The Prophet of Islam started his mission in Makkah in 610 AD. At that time he used to pray by adopting the Kaaba as the qiblah (prayer direction). Then in 622, he migrated to Madinah where some Jewish tribes had settled. The Prophet then adopted the Jewish qiblah for his prayers over a period of fifteen or sixteen months. Then he again turned his face towards the Kaaba as the qiblah for his prayers. This event is referred to in the Qur’an in the chapter Al-Baqarah (The Heifer): But even if you should produce every kind of sign for those who have been given the Book, they would never accept your prayer direction, nor would you accept their prayer direction: nor would any of them accept one another’s direction. If, after all the knowledge you have been given, you yield to their desires, then, you shall surely become a transgressor. (2:145)
This prophetic example embodies an important principle: avoid unnecessary controversy. At that time, the Jews were a dominant community in Madinah (then known as Yathrib). For centuries they had been using the Dome of the Rock (Jerusalem) as their qiblah for prayer. It was sacred not only for the Jewish community but also, because of the Jewish influence, for the non-Jewish community. In such a situation, adopting the Kaaba as the qiblah was rather exceptional. In the early months, the Prophet had wanted to avoid unnecessary controversy, so he adopted the Jewish qiblah for his prayers five times a day. From this prophetic event, we can derive a general principle, not only with regard to prayers but in other spheres of life also.
A man with a mission always perseveres and avoids hindrances. This principle is very important; it saves you from unnecessary conflict. It gives you the opportunity to continue your mission in society without a break. It saves you from wasting your energy and time in futile quarrels. It shows great practical wisdom. And without practical wisdom, you cannot achieve any worthy goal in this world. A man with a mission cannot afford to engage in unnecessary conflict. As a man of dedication, he is determined about achieving his target. He always starts his activities in properly selected fields and never behaves like a grasshopper, jumping from one thing to another. A man with a mission always perseveres and avoids hindrances.
The above example set by the Prophet is an extreme example of this kind. People are not generally ready to be flexible about matters such as prayer, but the Prophet adopted this formula when dealing with this very sensitive issue of prayer. This formula is applicable to all the affairs of human life—wife and husband relationship, family affairs, social matters, national and international issues—everywhere there are scenarios of such kind and everywhere this formula is applicable. This formula is a universal formula; in this sense you can say that it is a divine formula. It is applicable to both religious and secular affairs.