Al-Aqsa was the first qiblah (the direction in which a Muslim turns to pray) in Islam, but this direction was later changed to Holy Kaba in Mecca.
Muslim worshippers at about 200 old mosques in Mecca have been praying in the wrong direction for decades because the mosques were not built correctly, a Saudi newspaper said on Sunday.
The mosques were not built precisely based on the qibla, the official alignment with the holy Kaaba shrine at the centre of Mecca’s Al-Haram mosque, according to the report in Arab News.
Hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world are bound to orient their daily prayers toward the ancient Kaaba, and mosques everywhere are built to face the black-shrouded cubic building, or have indicators of its direction.
The discrepancy was only realised after looking at the old mosques, some built more than 50 years ago, from atop the new skyscrapers being constructed in Islam’s holiest city in western Saudi Arabia, the report said.
According to the pan-Arab Al-Hayat newspaper, Islamic affairs ministry deputy secretary, Tawfik al-Sudairy, downplayed the problem.
“There are no major errors, but corrections have been made for some old mosques, thanks to modern techniques. In any case, it does not affect the prayers,” the newspaper quoted Sudairy as saying in its Saturday edition.