28 January 2010
Mosques Facing the Wrong Way -- Indonesia
The Ministry of Religion has done a survey of Mosques in Indonesia and has determined that at least 20% of them are getting worshipers to face in the wrong direction. Muslims are required to face Mecca when they pray no matter where on the globe (or presumably in the galaxy) they are.
It seems that the majority of the Mosques that are in error are also located in areas that have frequently suffered earthquakes. Nevertheless, the Ministry has suggested that rather than wholesale renovations, or the tearing down of Mosques, that the responsible parties make the necessary corrections by informing worshipers that they need to face in a slightly different direction in order to be facing Mecca.
The Ministry survey team relied on the use of GPS devices to plot the exact location of Mecca relevant to each Mosque.
This "oops" moment follows close on the heels of a statement from Mutoha Arkanuddin, an Islamic scholar, who claimed that as many as 80% of Indonesian mosques and graves (for Muslims) were not facing in the 'right' direction.
I am not a Muslim, so I really do not know how big a deal this is in the big scheme of things. But, I would imagine that if you were the family member of a Muslim whose grave was facing in the wrong direction, the you are like to be a little concerned about what this means for your deceased loved one.
I wonder if there is going to be widespread exhuming and repositioning of loved ones with the use of GPS?