The direction toward which Muslims are supposed to pray. The qibla is toward the Ka’aba shrine in Mecca, and regardless of where they are in the world, Muslims should pray facing in that direction in order for their daily prayers to be fully true. Each mosque contains a niche, known as a mihrab, that indicates the proper qibla, while in the modern world creative solutions such as taped arrows placed in windowless hotel rooms perform the same The Islamic holy book, the Qu’ran, with the left page in English and the right page in Arabic. © JAMES MARSHALL/CORBIS function. Originally the prophet Muhammad proclaimed that qibla was to be toward Jerusalem, probably influenced in this by the strong Jewish traditions in place in Medina. He later changed it to Mecca. Qibla is important not only for prayers; Muslim dead are buried facing Mecca while devout Muslims eat the meat of animals slaughtered according to halal practices, one feature of which is that the animals must be facing Mecca when killed.

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