The word Kabah literally means an elevation, a height and the Qiblah means a direction, the direction of the face. The Kabah is the Qiblah of the earth and Allah has established it at the centre of the earth, at Mecca. In the beginning of the creation of planet Earth, there was only water on the earth’s surface. “His Throne was on water.” (11: 7). Then Allah Ta’ala established the first section of the earth on the exact spot of the Kabah. And from there, Allah Ta’ala spread the earth everywhere in the world. (Akhbaar Makkah). The Kabah being the navel of the earth, Allah Ta’ala has made it sacred by establishing there the first mosque (masjid) built in the history of the earth. (3: 96)
Surrounded by worldly activities, man is called upon to established prayer in order to remember his Lord. “Perform salah in order to remember Me.” (20: 14). But Allah Ta’ala is not limited by dimension, as opposed to man, who is limited by both dimension and direction. However, man needed a direction to pray.
Since Islam advocates a spirituality of altruism in order to bring together people of all colours from all climes, Allah Ta’ala has chosen for us the Kabah as direction for prayer, where there is the first mosque (masjid). Mind you! Prostrating before the Qiblah does not mean worshipping the Kabah, but it means prostrating before the Lord in the direction dictated by Him.
However, the Qiblah is a precondition for prayer (salah) everywhere, even on board an aeroplane. One must try to determine its direction prior to performing salah. Therefore, we must seek our bearings in our surroundings. In the daytime, sunset enables us easily to find the west so that the Qiblah is situated in the north-north-west (for Mauritius)
At night, the Southern Cross helps us situate the south and thus find the north. If we travel in the northern hemisphere, we shall take the North Star as a pointer. If these bearings become difficult to establish, then we can simply seek guidance from people around us in order to ascertain the directions of north and south or sunset in order to find the west. Then, from the geographical position where we are, we just have to turn ourselves facing Mecca. For example, in India, people have to face the direction of sunset, i.e. the west. However if someone does not know the direction of Qiblah or he is all alone, then he should face the direction which his heart prompts him to face. It should be noted that the approximate direction of the Qiblah is what is important and not the exact position. The prophet of Allah (saw) has allowed variations in respect of the Qiblah at Madinah. “The Qiblah is to be found between East and West.” (Mustadrak). That is the reason why there is an allowance of around 45 degrees at Mecca when calculating the direction of Qiblah. It should be borne in mind that it is prohibited to sit in the direction of the Qiblah when using the toilet or even to turn our backside in its direction if we are naked. (Bukhari). It is also prohibited to spit in the direction of the Qiblah. (Bukhari). Learned people deem it reprehensible for people to lie down with feet extended towards the Qiblah.
In short, the Qiblah is the geometrical centre of spirituality.