Religion and Geography

The New Zealand Herald reports,

Instead of facing Islam’s most holy city, a clerical error of astronomical proportions has seen the faithful [among the 200 million Muslims in Indonesia] directing their prayers towards Kenya and southern Somalia.

The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the country’s highest Islamic body, has admitted that they made an error in an edict issued in March regarding the direction of the sacred Kaaba site in Mecca. Originally they had said that the Saudi Arabian city — where Muslims turn towards during their daily prayers — was due west of Indonesia, but they have now corrected themselves and are instead instructing followers to face a bit further to the north….

Despite the mistake, [Ma’ruf Amin, a senior MUI cleric,] reassured Muslims that any prayers made looking towards Africa will not have been wasted. “God understands that humans make mistakes,” he said.

Thanks to Prof. Howard Friedman (Religion Clause) for the pointer.