Laser beams and prayers

laserbeamThe BBC has what could have been an interesting little story about Muslim prayer practices and rules. Unfortunately, it has very little doctrinal meat to it. The story is this:

Some 200 mosques in Islam's holiest city, Mecca, point the wrong way for prayers, reports from Saudi Arabia say.

All mosques have a niche showing the direction of the most sacred Islamic site, the Kaaba, an ancient cube-like building in Mecca's Grand Mosque.

But people looking down from recently built high-rises in Mecca found the niches in many older mosques were not pointing directly towards the Kaaba.

Some worshippers are said to be anxious about the validity of their prayers.

There have been suggestions that laser beams could be used to make an exact measurement.

Tawfik al-Sudairy, Islamic affairs ministry deputy secretary, downplayed the problem in remarks quoted by the pan-Arab newspaper al-Hayat.

"There are no major errors but corrections have been made for some old mosques, thanks to modern techniques," he said.

"In any case, it does not affect the prayers."

Yeah, that's the whole story. No details on why the Kaaba is the most sacred Islamic site, why mosques should have a niche pointed in that direction, whether this is a rule or suggestion, what the heck laser beams have to do with it, and whether everyone's agreed that this doesn't cause a prayer problem or it does.

But other than that, great story.

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