of the Kibla is based on the Holy Book, Qur’an. Methods to determine the Kibla are based on astronomic phenomenon and with application of scientific method of astronomy, mathematical geography and mathematical knowledge specifically the area of trigonometry. The history and the development of the method of determining the Kibla, began in the VIII century using techniques of measurement of geographic coordinates from a certain place on the Earth and the application of mathematics and astronomy according to knowledge which was acquired through Islamic astronomy, geography and mathematics on indian- greeco sources. Well known Arab-Islamic scientist like al-Khwarizmi, al- Battani, al-Biruni, Ibn Yunus and others, developed scientific methods of determining the Kibla in the first period of the golden, middle-age period in the development of Islamic thought and science, from VIII to XI century. New ideas, equipments, and procedures of determining the Kibla were developed by astronomers in XIII century in the well-known school of astronomy in Maraghi, where Nasir al-Din al-Tusi worked. Kibla be- come a very important dilemma which, well known astronomers from the well known group in Damaskus in the XIV century, among them was al-Khalili, which like, al-Biruni, composed table for Kibla for each degrees of geographical latitude, from 10 to 56 and from geographical lon- gitude, from 10 to 60 degrees according to exact expression received according to theory of sphere trigonometry.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the coming of the Ottomans and the spread of Islam, come numerous activities regarding the solving of astronomy-related problems. Among them were the problem of determining the Kibla, the time for five daily prayers, as well as the Islamic calendar. Until today, a lot of manuscripts regarding astronomy and the methods of determining the Kibla as well as the instruments used, have been preserved.

A vast number of these manuscripts are kept today at the Gazi Husrev- bey Library in Sarajevo. They were written in different oriental letters using the Arabic alphabet. Among those manuscripts, a large number of texts are related to practical astronomy, and were written by Arab/Islamic astronomers between the XIII and the XV centuries.

Copies of the mentioned works were distributed to educational institutions throughout the Ottoman empire in the period between the XVI and the XX century, some of them ended up in the Bosnian region as well. Texts regarding to applied methods of determining the Kibla, as well as the instruments used, were studied and used by Bosnian astronomers.

It can be concluded, that the problem of determining the Kibla, the holy epicenter for the Muslims, is a problem of applied astronomy, which can be solved using scientific methods. Today, this problem can be solved using coordinate tables available on the internet or with the use of the compass. Hence, it is possible to obtain accurate coordinates of the Kibla, from anywhere on Earth.

How to Cite
Hadžibegović, Z. (2005). The significance and methods of determination of Kibla, the Holy Islamic direction. Anali Gazi Husrev-Begove Biblioteke, 13(23-24), 267-280. Retrieved from