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Muslims were praying in wrong direction

world Updated: Jul 21, 2010 01:28 IST

Indonesian Muslims have been praying in the wrong direction for months, facing Somalia when they should have been facing Saudi Arabia, the country’s highest religious authority said.

A cleric from the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) admitted the body made a mistake last March when calculating where Muslims should turn to when praying. He said new instructions had now been issued and that people only had to shift their position for the correct alignment.

According to Islamic tradition, Muhammad was born in Mecca, and it is said to be the place where Allah’s message was first revealed to him.

The error did not mean their prayers would be ignored, Ma’ruf Amin from the MUI said. “God understands that humans make mistakes. Allah always hears their prayers.”

The MUI website advises Muslims to make use of a website, Qibla Locator, to locate Mecca without a compass.