I am very aware that this is a deep question and I am really not an expert in Islam or Muslims, though I have tried to do my research. I know that Islam is the second-largest religion, I don't see why this wouldn't be part of my story in one form or another and should also be respectfully represented.

The history of the story is that the Earth gets destroyed and there is a surviving population of 19 million of that that settles on a new home-world. It'll be a clash of cultures and religions for a time, some would die out, some would survive on. Religion would also be a strong factor for cultures as a means of finding stability in their faith in that time and for generations after.

I've done some research on Muslims who have been a part of space missions to get a perspective of how religion (and their acts of worship) would advance when touching into the space-faring era which has given me some insight but then I realized that in Islam's rituals, such as Qibla; their direction of prayer (salah). They pray towards the Kaaba in Mecca all over the earth.

But if the earth was destroyed (and what's left a molten shard), I don't know how Islam or Muslims would adapt some of their rituals to ensure that their culture and faith is kept alive for future generations. To where the question would come in.

How would Muslims adapt to follow their prayer rituals in such a traumatic loss?

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    $\begingroup$ Does this answer your question: A mosque on Mars?. See also "How could a Muslim pray from the Moon?" on the Islam StackExchange. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jan 12, 2021 at 16:20
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexP I'm...not quite sure because in those questions, despite being on different planets, the whole earth and Mecca is still there which makes salah and finding qibla normal for that change of era. This earth and mecca are gone, which feels like there's a change on context. I will, however, read them of course, to help keep myself educated on my options. $\endgroup$
    – SKKennell
    Jan 12, 2021 at 16:41
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    $\begingroup$ Attention all readers, this question involves religious matter in the real world so kindly refrain from disinformation and misinformation. My interpretation is the prayer is meant for the god not a location but who am I to debate. $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Jan 12, 2021 at 17:05
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    $\begingroup$ Islam is usually pragmatic about practical issues. It is only obligatory to pray facing Mecca if you can discover its direction, and if it is physically possible to do so. (In fact astrolabes were used by early travelers to find the correct direction anywhere on earth). There are already commercial aircraft which include a masjid with an automatic "electronic qibla" so there is no technical problem here. The similar question of how to observe Ramadan if you are within the Arctic or Antarctic Circle and there is no astronomical "sunrise and sunset" also has an accepted pragmatic solution. $\endgroup$
    – alephzero
    Jan 13, 2021 at 1:48
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    $\begingroup$ The muslim religion tends to be a bit more practical with matters like this. Do what you can, and what you cannot do despite best effort, you are not blamed for. With the Earth slagged, they would still be able to determine prayer orientation, but they would accept that the Hajj is no longer practical, and would not fault the believers for failing to perform it. $\endgroup$
    – PcMan
    Jan 13, 2021 at 8:35

14 Answers 14


As salam alaykum! I think it's wonderful that there would be a portrayal of Islam in sci-fi. I'm not a shiek by any means, but given the tenor of the answers I think I'm the only Muslim to actually reply.

As others have pointed out, Muslims in prayer face towards the Kabah, which is kept in the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca. (As a side note, it's also polite/more correct to face the Kabah when reciting the Holy Quran.) I would guess that, should the Earth come under assault by aliens, the Kabah would NOT be removed from Mecca. To do so would likely be considered blasphemous, in that it would imply that Allah (SWT) would somehow allow the Kabah to be desecrated or destroyed by aliens if man did not interfere. (After all, the Kabah was never removed when other Infidels invaded/assaulted Mecca) At the very least the Salafists (a rather strict interpretation of Islam and more-or-less the state religion of Saudi Arabia, where Mecca is) would view the removal of the Kabah in that manner.

If the earth indeed was destroyed, I believe Muslims in other solar systems would still pray towards Sol (as that is where the Kabah would be). The Kabah would most certainly not be destroyed, even if the earth was! As the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) decreed a Muslim must pray towards the Kabah, and the Kabah was still around the Sun, that makes good sense. As to the Hajj, I believe it would likely remain, but prove less important. After all, gathering enough money for a trip to Mecca is something many Muslims can accomplish. Gathering enough money for a trip to another star... not so much. However I would make one exception to that rule. If any members of the Bani Shaiba tribe survived, they would likely view it as their sacred duty to recover the Kabah from the debris of earth. The Bani Shaiba hold the keys to the Kaaba, and it is that tribe's duty to clean and maintain the Kabah. So naturally if any survived they would view it as duty to reclaim the Kabah from the debris field. If they succeeded they would take it to whatever the holiest off-world site for Muslims was, and erect a a new Bayt Allah il Haram (the sacred house of Allah, where the Kabah is held) at that location. Other wealthy/powerful Muslim leaders may also attempt to recover the Kabah as well. (As devout Muslims they would never believe it was actually destroyed.)

Another interesting side-note would be that unscrupulous individuals may claim to have "found" the Kabah in the ruins of earth and set up their own shrines. This of course would be wildly blasphemous. So instead of Sunni and Shiite you might have Terran and Alpha Centari Muslims, where Alpha Centauri's believe the Kabah was recovered and moved there, while Terran Muslims believe the Kabah is still unrecovered in the debris field of earth. The relationship between the two sects would be.... problematic. Anyway I hope that helps!

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    $\begingroup$ "the Kabah would NOT be removed from Mecca" I don't see the logic of this. Surely it is the Kabah that imbues Mecca with holiness not the other way around (?). If the Kabah moves, why does its sacredness not move with it? Conversely, if it is found in orbit, shouldn't it be left there? Even for practical reasons it makes more sense. It's harder to land on and take off from a planet than to rendezvous with an orbiting object. $\endgroup$ Jan 13, 2021 at 16:22
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    $\begingroup$ "The Kabah would most certainly not be destroyed, even if the earth was!" -- Very interesting. Can I ask what the reasoning is for this? $\endgroup$ Jan 13, 2021 at 16:45
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    $\begingroup$ @DanielR.Collins - I'm not a muslim so I can only speculate, but from what I read here I gather that the Kabah is so sacred and central to the religion that God would simply not allow for its destruction. If he did then... the implication would be that he is abandoning the whole faith and its followers and... basically all of humankind. And that's not something that God does. $\endgroup$
    – Vilx-
    Jan 13, 2021 at 17:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Vilx: Even though the history is that it's been damaged and rebuilt several times? Link. "The Black Stone and the Maqam Ibrahim are believed by Muslims to be the only remnant of the original structure made by Abraham as the remaining structure had to be demolished and rebuilt several times over history for its maintenance." But I think only DarioQuint can answer what they meant, and whether they think the history given there is true or false. $\endgroup$ Jan 13, 2021 at 20:07
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    $\begingroup$ This is awesome, because basically the search for the lost Kabah would become the modern search for the Holy Grail, in a different religion! $\endgroup$
    – o0'.
    Jan 14, 2021 at 17:57

The simplest solution would be to apply the existing fatwa of 2007, which was a response to Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor's flight on the ISS. The practical problem is that although the direction of the Kaaba relative to the ISS is (obviously) accurately known, the direction many be changing too fast to obey the traditional directions for prayer.

Several Muslims had flown to space before Sheikh Muszaphar, but none of them had publicly raised the issue of the direction of prayer.

The fatwa provided four options in order of priority:

  1. Towards the Kaaba itself
  2. Towards the position directly above the Kaaba at the altitude of the astronaut's orbit
  3. Towards the Earth in general
  4. Towards "wherever."

Clearly option 4 is always applicable!

The document detailing both the direction of the Qibla and several other Islamic guidelines on the ISS can be found here: Guideline For Performing Islamic Rites At The International Space Station (ISS) (pdf).

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    $\begingroup$ I think that if you included a link to a copy of the fatwa in question, this might well be the definitive answer to the question since it would include a link to a religious text discussing the issue at hand for the religion in question. $\endgroup$
    – nick012000
    Jan 13, 2021 at 8:21
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    $\begingroup$ I found the source: islam.gov.my/images/garis-panduan/… $\endgroup$
    – KeizerHarm
    Jan 13, 2021 at 10:14
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    $\begingroup$ If only earth is destroyed, but not Sun, a new priority towards our solar system could be a good compromise between Earth and wherever $\endgroup$
    – Kepotx
    Jan 13, 2021 at 11:34
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    $\begingroup$ @Kepotx The current priority list is based on the person's ability, rather than the the target suddenly ceasing to exist. It's unclear whether someone who is able to pray in the direction where the Kaaba would have been would still need to orient themselves. $\endgroup$
    – Flater
    Jan 13, 2021 at 12:06
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    $\begingroup$ Similarly they have found a way to deal with the 5 times per day prayer rule, considering that a "day" on the ISS is only 90 minutes long - they just use whatever time zone they launched from. Presumably if a Muslim settled on Mars or some other planet, they would come up with some means of reconciling however long that planet's day was to make it work. $\endgroup$ Jan 13, 2021 at 18:36

N.B. I was debating whether to add an answer to this but I disagreed with the (now previously-accepted) answer that stated the Malaysian fatwa would be used, and wanted to give a more detailed reason why from the perspective of Islamic law.

Looking back on this, I realise it's a bit of an information dump with no real references, but unfortunately it's the result of dumping my short lifetime's worth of lived experience and knowledge onto the page. You probably won't like my answer much, because like anything that's evolved over 1400 years, the truth is a lot less neat, a lot more complicated and way too dry for a "just-for-fun" site like this, in which case I apologise.

My credentials: I identify as Muslim, was raised in an orthodox Muslim household, I've read the whole Qur'an more times than I can count and memorised two-thirds of it, and I like to think I have a decent understanding of how Islam works/how Muslims think.


I'll be answering this question from the Sunni Muslim point of view. Sunnis are one of the two primary strands of Islamic belief, and make up around 85% of Muslims worldwide, with Shi'a Islam making up most of the rest. Between them, they cover ~95% of the Muslim population.

I disagree with the now previously-accepted answer on the basis that the referenced fatwa was given for a Malaysian astronaut from the scholarly instruments of the Malaysian government. The problem with this is that the Malaysian government's fatwas - and this is true of most Muslim countries and their populations - only really hold weight for Malaysians. Most Muslims won't have even heard of it, let alone follow it.

Prominent fatwas in Sunni Islam tend to come from a handful of different places, and which ones you pay attention to tends to be influenced by the maddhab (school of thought) you follow.

There are 4 primary schools of thought which all recognise the validity of each other - Hanafi, Shafi'i, Maliki, Hanbali - with Salafism being the newer reformist strand that rejects the concept of schools of thought entirely (in other words, considers them all invalid).

Saudi Arabia's founding of and heavy influence on Salafism means that by and large, Salafis tend to pay close attention to fatwas from Saudi Arabia and its government. In this sense, Salafism can be considered almost like Catholicism, having one centralised place where most religious edicts come from. The other 4 maddhabs are a lot less so.

If Sunni Muslims make up around 85% of Muslims worldwide, followers of the 4 maddhabs make up at least 80% of Sunni Muslims, and very much the majority - this is something not many realise with the disproportionate reach that Salafism has. Most Muslims today are not Arab, and certainly not Salafi.

Culture and ethnicity

When it comes to which fatwa-publishing institution those of the four maddhabs pay attention to the most, the truth is that it tends to be heavily influenced by your own culture and ethnic makeup. This is because despite Sunni Islam considering all of the maddhabs valid, and it being possible for a Muslim to change the maddhab they follow, by and large most Muslims do not, and the maddhabs continue to be divided along geographical lines like they have for hundreds of years. In other words, where you come from in the world tends to influence how you practice your religion the most.

Thanks to Egypt's own huge cultural influence (think TV, movies and music) on the rest of the Middle East, Egypt's own Grand Mufti has a lot of reach throughout the (non-Salafi, Shafi'i) Arab world, although less than the fatwas of Al-Azhar University, which is far older and far more revered than the Egyptian government (sometimes their fatwas even clash).

If your background is Pakistani like me, there's a good chance you belong to the Deobandi or Barelwi movements, both diametrically opposed to each other yet adhering to the Hanafi school of thought, and that your fatwas come from that respective movement's scholars in the Indian Subcontinent. As far as I know the Pakistani government seems to be unique in that it doesn't have dedicated instrumentation for issuing fatwas, as this is the role that the Deobandi movement tends to take. Most fatwas coming out of Pakistan (and India and Bangladesh) come from the Deobandis, and here in the UK, the vast majority of Islamic religious schools are Deobandi-founded and run.

A local approach

Then it gets more complicated still: for the significant diaspora population of Muslims who live in non-Muslim countries like the UK and the US, fatwas from their countries of origin are often considered irrelevant. For many of them, rather than paying attention to the "official" fatwas of their countries or schools of thought - they tend to look closer to home for a more nuanced approach.

This is possible because Islam is flexible enough in its jurisprudence (known as fiqh) that a fatwa can be given by any scholar who has studied Islamic jurisprudence (known as a mufti). Typically a mufti is the most senior role that an Islamic scholar can study for, and usually involves at least 4-5 years of study in an institution like Al-Azhar or a Darul Uloom.

This approach even tends to be recommended by many prominent Muslim institutions of the four maddhabs, such as Al-Azhar, because it solves a fundamental problem of applying foreign fatwas to an environment outside of that which the Mufti deriving them intended. This is something many Muslim scholars - including those in Muslim countries, warn against - because fatwas should take into mind the principle of 'urf.

'Urf is the cultural context in which a fatwa is derived for, and is considered to be a key factor when devising a nuanced, informed fatwa, because culture influences a great deal. For example, Islam commands modesty (particularly for women, it has to be said) but what exactly constitutes modesty in one culture is not necessarily the same as in another, and a mufti who was born and raised locally has much more understanding of this than one imported from abroad. In this way, orthodox Islam contains a framework for flexibility, to a degree.

This means that outside of Muslim countries, many diaspora Muslims will prefer the opinions of a scholar local to them who they trust (often that scholar doesn't even need to be a mufti, because most day-to-day problems faced by Muslims don't require devising new fatwas and so can be heard by a "lesser" scholar, known as a moulana).

Thankfully, this is the age of the internet, and each major school of thought and movement has hundreds of sites - many of which are run by or employ muftis - dedicated to allowing lay Muslims to ask questions and request fatwas that will allow them to navigate their life circumstances while adhering to their faith.

Here's a Salafi one based out of Syria, a Hanafi-Deobandi one based in the UK, and a US-based one that covers all four maddhabs.

Finally, no matter what your madhhab is and what ethnicity you are, if you're part of a Sufi order, you almost definitely defer to the beliefs of your shaykh (spiritual guide).

Actually answering the question

Bringing this information dump back around in an attempt to actually answer your question, you could probably break it down into something like this if you wanted to over-simplify (and you really have to for something as diverse and complicated as beliefs):

1) If your Muslim character lives in a Muslim country: they will tend to follow the fatwas published by their government's fatwa-publishing instrumentation, or the closest thing to it like Al-Azhar in Egypt, or the Deobandi movement in Pakistan

2) If your Muslim character was raised in a non-Muslim country like the UK or the US: they will tend to seek out a trusted local scholar who's qualified to derive fatwas from religious texts (a mufti)

3) If your Muslim character is an adherent to a Sufi order: they will almost definitely tend to follow the beliefs of their shaykh (spiritual guide)

In answer to the question of how the Muslim Ummah (global Muslim community) as a whole would react, each smaller community would react in their own ways along theological lines.

The most rabidly conservative might deny the destruction in the first place, calling it propaganda and misinformation. The vast majority would probably believe it, and would follow the direction of the scholars they trust in how to continue praying. The scholars would probably agree that praying in the general direction of where Earth used to be is the next best thing, and therefore the closest to Islamic teachings.

It's possible that some may vow to enact vengeance on whoever was responsible, but this is unlikely given that it wasn't a targeted attack and that the Ka'bah was just another casualty of the destruction of Earth. What I think is more likely is that they would mark that dark day in memory and have it become a day of mourning on which to pray extra prayers and make extra supplications, just like many Muslims do to commemorate the slaying of many of the Prophet Muhammad's immediate descendants during the tragic massacre of Karbala.

Something else that others don't seem to have touched on is that the destruction of the Earth and the Ka'bah are key parts of Islamic eschatology, so many Muslims may choose to see these cataclysmic events as evidence that the Day of Judgement will happen any day now.

Yet others might realise that both the Ka'bah and the Earth have been obliterated, and yet life appears to go on with no sign of the Trumpet or the second coming of 'Eesa (Jesus) or Resurrection Day itself.

It could be argued that the premature destruction of the Earth and the Ka'bah directly contradict Islamic texts and scholarly exegesis of them.

For example, the Qur'an states:

The Day when the Earth will be changed into a different Earth, and the heavens as well, and all will appear before Allah— the One, the Supreme.

(Qur'an 14:48)

Arguably, the changing of the Earth into a different Earth would be prevented by the Earth's very destruction.


"And when the trumpet is blown with a single blast, and the earth and the mountains are removed from their places, and crushed with a single crushing, then on that Day shall the (Great) Event befall” .

(Quran 69:13-15)

As a result of these apparent contradictions, these Muslims may cease to be Muslims altogether, or at least have their faith shaken as a result.

All of these would be entirely plausible and interesting avenues to explore for a post-Earth ummah.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site Prometheus. Very informative, and the answer bit at the end was great. Personally I don't mind the length, other's mileage may vary. (From review). $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2021 at 1:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Tantalus'touch. I'm glad you like it, I actually just added a bit more to that section because I thought of something else. This answer took me a few hours, far longer than I intended when starting it, but it was an interesting series of thought experiments, and made me think. $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2021 at 1:53
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    $\begingroup$ @snr Once again, you seem to be taking this question as a direct challenge to your imaan/faith - it's not, so stop treating it like one. This site is about inventing worlds for fictional stories. This question is not about Qiyamah, it's about the fictional destruction of the Earth and the Ka'bah without Qiyamah happening. If your imaan is so weak that you can't entertain some hypothetical fiction without feeling insecure about it, then you should either work on that or stop reading this site entirely. $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2021 at 5:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Prometheus yes, my iman is too weak sorry. Thanks you for the remembrance. I m struggling with it to make it stronger. $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2021 at 5:26
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    $\begingroup$ A well put answer $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2021 at 17:48

Depending on the size of the Earth-Shattering Kaboom, they would likely orient to face The location of Earth/Sol. The more interesting question is how they will complete Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). I am aware that Islam does allow for followers to not follow certain tenets if they are dangerous or physically impossible (For the Hajj, if you are unable to financially make the journey, it is not an offense if you never go... I would imagine someone would point out that Mecca is currently not a place most can visit. Halal Dietary practices are not required if not eating something would likely mean death.).

In essences, Islam does allow for exceptions in extreme circumstances.

Not a Muslim so don't take my answer as an absolute source. I did a lot of research for a Star Trek Role play character who was a practicing Muslim Starfleet officer and looked at some of the things that I should be concerned about (for example, I had him be rather ignorant on Klingon culture because Star Fleet would try their best not to put him on assignments where Klingons were likely to be allies due to the staple food of Targ (an alien pig) most definitely not being Halal.).

  • $\begingroup$ how they will complete Hajj ((: Do you think we need to worship at that time? But I like your interrogator style. You can glance at my answer. worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/a/193961/81924 $\endgroup$ Jan 14, 2021 at 12:06
  • $\begingroup$ @snr: You'll forgive me, Not sure on the interrogator style or what that means. As to the question of worship in the future, I'm under the idea that religion could evlove to new forms but it's not something that we will ever evolve out of. I can deep dive into the matter in a question for another day. $\endgroup$
    – hszmv
    Jan 14, 2021 at 13:43
  • $\begingroup$ EstağfURULLAH. What I mean by saying interrogator is you question and ponder what can be happened at that time. There will no need to worship at that time. You can again glance at first verses of worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/a/193961/81924 $\endgroup$ Jan 14, 2021 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ In the last parenthesized phrase, is there a "not" missing? $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2021 at 1:26

Not a Muslim, but I will try to give an answer based on the history of other religions.

Take Judaism. While the Temple was standing, they used to carry out their rituals there. Once the temple was destroyed, they adapted their rituals where possible or simply did not conduct them any more.

Something similar can happen in your case: considering that once in space Saudi Arabia or Australia are practically in the same direction, they could do their daily prayers looking toward the place where Earth's remains are. The duty of the holy pilgrimage instead would likely be abandoned for evident impossibility to complete it.

Unless... if there was a certain notice period before the destruction of Earth, it's plausible that some holy places and objects would be moved and reallocated as soon as possible. In that case the rituals would be adapted to the new location.

  • $\begingroup$ There is about 2 weeks notice before the destruction to get things moving, but hoax rumours could also factor delays in the removal of cultural and religious artefacts but I have kept that as something to consider but I'm not sure how well the idea of moving the Kaaba or any Islamic artefacts would be taken with Muslim readers. $\endgroup$
    – SKKennell
    Jan 12, 2021 at 16:11
  • $\begingroup$ @SKKennell: Moving the Kaaba wouldn't be an "idea"; it would be an "action" carried out by the Saudi government, who currently control the Kaaba. They wouldn't need the world's buy-in, just some local riot control police. It only now occurs to me to look up what's going on due to COVID — very similar situation! $\endgroup$ Jan 14, 2021 at 16:00
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    $\begingroup$ @SKKennell You shouldn't worry about offending Muslims with the way you're going. Muslims as a whole generally only get offended by things deliberately engineered to offend, such as in the case of the Danish cartoons. When it comes to cases like this, most ordinary Muslims will just be glad that you took the time to represent them accurately as possible, because as things are that's a high enough bar even in industries like Hollywood. I also guarantee you that the type of uber-conservative Muslims to get offended at minutiae like this are not the type to read scifi, or even many books at all. $\endgroup$ Jan 16, 2021 at 21:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Quuxplusone The pandemic and its effect on 2020 Hajj unsettled a lot of Muslims, not least those pictures of an empty Masjid Al-Haram, because it's such a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence (if I remember correctly I think the last time it was cancelled was a few hundred years ago), but eventually Muslims accepted it well enough. Humans generally are pretty good at adapting. To its credit I think Saudi got a good grip on the situation and is expecting to go ahead as scheduled with Hajj this summer. Also, thank you for the bounty! $\endgroup$ Jan 16, 2021 at 21:12

First you must realize that religions are amazingly adaptive and "eternal truth" can be - and has been many times - changed. This is true for all religions.

Most often, a simple and practical solution wins out over complex theology.

The two most simple solutions that come to my mind are:

a) pray towards where Earth used to be. The Kaaba may not exist in physical form anymore, but it doesn't have to be. The actual essence (or whatever) is still there, and one day Allah will put it back together again or something.

b) build a new Kaaba on your new home planet. Hand-wave it by a story of how some legendary hero (who conveniently died since, so he can't dispute the story) actually saved the centre piece (that rock or meteor thing) and brought it to the new home, guarding it from heretics and unbelievers, and sharing the secret only with his closest friends blabla. One amazing story and a bit of masonry later - tada! new Kaaba.

If any of those or any other idea seem hard to believe - keep in mind that Islam, like most religions, is choke full of things much harder to believe and they don't seem to be a problem to the believers.

Really. Make up whatever serves your story. No way will you be able to come up with something as outlandish or unlikely than half of what's already in the holy books.


I'm also not a Muslim, so take this answer with a huge grain of salt...

It seems to me that this is not a question of religious legalisms, so much as a question of the political structure of Islam (and how that structure might change following the destruction of Earth). As you know, there are already multiple branches of Islam, with their own distinct religious practices, leaders, and "chains of command." So you shouldn't expect all Muslims to adapt in the same way. (In fact it seems that the four Sunni schools already have somewhat different takes on what to do when the qibla is unknown!)

Any arbitrary rule you can invent, will be invented by some religious leader or other. Pick a set of religious leaders, assign them each a rule, and propagate downward through their flocks (and sideways to their ecumenical peers, if any). Think about what happens at the boundaries: which groups have the political power to override, compromise with, or influence their neighbors' systems?

The pre-existing beliefs of your factions will inform how the rules are initially assigned. I'm not qualified to make up examples (and frankly neither are you! Consult an expert, or at least a couple of Muslims). Some factions will justify their decision based on (arguably shaky application of) hadith; some by analogy with pre-destruction rulings; and so on.

There is a famous passage in Surah Al-Baqarah circa 2:142, relating to that time Muhammad changed the qibla from "toward Jerusalem" to "toward Mecca."

The block-headed will say: “What has turned them away from the direction they formerly observed in Prayer?” Say: “To Allah belong the East and the West; He guides whomsoever He wills onto a Straight Way.”

And it is thus that We appointed you to be the community of the middle way so that you might be witnesses to all mankind and the Messenger might be a witness to you. We appointed the direction which you formerly observed so that We might distinguish those who follow the Messenger from those who turn on their heels. For it was indeed burdensome except for those whom Allah guided. [...]

(three translations, one with commentary)

In that case, the rationale seems to have been "God told me what the new qibla should be, so just do it; if you don't do it then you're not a Muslim anymore." This tactic works only because the Prophet himself did it — it was divine revelation. It doesn't work to justify a post-destruction qibla shift, because revelation isn't happening anymore.

...Or is it? Maybe during or shortly after the destruction of Earth, someone gets a revelation — a Jesus, a Joseph Smith, a Báb — maybe claims to be the Mahdi or maybe claims to be something else entirely. Anyway, someone (or -ones) will certainly get to use the line "God said pray toward the North Pole so just do it or you're not a true Muslim." I don't think that kind of revelation would be compatible with any mainstream branch of Islam, the way it would be compatible with e.g. Mormonism. (See continuous revelation.)

Private religious practice can operate by different rules than public religious practice. It's conceivable to me that at least some households will simply continue praying in the direction of the broom closet, because that was what they did on Earth, and why should they change just because the Earth got destroyed? Familiarity is reassuring.

Side note: All Abrahamic religions are concerned in some degree with the direction of prayer, and would have to come up with some new conventions and symbolisms. For example, maybe Roman Catholic space churches are oriented with the altar toward the sun, in continuity with the old eastern orientation; whereas South-Celestial Baptist space churches are oriented with the sun at the exit, because they want (pick one or more) to imitate the Jewish Temple, to reject the appearance of pagan sun-worship, and/or to stick it to the Catholics.

The huge takeaways here are:

  • Don't assume all Muslims act the same.

  • Don't assume that religious behaviors always have legalistic justifications. Usually it's "because this is what my dad did," or "this is what my imam says" — political, interpersonal justifications.

  • Avoid the uncanny valley. The surest way to piss someone off is to get their religion slightly wrong. Go big or go home.


I am by no means an expert, but it seems to me that the Muslims will still pray towards the Kaaba, or perhaps toward the Earth itself. Perhaps they will consider origins to be sacred, and consider the molten shard left of the Earth as symbolic of a new beginning. Or perhaps they'll consider the molten shard sacred because it contains the legacy of the Muslims that went before them; their belongings, their sacred texts, and the Kabba itself.

This practice would be seen as giving homage to their religious origins, to the foundation laid by Muslim Earthlings. It'd be similar to the reverence some Christians have for those who translated the Bible into English at such terrible costs (see https://www.csmonitor.com/2001/0726/p21s1.html), but even more intense.


The Kaaba was saved.


Circling the Kaaba seven times counterclockwise... is an obligatory rite for the completion of the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages. The area around the Kaaba on which pilgrims circumambulate is called the Mataaf... the Kaaba was thought to be at the center of the world, with the Gate of Heaven directly above it. The Kaaba marked the location where the sacred world intersected with the profane...

There was time to rescue important artifacts before Earth perished, and the Kaaba was one. It was set up in its own vessel to orbit the center of the Milky Way galaxy, which is a strong radio source and so easy to locate from anywhere in the Universe.

center https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galactic_Center

Sketpics might argue there was not time to save the Kaaba, or that it is too heavy, or any number of things that please them to argue about because they are skeptics. But the fact of the matter is that with adequate resources, one can still make a pilgrimage to the Kaaba at its new site at the center of the universe. If it is not the exact structure that was in Mecca, no-one who has made the pilgrimage has seen fit to point that out.

  • $\begingroup$ Isn't this just dodging the question? OP asked how the destruction of Earth would affect Muslim religious practices, not for ways that Muslim religious pratices could be carried on with as little alteratiom as possible if Earth is destroyed. $\endgroup$ Jan 12, 2021 at 17:38
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    $\begingroup$ If someone asks how a downed tree affects user2352714's commute, and the answer is that user2352714 goes one block further so as to not take the blocked street, have I dodged the question? A sensible answer is that you change your commute as little as possible to account for the new circumstances. Answer does not need to be that user2352714 takes motocross bike roaring across all lawns and yards on the way for new commute (though I would upvote that answer). All that said, relocating a holy monument is not exactly a little alteration! $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Jan 12, 2021 at 18:13
  • $\begingroup$ The centre of a single galaxy is most assuredly not easily locatable throughout the known universe? Unless you meant to imply that the religious connotation 'changed' it the centre of the universe? But that would theoretical/religious faith based logic, which for the record I don't dismiss, BUT (and I hate this word), How would that then be 'easily' measured/locatable by scientific gravitational-type/radio-type sensors? $\endgroup$ Jan 13, 2021 at 0:37
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    $\begingroup$ Fabulous answer! As a Muslim, thank you really that point of view. +1 $\endgroup$ Jan 14, 2021 at 10:57
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    $\begingroup$ @Quuxplusone As mentioned by others in other comments, in Islam the obligation of Pilgrimage (Hajj) is lifted (i.e. no longer applicable) if one does not have the means to complete it. $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2021 at 17:44

To begin with, maybe the reader of the answer is meticulous about that, I'm a conscious Muslim.

Even the accepted answer points to a "idea(fatwa) from a seikh" which may really change your religion and ideas brutally in a wrong manner. I even believe that most of the upvotes of the accepted recently answer are from Muslims.

The ridiculous part is here that even a Muslim cannot answer that question. I really worry about that how they dream of Jerusalem - Al-Aqsa Mosque while even they cannot answer the question pertaining to Kaaba. Anyway. Let's pinpoint the question.

As happened to all the Abrahamic religions(Islam, Christianity, and Judaism), we have a noble book which is Quran in which there are verses forming our daily life to be more worthy of ALLAH(s.w.t.) who is actually the God(s.w.t.) of all the Abrahamic religions.

In Quran, there are verses that

Verses from Al-Qiyameh

But when sight is confounded, And the moon is buried in darkness, And the sun and moon are joined together, That Day will Man say: "Where is the refuge?", Alas! No refuge!, Unto thy Lord is the recourse that day. On that day man is told the tale of that which he hath sent before and left behind. Oh, but man is a telling witness against himself, although he tender his excuses.

Verses from At-Takwir

When the sun is overthrown, And when the stars fall, And when the hills are moved, And when the camels big with young are abandoned .....

Verse from Al-Infitar

When the Sky is cleft asunder

Verse from Yunus

It is He Who giveth life and who taketh it, and to Him shall ye all be brought back.

Since I'm a Muslim and I've read most of parts of Quran, I can say that I've never run into a word or meaning of "annihilation". There are some translations by using similar words, but if you read that book, you heed that all created things will be brought back to ALLAH(s.w.t.). We can say and understand of "extinguishing from Earth".

So, that day, the Earth will be likely transformed. The universe will be in the state of out of standard. So, you cannot just stay in another part of Universe and watch what's going on. Think of Prophet Noah and his community. Did they succeed being alive? Moreover, that day will be the beginning steps of the Judgement time which means there is no need to pray/perform religious obligation/task anymore because the time is to judge, what you have done so far , did you believe or not, abide by or not.

Verse from Sad

This it is that ye are promised for the Day of Reckoning.

For more information, you can follow and read the verses I link and precious, rare and breathtaking idea - fourth source .

As a side note, I'm really fascinated by Willk's answer. I still wonder that what will be happened to Kaaba in the hereafter due to being brought back to ALLAH(s.w.t.)

  • $\begingroup$ You don't have to answer, but I'm curious where you would place yourself on this chart. I'm also curious about your idea that (paraphrasing) "if the end of the world is verifiably imminent, then daily prayer [salat] is no longer a necessary [farḍ] duty"; does this idea come from your imam, from you yourself, from God directly, or otherwise? (And does it apply to the other Pillars? If the imminent end of the world became apparent during Ramadan, would Muslims also be justified in abandoning their fast?) $\endgroup$ Jan 14, 2021 at 15:40
  • $\begingroup$ This really doesn't answer the question. The question is asking about the hypothetical destruction of the Earth and the Ka'bah, not the End of Times. $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2021 at 3:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Prometheus (: if the Earth destryoed... anyway $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2021 at 5:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Prometheus this looks like a valid frame challenge. The question asked how Muslims would pray if the Earth was destroyed. This answer says that according to Islam, if the Earth has been destroyed then the time of Judgement is at hand, which means that the obligation to pray has ended (and presumably Allah would tell Muslims what they are to do next, if anything). $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2021 at 10:55
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    $\begingroup$ @anaximander As another practicing Muslim, if the Day of Judgement has come, then the universe will cease to exist as we know it, and no more 'free will as we know it' will exist, as we'll be lined up by God and questioned, then make our way to Heaven or otherwise. No more spacefaring until one reaches Heaven. $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2021 at 17:42

Well the correct answer is probably "that depends on the person". Like most things in religion, if there is space for discussion and altering points of view then some people will use those points of view.

Currently they try to pray towards Mecca, not caring if they are on the other end of the world and would have to actually have to be facing down praying through the planet itself. They'll pray across the world facing the closest direction to Mecca.

If the world is destroyed I would assume something similar applies. There would likely be two streams of faith: one prays towards the location the earth would have had if it hadnt been destroyed, another would pray towards a particular piece of earth that is still in existance. For example they could claim a piece floating in space used to be Mecca, or they pray towards the largest piece. As a last alternative that likely wouldnt be as popular they could buy pieces of holy Earth ground and use that as focal point for their prayer. Basically their prayer kit would simply be expanded with a container with the piece of Earth inside, or the piece could be the focal point of an entire planet and their local Mecca.

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    $\begingroup$ @snr you assume that the only option for a destroyed earth is that Allah has chosen to end it all and the end days have come. Yet that is not the question. It will depend on the person and what they believe happened. While some will follow your idea and assume that Allah has taken the earth, the lack of any further end-days events would cause rifts. Would you really stop praying if the rest of the end-day events havent arrived yet? Shouldnt a good Muslim keep his faith until the last day has truly ended? $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Jan 14, 2021 at 13:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Demigan re "as if the earth is flat": In my answer I linked to "Jurisprudence of Qibla" (Mohamed Nabeel Tarabishy, 2014) which starting on p. 4 takes the Quran's phrase "turn towards the direction of the sacred mosque" to show that the simpler phrase "turn towards the sacred mosque" would have been insufficient and thus (A) the great-circle method is justified Quranically and (B) the non-flatness of Earth is revealed. In short, I think your phrases "not caring ... as if the earth is flat" are over-harsh. But I like the next para a lot! $\endgroup$ Jan 14, 2021 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Quuxplusone That was the gist of my answer. Do you have a suggestion how I should re-write that part to make it more fitting? $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Jan 14, 2021 at 20:17
  • $\begingroup$ idk. I might emphasize that they pray in some "direction" according to relatively formal rules (e.g. along a great-circle path). It's not "not caring"; it's explicitly "caring." It's just that the traditional qibla is designed to be convenient for human anatomy on flat ground. That actually affects your third para — what does it even mean to pray toward some point in the heavens (Old Earth)? Do you have to build an adjustable ramp so you can kneel and face upward at the same time? The "prayer kit" solution seems quite attractive (and creative). $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2021 at 1:35

(I'm taking a go at this from a 'classic' sci fi angle)

I would guess to a certain extent, it depends on how earth was destroyed.

In the dune universe - one of the refrains you would hear from the fremen, who followed a hybrid religion with some aspects of islamic culture ofen called out "THEY HAVE DENIED US THE HAJ" in the novels. If earth was destroyed by a hostile force, one possible reaction is rage and a desire for vengeance for it.

Historically most faiths have been more sanguine about it. But its entirely possible that the loss of sacred sites in such an absolute manner may elicit rage, or a sense of fatalism, which may colour the evolution of faith.

If the destruction of earth was a sign of disfavour - the manner in which a remnant population survived may be seen as divine intervention or a test.

  • Depending on how this reminant population found their new home, they may consider the landing site as one possible symbolic center of faith

  • They might find a local geographical analogue - a perfect cube of basalt found by a exploring party might be a natural phenomenon, or a sign

  • they might take the route Jews took - and believe that it will be restored when its time, with pillars of faith adjusted around that.

  • The destruction of earth may be seen as a cataclysm and a result of human hubris, so survival seen as being 'chosen' or as a 'test', especially in harsher environments.


In the movie Pitch Black, there was a group of muslims stranded on that planet. when they prayed they all prayed in a circle facing each other. I would say this would show they were praying towards the stars where somewhere out there, the Kabah, or Allah would be. enter image description here


In Islam, when a person performs that specific prayer for which they are required to turn in one direction, if they're in the position of not knowing which position or direction they're supposed to face, it's not mandatory to find a direction.

When that prayer starts, there is a declaration of intent that literally says: "I intend to do this prayer for the consent of God". If you don't say it, then it does not matter how many hours you sit or stand up for; it would be worshiping but not that specific prayer.

For a situation like you described to occur, the world doesn't need to end. When the time for that prayer comes, a person could easily be in a train, plane, ship, moving in some vehicle, lost in a jungle, blind, etc. Whatever the situation may be, the only thing that changes would be that declaration of intent. In the first place, the person could easily be hundreds of km away from the Kaaba, which makes it impossible to accurately direct yourself to there.

As for the destroyed part: Muslims don't worship the Kaaba. We worship God in the direction of the Kaaba. However, in that prayer it's ideal to think of God and nothing else. This of course is impossible - anyone's mind will wander around from time to time. So the Kaaba is a convenience God gave humans, who can't perceive what they worship in any way, to not think up idolatrous figures, which is a sin in Islam. The Kaaba itself is no more than an empty building.


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