The Change of Qiblah
When Allah first ordered the Holy Prophet (S) and all Muslims to offer the daily Salat, they were required to pray facing Baytul Muqaddas (Jerusalem). This was the practice in Makkah and continued in Madinah until the seventeenth month after Hijrat.

In Madinah, the Jews also said their prayers facing Baytul Muqaddas. They did not like the fact that the Muslims had the same Qiblah as they did, and tried to use this fact to discredit Islam and the Holy Prophet (S). They said to the Muslims, "Muhammad claims to have a religion whose laws supersede all other previous laws, yet he does not have an independent Qiblah, and offers his prayers facing the Qiblah of the Jews."

After the Holy Prophet (S) received this news he used to come out at night and look into the sky awaiting the revelation from Allah about this matter. The following verse was revealed at this time:
"Many a time We have seen you turn your face towards heaven. We will make you turn towards a Qiblah that will please you..."      Surah al-Baqarah, 2:144
The fact that the Qiblah was the same as that of the Jews was also because it was a test of the faith of the people. The true faith of the followers would be tested by seeing if any of them refused or delayed to turn towards the new Qiblah as chosen by Allah. This is confirmed in the Holy Qur'an in the following verse:
"We decreed your former Qiblah only so that We may know the Prophet's true followers and those who were to deny him. It was indeed a hard test, but not for those whom Allah guided..."      Surah al-Baqarah, 2:143
One day, while the Holy Prophet (S) and the Muslims were praying together, the command came from Allah to change the Qiblah from Baytul Muqaddas to the Holy Ka'ba in Makkah. After the Holy Prophet (S) had already completed two raka'ats of the noon prayer, the Angel Jibraeel (A) communicated to him the command of Allah.

He held the hand of the Holy Prophet (S) and turned him towards the Holy Ka'aba in Masjidul Haraam in Makkah. The Holy Prophet (S) at once changed his direction in the middle of Salat. Imam Ali (A) followed this change immediately. The other Muslims were confused by this action and only a few followed the example of Imam Ali (A).

The mosque where this happened is known as "Masjide Dhul Qiblatain" which means "The Mosque with the Two Qiblahs". This mosque still exists in Madinah today.

With modern instruments and science we can pinpoint the exact location of Madinah to be at latitude 24 degrees and longitude 39 degrees. This makes the Qiblah 45 degrees south of Madinah.

The Holy Prophet (S) turned towards the new Qiblah without hesitation. The old and new Qiblahs can still be seen today in Masjide Dhul Qiblatain. It was one of the Holy Prophet's (S) miracles that he turned exactly to face the Holy Ka'ba without the use of any scientific instrument or computation.

The Holy Ka'ba which serves as the Qiblah for all Muslims today has always been respected by the Arabs, even before the Holy Prophet (S). It was for this reason that this new Qiblah served to attract more Arabs towards Islam.