Was the Earliest Qibla Petra? Smith, “Lies” and Video Tape

The revisionist theory of Petra being an earlier qibla (prayer direction) for Muslims prior to Mecca is essentially part of a larger conspiracy theory amongst revisionists who posit Islam developed over a period of time after the Prophet. It will not come as a surprise that advocates of this revisionist theory also adopt ideas such as “the Quran was invented after the Prophet” (or even before the Prophet!) P

Jay Smith of Pfander Films is the chief advocate of such polemics in Christian-Muslim apologetics circles. One would imagine, to the embarrassment of serious-minded and more scholarly Christians.

jay-smith-shocked

Admittedly I don’t follow Jay Smith as closely as some but from the Islamic Awareness article, it appears Smith has revised his own theories; back in the early 2000s he used to claim the qibla was in the vicinity of Jerusalem and nowadays he’s claiming it is Petra.

Regardless of any shifts in his thinking, his theories fall flat on their face as shown on Islamic Awareness 15 years ago:

Modern studies have shown that in the early mosques astronomical alignments were used for qibla. Astronomical phenomenon such as sunrise or sunset during equinoxes, solstices, Pole star, Canopus, etc. were used to direct the mosques towards qibla. Concerning the early mosques in Egypt and Iraq, David King says:

The first mosque to be built in Egypt was built facing winter sunrise, and it was this direction which remained the most popular throughout the medieval period amongst the religious authorities. Likewise some of the earliest mosques in Iraq were built facing winter sunset. Only recently has it become known that astronomical alignments were used for the qibla, so that some modern historians (sic!) have mistakenly inferred from the orientations of the early mosques in Egypt and Iraq that they were not built to face the Kaaba at all, but rather to face some other sacred site. Now, however, we even know why such astronomical alignments were used

This completely refutes the position of Patricia Crone, Michael Cook and Christian missionary Joseph Smith. [Source]

As brilliantly outlined in this video by the erudite Mansoor, Smith’s conclusions and leanings on the work Dan Gibson and a certain “Dr Theus” are wild-eyed to the point of giving up on critical thinking and intellectual honesty. Smith’s theory of Petra being the early qibla (and his subsequent theory of Muslims inventing a new history and role for Mecca after the fact) are based on Google Earth images of mosques. Mansoor highlights the obvious problem in this methodology that anybody who offers it a little thought would recognise; one cannot ascertain the qibla via satellite images of mosques.

One must have knowledge of the interior of the mosque, Mansoor mentions floor plans and the mihrab (a niche in the interior of the wall of a mosque denoting the direction of prayer for worshippers in the mosque). Let me emphasise the methodology of folk like Jay Smith. If I showed you a Google Earth image of your local mosque would you be able to ascertain the direction the Muslims at that mosque pray towards? No, of course not. Smith would have folk believe he can do this for ancient mosques!

As pointed out in the video,”Dr Theus” even criticises the methodology of Dan Gibson and how arbitrary it was in terms of deciding where each mosque’s qibla was. One could just as easily decided the qibla was the direction of Hawaii rather than Petra using such a method.

At the end of the day this is an excellent example of how folks with agendas in the revisionists community churn out “research” which is essentially manipulated in attempts to support one’s pre-conceived contentions.

Basically Muslims would direct the qibla towards what they observed in the horizon when facing one of the walls of the Kaba. To read about the astronomical alignments which Muslims were using over the centuries to ascertain the qibla have a read of the relevant section in this article. A couple of take home points here are:

1. As the Kaba has four walls there were differences in the way Muslims directed their mosques – you’ll use different astronomical alignments depending on which wall of the Kaba you face to observe the horizon

2. It wasn’t an exact science and thus finding old mosques which aren’t orientated accurately is nothing to write home about. Islamic Awareness do show the most famous mosque outside of Arabia, masjid al aqsa, was oriented correctly towards Mecca.

Another excellent snippet to be alert to would be the leeway the Islamic tradition affords Muslims when it comes to determining the qibla; it doesn’t have to be an exact science:

There are several traditions in the Islamic heritage showing that the determination of the qibla was accomodated with some flexibility except for Makkah owing to the little knowledge in the fields of geography and geometry in the early centuries of Islam. Such traditions can be found in several ḥadīth collections like Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Sunan Ibn Majah and Muwaṭṭaʾ Mālik as stated below.

a. Muwaṭṭaʾ Mālik

Malik narrated to me on the authority of Nafiʿ that ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb said: “[Anywhere] between the East and the West is taken as a qibla as long as one heads towards the House”. Source

The Petra conspiracy theory has no evidence to it at all and I’m sure deep down this shamed Christian missionary knows it’s absurd – even if he is unable to comprehend what the scholarly Muslim was saying he will surely ask why there is NOTHING about Petra in early Muslim literature and why there was no upheaval and dispute after this supposed shift to Mecca!

So why does he make outlandish claims like these and try to prop them up with faulty reasoning and misinformation? It’s because of his agenda to “destroy Islam”.



Categories: Islam

80 replies

  1. This what you get when you read Patricia Crone.
    Book of that woman are literally dumb!

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    • The fact that the critics of Islam continue to promote these types of revisionist theories based on such poor and shoddy “Scholarship” just highlights their desperation. The fact that, Modern Biblical Scholarship and NT Historical Criticism have undermined and destroyed every central Christian doctrine. combined with the fact that Muslim apologists have increasingly provided an excellent case in defense of Islam, mean that these dishonest critics of Islam have nothing left in their polemic rebuttal other than LIES, Misinformation, Mistruths, half-truths, etc.

      How pathetic.

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  2. BAHAHA HA HA HA HA. Ok so the early mosques did not face Mecca or face Petra instead they faced “facing winter sunrise” LOL ha ha ha. Oh yah that makes it so much better lol.

    Thanks for clearing that one up Yahya lol.

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    • Trinitarian Christian ,before going further into this impotent argument of Mecca and Place of Qibla, the same question is reversed to you, do you have any shred of tangible evidence about YHWH’s fictious temple( if it did exist) and his lost ark apart from the Bible and its Young Earth Creationist fallacy?!!!!

      The only one thing which prove the existence of historic Jesus apart of the bible is:- his skull and bones being found in an ossury in a cave beneath a family house toilet in Talpiot Jerusalem

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    • Trinitarian Christian ,before going further into this impotent argument of Mecca and Place of Qibla, the same question is reversed to you, do you have any shred of tangible evidence about YHWH’s fictious temple( if it did exist) and his lost ark apart from the Bible and its Young Earth Creationist fallacy?!!!!

      The only one thing which prove the existence of historic Jesus apart from the bible is:- his skull and bones being found in an ossury in a cave beneath a family house toilet in Talpiot Jerusalem. Read The Lost Tomb of Jesus by Simcha Jacobovici

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    • @Haytham Ahmed Al Amin:
      You ignore the historical books from Roman, Greek and Jewish writers who wrote about the life and crucifixion of Jesus. The only book that denies the crucifixion of Jesus is the quran. How reliable is the quran? And what is the historical evidence for the existence of Muhammad? How many historical sources from that era write about Muhammad? NONE!!

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    • Marcel
      Concerning the Hadith. There is an early collection ‘Al-Muwatta’ by Imam Malik which he complied in Medina having interviewed those who actually knew the companions of the prophet Muhammad. He was extremely rigorous about which sayings attributed to Muhammad he wrote down in his collection. I have a copy on my desk.

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    • @Paul: Why is Muhammad’s name not in any historical writing in the 7th century? Why is his name only first mentioned in 691? Where are the quranic manuscripts from 7th century? Why is Mecca not mentioned anywhere before 741? Why wasn’t it on any map until 800, as it was such an important city?
      This article says nothing and ignores all the other evidences. For what reason did the muslims burn all the libraries? Did they have something to hide? Why is Mecca not conform the writings in the quran and hadith? Why is the “collection ‘Al-Muwatta’ by Imam Mali” not a official collection of hadith?
      Many, many unanswered questions. Almost all the historical ‘evidence’ is taken from islamic books, written 200-250 years after the death of Muhammad. So based on traditions only.

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    • @Paul: do you ignore these questions or do you have the answers? The truth always has answers, isn’t it?
      I never get an answer from muslims when I ask these questions. Why don’t I get answers? Do you muslims have something to hide?

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    • @Paul, I am still patiently waiting for answers. Usually, you are very quick with an answer, but it seems that it is very difficult to find answers. Or even impossible. If you have satisfying and convincing answers, I promise you that I become a muslim and you may write that on your list of ‘good deeds’.

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    • Harry,
      The Petra theory is modern revisionism, based in the western hermeneutics of suspicion and prejudice towards Islam. Here is a quote from an article by Joseph Lumbard entitled “New Light on the History of the Quranic Text?” which PW recently tweeted.

      “as regards the broad outlines of the history of the compilation and codification of the Quranic text, the classical Islamic sources are far more reliable than had hitherto been assumed. Such findings thus render the vast majority of Western revisionist theories regarding the historical origins of the Quran untenable.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joseph-e-b-lumbard/new-light-on-the-history-_b_7864930.html?

      The Petra theory is one of these untenable western revisionist theories.

      Another quote from the article –
      “In analyzing the arguments of scholars who challenge the account of the Islamic sources, Nicolai Sinai of Oxford University observes that epigraphic data and historical evidence “would allow us to take most of what the Islamic sources say at face value, and it is not clear why, in the absence of compelling evidence to the contrary, this should not be our default position.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joseph-e-b-lumbard/new-light-on-the-history-_b_7864930.html?

      Since the changing of the Qibla is contained in Surah 2 of the Qur’anic text, it must be viewed through the lens of Islamic historiography and Qur’anic exegetics not through a prejudiced western revisionism. There is no reason why our default position should not be in agreement with the Qur’an that the Qibla was changed during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (sws) as this is what the Qur’an says and what Islamic Historiography has agreed upon and passed down to us. Revisionist theories like Petra Qibla theory ignore the vast amount of data and evidence, included in 1400 years of Islamic scholarship, and therefore are based on poor scholarship and weak foundations – untenable.

      Western scholarship is beginning to understand that the Islamic Narrative must be taken into account as the default position, when interpreting both the Qur’an and Islamic History. Unfortunately, it seems that in holding on to these types of disproven untenable revisionist theories you and your wishful thinking are still behind the learning curve.

      Now, just tell us when you are ready to take Shahada! 🙂

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    • @Ibn Issam:
      “Islamic historiography” and “vast amount of data and evidence, included in 1400 years of Islamic scholarship”

      This says nothing without telling us what this contains. Historical researchers are common in what they tell us about the absence of documented historical evidences from the 7th century: it is a black hole! Why is it a black hole? Why is there such a lack of historical documents from the 7th century? That century was, according the islamic tradition, world changing. And no writings? Very strange.
      All other world changing events were well documented in history, except the beginning of islam. That was documented MUCH later.
      You can not simple play down many years of research done by historians with one article in Huffington post. There is a lot more to say about this topic.

      Even if the history of Muhammad was perfectly documented in the 7th century, there are too many flaws in the islamic theology left. I have seen many ridiculous hadith (yes, sahih hadith) and surahs that were clearly bad copies from ancient writings, and mistakes in ‘scientific miracles’, that convinced me that the islam cannot be a religion from God.

      So based on just rational thinking, I see no single reason to join islam. And I really do not understand that well thinking people join islam.

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    • @ Harry,
      The Qur’an itself is a historical evidence from the 7th century, as carbon dating has proven some of our earliest texts to be from the lifetime of prophet Muhammad and his companions. As far as other Historic evidences, Islamic Awareness has addressed this matter in detail under “History” here: http://www.islamic-awareness.org/ However, given that you prefer to desperately cling to your revisionist theorists I don’t expect you to agree with the real history but there it is. The fact that there are some Hadith that are questionable does not negate the overall Islamic Narrative.

      You stated that, “If you have satisfying and convincing answers, I promise you that I become a Muslim” We have provided your answers, along with other scholars who have answered the same question, yet you prefer to close your eyes and ignore the evidence that disproves your revisionist theories. If you had no intention of converting either way, than you are not a true seeker of truth, and you were lying when you said you would convert. That is a sin.

      I would have to write a book on why Christianity cannot be a true religion from God, but thankfully I don’t have to since Ehrman, Crossan, Dunne, Eisenmen, Metzger, Butz and many others have already done that for me. So based on that scholarship and just rational thinking, I see no single reason, and I really do not understand that well thinking people would accept or remain as Christians.

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  3. Trinitarian Christian, this is the type of exchange I really don’t like in comments.

    Mocking a complete caricature is not doing anybody any favours; it wastes my time, it frustrates others, possibly leads to baseless arguments and it doesn’t cover you in a good light.

    Read what is being said and check the relevant link more carefully and with a fairer disposition. You’ll see the early Muslims used to use what they saw as indicators in the sky when facing a particular wall of the Kaba as a direction for the qiblah.

    That’s where you get the “winter sunset” from.

    So that group of Muslims, for that mosque used the astronomical alignment of the winter sunset as they must have recalled seeing such when they faced a particular wall of the Kaba.

    It’s not a problem when you understand it.

    Peace

    Liked by 1 person

    • If they used non-reliable indicators, isn’t it coincidental that all these early mosques face towards Petra?
      And in those days, they know exactly how they must determine the right direction. There is a story in the bible that tells that people from the far east found the birthplace of Jesus based on the stars. That was 650-700 years before.
      And you ignore all the other evidences, like the first time Muhammad was mentioned (691), the absence of Mecca on the maps. the first time Mecca was mentioned (741) and so on.
      You talk about the agenda of the historians, but don’t you have your own agenda?

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    • Harry apart from Muslim or Islamic sources many non muslim sources as early as from 634 mentioned about Muhammad. Some are positive and some are negative but it does not deny the fact that Prophet Muhammad existed and some narrative matches with the life timeline of Prophet Muhammad. Regarding Quran already we have found manuscript of Quran from 7th century which matches with present day quran. I do not know what you were smoking.

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    • This is an easy issue to solve really. How about an independent academic commission made up of Muslims, Jews, Christians, atheists, anyone who wishes to join really, the more the merrier. A methodology is agreed and every single known mosque to say, the end of the seventh century AD is examined to see where the original qiblas face. If they face Mecca, fine. If Petra, fine. Nice and independent, full access to all sites and an agreed method to determine truth – it is truth that people are after, isn’t it? Now, just for one minute, my Muslim friends, what if the qiblas faced Mecca after Muhammed’s death? Dan Gibson, Jay Smith, Pfander et al would be silenced, would they not? And what if they faced Petra? What would this mean for at least two pillars of Islam – would they not be looking a little shaky? But it’s truth we’re looking for, isn’t it? Are you prepared to take the chance? Surely you have nothing to lose – do you??

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  4. You really don’t see the problem with your article. Whats even funnier is that Paul Williams doesn’t see it and I’m sure neither will any of the Muslims who read it;

    Congratulations you refuted Jay Smith, please keep it up lol

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    • Paul doesn’t want to see it. He puts his head in the sand because this will devastate his wrong choice. He knows the truth, but to turn back to the place where he comes from needs courage, like converted2islam did.

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  5. This is almost as good as when you and other Muslims posted the video of Hamaza and Adnan confronting PZ Myers claiming “Victory” LOL Only one small problem PZ Myers destroyed the “Scientific” miracles argument so bad that that caused Hamaz and others to begin to question the wisdom of using such foolish arguments

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  6. I read this most interesting article, allow me to quote from it:

    In his book on Nabataean names, Doctor Avraham Negev of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey suggested that much of the Nabataean graffiti found throughout the Negev and southern Jordan was written by people on pilgrimages to Petra. In his detailed study he notes the variety of names that occur in Thamudic, Safaitic, and other early Arabian dialects. (Negev, 1991) The discovery of a zodiac dated to the second century AD leads us to believe that there were two Nabataean pilgrimages. Zodiacs were well known throughout the ancient world. They expressed a belief in the cyclical passage of time and the power of the stars and planets to affect earthly events.

    The Nabataean zodiac has many images similar to Roman zodiacs of the time. However, one of the symbols portrays Allat, the female goddess of fertility, with a lance or sword which can faintly be seen above her left shoulder. This may have symbolized an ancient festival which was celebrated by the Nabataeans and their nomadic neighbors when the birthing of lambs marked the spring season. It was a time when grazing was good and the earth was green from the spring rains. The Nabataean equivalent of Sagittarius is rendered as the bust of a jovial youth, possibly al-Kutbay, the god of learning and commerce. Capricorn is shown in the Nabataean panel as the damaged bust of a human figure rather than the traditional Roman fish/goat that was common throughout the Roman Empire. The remaining symbols of the Nabataean zodiac conform to their Roman counterparts, but they are enlivened with original touches of artistic creativity. However, by far the most significant difference in the Nabataean zodiac is the arrangement of the order of the houses within the zodiacal circle.

    The Roman version follows the traditional order known today. Beginning at the top and going counter-clockwise, the Roman zodiac runs as follows: (1) Aries, (2) Taurus, (3) Gemini, (4) Cancer, (5) Leo, and (6) Virgo. Then there is a break at the bottom after which the succession resumes with (7) Libra, (8) Scorpio, (9) Sagittarius, (10) Capricorn, (11) Aquarius, and finally (12) Pisces. The Nabataean zodiac found at Khirbet Tannur is different in that it begins counter-clockwise with (1) Aries, (2) Taurus, (3) Gemini, (4) Cancer, (5) Leo, and (6) Virgo. Then there is a break by the nikés head. So far, this is like the Roman version. Following the traditional order, one would expect (7) Libra to be next in the counter-clockwise progression. But this is not so! This space is occupied by (12) Pisces! Instead, the Nabataean Libra appears at the top, beside Aries. This begins a clockwise progression around the zodiacal circle’s opposite (left) side; beginning clockwise from (7) Libra at the top, the progression follows in order from (7) to (12) to end at the left side of the niké caryatid’s head.

    Thus, the Nabataean zodiac is extraordinary in its two opposite and completely separate halves. Some archeologists think that this denotes the existence of two New Year celebrations, one in the spring and the other in the fall, and this might help explain why there were two great festivals at Petra each year.

    Al Ṭabarī, the great Islamic historian of 900 AD, notes in volume VI of The History of al-Ṭabarī (page 12) that during the days before Islam, there were two pilgrimages. The lesser was known as ’umrah. He notes that ’Abd al-Muttalib (Muḥammad’s grandfather) performed ’umrah on one occasion. This was at a time when the forbidden sanctuary held many pagan idols, among them Hubal (Ṭabarī VI, 1075 page 3) and Isaf and Na’ilah (pg 4). The Qur’ān tells us that these pre-Islamic pagan pilgrimages were known respectively as ḥajj (Qur’ān 2:158, 196) and ’umrah, commonly called the greater and lesser pilgrimage.

    From ancient time the Arabian pilgrimage was always to the religious center of Arabia, the forbidden sanctuary, the holy burial city of Petra. It was in this city that the Nabataean dead were buried, and it was in this city that the living gathered to eat a ritual meal with their extended family in the presence of the long departed ancestors. This custom was part of the cultural and ethnic make-up of the Nabataeans, and was the glue that held them, a nomadic merchant people, together as a society. In Petra today visitors can see the gathering halls that are attached to many of the tombs where family gatherings celebrated the living and the dead.

    The importance of the direction of prayer (qibla)

    Today all mosques are not only aligned to face the direction of prayer, but they all have an architectural feature built in to emphasise it. The direction of prayer is called qibla and every mosque today has a niche (miḥrab) built in the qibla wall to provide clear indication of the direction of Mecca. The very earliest mosques however did not have the miḥrab niche, but were simply aligned in such a way that when the faithful faced the qibla wall they automatically faced the Holy City of Islam.

    Christians today take little notice of the direction they might face when praying. For them, God is present everywhere, and they are free to pray in any direction. Jews also have no prescribed direction of prayer, although some choose to face towards the temple site in Jerusalem based on the words of King Solomon’s prayer when he dedicated the temple to Jehovah. (I Kings 8:38-48)

    In Islam, it is universally understood that the qibla was changed and this change is referred to in the Qur’ān. The text of the Qur’ān itself does not give the name of the place to which prayer was originally made, nor to which it was switched, nor when the switch occured. According to Al Ṭabarī, (Volume VI, 1218, page 132) when the subject of qibla came up during pre-Hijra days, Muḥammad directed them to pray towards Syria. The Qur’ān, early ḥadīths and early Islamic histories never say that the qibla was towards Jerusalem.

    Mention of Jerusalem as the qibla doesn’t appear in Islamic literature until over 300 years after Muḥammad died. All of the early records simply state that Muḥammad prayed towards Syria. If he did pray towards Jerusalem, it would seem strange that the records would not state Jerusalem, since it was a known and important center at the time. Muḥammad continued with his original qibla until February 624 when Islamic sources note that Muḥammad changed the qibla towards Mecca. (Al Ṭabarī Volume 6, page 131 footnote 209) and (Al Ṭabarī Volume VII, page 25) Al Ṭabarī’s record mentioning Jerusalem being the focus of prayer was written around the year 920, almost 300 years after the qibla had been changed. By this time the idea of Jerusalem was being circulated, but the Qur’ān and the early histories all say that it was towards Syria that Muḥammad prayed.

    The changing of the Muslim qibla

    The Qur’ān clearly tells us that the qibla was changed during Muḥammad’s lifetime.
    Thus have we made of you an Ummah justly balanced that ye might be witnesses over the nations and the apostle a witness over yourselves; and we appointed the qibla to which thou wast used only to test those who followed the apostle from those who would turn on their heels (from the faith). Indeed it was (a change) momentous except to those guided by Allāh. And never would Allāh make your faith of no effect. For Allāh is to all people most surely full of kindness most merciful. We see the turning of thy face (for guidance) to the heavens; now shall we turn thee to a qibla that shall please thee. Turn then thy face in the direction of the sacred mosque; wherever ye are turn your faces in that direction. The people of the book know well that that is the truth from their Lord nor is Allāh unmindful of what they do. Even if thou wert to bring to the people of the book all the signs (together) they would not follow thy qibla; nor art thou going to follow their qibla; nor indeed will they follow each other’s qibla. If thou after the knowledge hath reached thee wert to follow their (vain) desires then wert thou indeed (clearly) in the wrong.
    (Sūra 2.143-145, Yusif Alī)

    Since Muḥammad revealed the Qur’ān, then this text from the Qur’ān indicates that the qibla was changed during Muḥammad’s lifetime. However, no place names are given, and it seems to be assumed that all religions have qiblas. Archeology backs up the changing of the qibla. There are many early mosques that faced a direction other than where Mecca is today. In the next chapter these early mosques are individually examined, photographed, and dates assigned to their construction.

    you can read the rest here: http://nabataea.net/qibla.html

    Articles about this issue are always lengthy, regardless of which side they come down on. Ultimately, if we are to accept the Quran’s word for it, the fact that the qibla was changed in Muhammads lifetime speaks loudly to the issue of which way the Muslim was intended to pray. Either Muhammad changed his mind, or Allah offers an evolving revelation.

    And Trinitarian, whomever you are, click on the link. I think you would also find it interesting.

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    • LW included this quote in the above excerpt from an article – “According to Al Ṭabarī, (Volume VI, 1218, page 132) when the subject of qibla came up during pre-Hijra days, Muḥammad directed them to pray towards Syria.”

      The geographic area, now known as Syria, was referred to by the early Arabs as Biladu-Sham. It is well known even among modern Arabs, that the traditional and historical boundaries of Greater Sham encompassed the modern day boundaries of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine/Israel. Therefore, when the Qibla was changed it would not have been incorrect to direct the Muslims to pray towards Biladu-Sham (Greater Syria) as Jerusalem was situated in that geographic area. The fact that Jerusalem was not mentioned by name in the Qur’an does not provide conclusive evidence that it was not the intended focus of prayer, pre-Mecca.

      This pathetic revisionist theory has been disproven, and it is sad, that some Christians keep embarrassing themselves by referring to it as if it is even remotely convincing to anyone who knows the real facts. After watching their own religion being undermined and destroyed by modern Biblical Scholarship and NT Historical Criticism, these Christians seem to be desperate to grasp on to any ludicrous theory that is offered up in an effort to try and attack and destroy Islam as well.

      Instead of attacking Islam, they should be advised to leave the now proven false beliefs of Trinitarian Paulinian Christianity and come home to Islam.

      Because the fact is this –

      Unlike the house of cards that is Christianity, the Citadel of Islam is fortified and is built upon strong foundations that can never be shaken or undermined.

      Alhamdulillah!!! We thank Allah for all the blessings he has gifted us with!

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    • Ibn Issam

      “The fact that Jerusalem was not mentioned by name in the Qur’an does not provide conclusive evidence that it was not the intended focus of prayer, pre-Mecca.”

      But it does add even more weight to the argument that the ritualistic practices and tenets of islam do not derive from the word of your supposed god. If allah does not say it, then you are merely following the dictates of a human which means you are committing shirk by elevating the words and practices of a man to the same level as god.

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    • Trey,
      You remind me of a one track record.

      We follow the guidance of Almighty God Allah, and yes, we follow the Guidance of a human…..who happened to be a Prophet and Messenger of God.

      One could say the same of you, “following the dictates of a human” – Prophet Jesus, the Messenger of Allah. Although I might add, you are not following his dictates very closely, as he never preached salvation through his own death on the cross.

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  7. I haven’t seen a single satisfactory muslim reply to this problem of the Petra qibla. Archaeology has completely destroyed the islamic texts as a reliable and accurate source for historical information.

    All qiblas faced Petra for 12 years after mohammed’s death – neither the hadith nor the quran mention this. What this means is that these texts are highly redacted and corrupted.

    Islam has been exposed.

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    • Interesting. Can you name the studies that document that the earliest Qiblahs pointed to Petra?

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    • Dan Gibson has no publications in peer reviewed journals. Can you cite some recent peer reviewed papers that advance the Qiblah Petra theory?

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    • As expected, you moved the goalposts.

      You asked for study that documents that the earliest qiblas faced Petra and I gave you a link to an entire book and now you change the criteria.

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    • Trey hasn’t seen a single satisfactory Muslim reply. There you go, this stupid idea must be true and “Islam has been exposed”!

      Strange that not one orientalist in the world (and trust me they have their cranks) has promoted this “sensationalist” find. Since 2011, the only orientalist who has bothered reviewing it is Michael Lecker who has written a scathing review. Ironically, Lecker does think that the “thorny issue of the Qibla” does need to be tackled(Obviously, he has a his own trend of thought. I personally don’t think it is thorny at all). He doesn’t think Dan Gibson’s work has helped. I find his comments about the bibliography quite entertaining. I quote

      “…Among the sources quoted are a daily newspaper, an Arabic television show, talks with devout Muslims and the registry of a local clinic in Ma‛ān (only 30 km from Petra) that includes an amazing number of ‘Quraysh names’. The annotated bibliography of early Islamic sources is an unnatural blend of Arabic books from different genres, but it has a major lacuna. The author claims (p. 370) to have examined the descriptions of Mecca in early Islamic literature, but the vast Arabic literature about Mecca is not there. Ṭabarī’s Qurʼān commentary is called ‘al-musammā (!) Jāmi‛ al-Bayān fī Taʼ wīl al-Qurʼ ān’ and Ibn Hishām is referred to throughout the book as Ibn Ḥishām. Moreover, Ibn Hishām is said (p. 375) to have been Ibn Isḥāq’s grandson. (Ibn Isḥāq is often referred to as ‘Isḥāq’.) Parts of the book have the quality of a travel book that could benefit from a thorough copy editing. It relies heavily on Internet sites that offer satellite images…”

      I mean thinking that Ibn Hisham was the grandson of Ibn Ishaq is just grand! Ha ha

      This issue is quite old and there are no “new facts” on the ground. Robert Hoylands view was the most reasonable view and it still is. I doubt it will be change very much given the shoddy use of archaeological evidence by th like of Dan Gibson( the Chinese mosque was particularly funny!).

      Simply put, this is an embarrassment to Christian Apologetics and it is best Christians run a mile from this if they ever want to convince any Muslim out there.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Trey: You asked for study that documents that the earliest qiblas faced Petra and I gave you a link to an entire book and now you change the criteria.

      I asked for studies as in plural.

      Like

    • So can you cite some peer reviewed papers on Qiblah-Petra stuff?

      Like

  8. That should read….”all qublas faced petra for 125 years….”

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  9. Fact: the Quran claims Mecca is the Qibla of the muslims.
    Fact: there are no buildings with a qibla facing Mecca for 100 years after the Qibla was supposedly fixed
    Fact: Qibla’s faced different directions, most of which facing Petra

    Conclusion: the Quran is historically unreliable even regarding the essentials of the faith as it is disproven by the archeological data.

    Question: How are these historical findings not at odds with the claim of the Quran that in one of the most pivotal moments in Islamic history Mecca became the direction of prayer for the earliest muslims?

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    • “Fact: there are no buildings with a qibla facing Mecca for 100 years after the Qibla was supposedly fixed
      Fact: Qibla’s faced different directions, most of which facing Petra”

      Pile of rubbish! Even a cursory reading of the current academic literature would falsify this.

      Out of curiosity are we dealing young earth creationists in speakers corner ?

      Like

    • “…Walid may genuinely have been striving to impose greater accuracy of alignment towards Mecca, at least for congregational mosques. Certainly in Syria increased precision was achieved: the mosques at ‘Amman, Qahr all{harana, Jabal Says, Qahr al-l:Iayr al-Sharqi, Qahr al-l:Iayr al-Gharbi and Ruhafat Hisham are all oriented towards Mecca with an error of 9 degrees or less, the deviation becoming smaller as time went on….The issue then may not be so much what the Muslims were directing themselves towards, as how they established what that direction was… From the late eighth century onwards we find Muslim astronomers busily devising trigonometric and geometric solutions to the problem of determining the Qibla for any given locality……The problem was that “the greater the distance involved, the greater the error in the qibla.”

      From Robert Hoylands “Seeing Islam…”

      Note the mosques from Negev also do not point in a significant manner to Petra. All the mosques mentioned by Hoyland are Umayyad. In other words, how in the world does Dan Gibson magically come up with coordinates that contradict archaelogists doing the ground work on primary sites ? You got it, Google Earth !

      Even his analysis of images from Google Earth are bizarre. Note the “standard error” of nine degrees. In fact a number of “local ones” were even further off as confirmed even by Islamic sources. Why?

      Far more likely that we have an expedient from the early Islamic community to face somewhat more south (anything southernly between east and west is an accepted direction. By the way, Isnad and matn analysis of these narrations make them very early indeed. ) with more accuracy being attested to by mosques that are larger enterprises.

      Why do we know this ? Because the early mosques are consistently inconsistent. None of the mosques point to any particular alternative qilbla that has been conspiratorially removed from history. Jerusalem is out, Petra is certainly out, Crones bizarre mysterious site in North West Arabia is out (she only mentioned this as a possibility ) and the cardinal east theory of the late Bashear is out.

      Wouldn’t it far more reasonable to relate the archaeology with the unanimous memories of early Muslim community(that spread from Spain to Central Asia), the testimony of early non Muslims sources and the bloody coordinates (within 9 degrees to Mecca!) of the early Umayyad mosques !

      The alternative would be a massive conspiracy that is alien to the memories of whole communities that interprets the coordinates of the early mosques in an ad hoc and even factually incorrect manner

      Like

    • Well they are consistently inconsistent in a southerly direction which obviously confirms the Islamic sources i.e. Anything between east and west in a southerly direction is enough to “face” the Qibla.

      Like

    • Unitarian,
      Yes you are right. Revisionist Theories such as this are always propagated based on faulty scholarship, and manufactured “facts.” while ignoring the mountain of evidence, such as archeological evidence,unanimous memories of early Muslim community, and traditional Islamic Scholarship, which prove such theories are nothing more than flat out lies, and wishful thinking of deceitful enemies of Islam. These critics are forced to ignore the traditional Muslim interpretations and understanding of their own religion in order to give their own revisionism any credence of palatability. Because the cumulative evidence and facts, easily proves them wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Jay Smith and his two angry acolytes are not by any stretch of the imagination serious academics.

    Like

  11. Irony of ironies! Jay Smith and team school a Muslim polemicist named Mansur, and embarrass him so badly that Mansur ends up taking off. Devastating critique of Muslim claims for Mecca. Watch this, study it and pass it on to others: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mbm2Si3XGXU

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  12. Of all of the revisionist theories that concern the early origins of Islam, I would say that Fred Donner has the best evidence for his position. I will admit that I’ve never studied Gibson’s book but want to. With the exception of Donner, every revisionist theory has gaping holes. Robert Spencer’s book theory that Muhammad didn’t exist is ridiculous. If you read his book, he takes so many liberties and spins the evidence. Donner is the best in my opinion and even his revisionist theory doesn’t stray too far from the orthodox muslim narrative.

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    • No one in the academic study of Islam takes Spencer seriously. You shouldn’t mention him in the same sentence as Donner who IS a highly esteemed scholar.

      Like

  13. To the Christians who are perhaps defending Smith just because he is one of their apologists,

    The idea that all the Muslims prayed towards Petra for the first century of Islam and then all of a sudden changed it to Mecca based on arbitrary pics from Google images would be akin to somebody coming along now and taking satellite images of older mosques in Europe and claiming Muslims in Europe used to face Aberdeen for prayer and then changed the direction to Mecca in the 1990s.

    It would be absurd – you can’t tell the direction of the qibla via satellite mages and the lack of documentation (and the documentation of the arguments and upheaval upon this supposed shift from Aberdeen to Mecca) would also argue against that type of conjecture.

    The same applies with the Petra theory. The methodoloy is flawed and the lack of documentation of this “original qibla” and the disputes and schisms on the onset of this suposed shift from Petra to Mecca would again point at how much of a wild eyed conspiracy theory it is.

    In fact, it’s the type of conspiracy theory that would ne in the same drawer as that of Jesus not being a historical figure!

    Also to add, Smith’s new source actually denounced Gibson’s methodology as one which would fit any geographical location one wants it to fit; he even says Gibson could have claimed all those mosques had a qibla facing Hawaii rather than Petra (tha’s how arbitrary his method was)!

    Come on folks, you’re doing yourselves no favours at all by trying to defend the indefensible just because one of your apologists made such claims.

    And please do watch the video in the original post; it deals with Gibson’s methodology and conclusions.

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    • Jay is gets his information from other researchers and he makes his own conclusion. There is done a lot of research. Muslims ignore this research as this is too devastating for their faith.
      They even wanted to demolish Muhammad’s birth house (I don’t know of they have done that already, I am not allowed to visit Mecca). They probably know already that Muhammad could not have been born there.

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    • Yahya, why do you seem to assume that Jay Smith asserts that Gibson used Google Earth to determine the direction of the qiblas – he doesn’t. You and Mansur seem fixated on refuting something that wasn’t actually being argued. There are other far more sophisticated means which could have been used. I guess we’ll just have to wait and find out – I’ve worked it out BTW and it’s not Google Earth – it’s far more accurate than that 🙂 The evidence is pretty impressive for qiblas facing Petra rather than Mecca for the first century of Islam – what would that mean for your understanding, presuming you are a genuine seeker of truth?

      Like

    • @Steve Cleary: Dan Gibson even visited all these mosques and measured personally the direction where these mosques were facing to

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  14. So here are the facts Muslims because you guys keep missing them.

    1. The Qibla of early Mosques faced different directions.
    2. Some faced Petra,
    3. Others as Yahya dimwitted pointed out faced the direction of the setting winter sun. (Sounds kind of Pagan to me)
    4. Others faced other directions but for at least a hundred years they did NOT face Mecca.

    So what does this demonstrate. It demonstrates that for at least 100 years after Mohamed the direction of the qibla was not set.

    Why is this important, because according to the Quran it was SET. This is a problem

    It demonstrates at the very least that Islam was EVOLVING

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    • Or maybe they simply got the direction wrong?

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    • “Or maybe they simply got the direction wrong?”

      Every time?

      Or maybe the quran and other islamic sources were added to or redacted later.

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    • Trey: Every time? Or maybe the quran and other islamic sources were added to or redacted later.

      Highly unlikely given the Birmingham Quran manuscripts which are one of the earliest and provide no evidence of Petra as Qiblah. Also unlikely in light of the fact that since the early Muslims did not suppress reports on disputes surrounding the preservation and correct recitation of the Quran they certainly wouldn’t have suppressed disputes regarding the Qiblah. Try again.

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    • Trey and Trinitarian Christian,

      There’s no evidence those mosques all got the qibla wrong. As already highlighted, a few times now, the methodology of Gibson’s claims was invalid and arbitrary; there was no way of him ascertaining the true direction of the qibla in those mosques and his method could have chosen any direction even that of Hawaii.

      The group of mosques facing the winter sunset is again, addressed more than once. See the body of the post and/or my previous comment.

      And if you watched the video you will know there are mosques proven to have a qibla facing Mecca and in the body of the post it mentions Majid al Aqsa has shown to have a qibla facing Mecca accurately.

      Peace

      Like

    • They were given an expedient (anything between east and west in a southerly direction and with the technology of that time within 9 degrees when they tried. Quite good I say. I know Dan Gibson thinks they were super Arabs that had precise science that would allow them to exactly point to an area. Yeah sure and evidence?. So what is the problem?

      This explanation fits the late antique context, the non Muslim testimony, the archaeological data and the collective memory of all the Muslims

      So there is your explanation why mosques in this period didn’t precisely point to Mecca

      Now here is your self defeating proposition. Please provide me with the coordinates from an academic source on the ground of one mosque that precisely points to Petra. Go for it! Significant number of data available (from academic sources) if you bothered.

      “It demonstrates at the very least that Islam was EVOLVING”

      Just love this . Nope in the words of Hoyland

      “The issue then may not be so much what the Muslims were directing themselves towards, as how they established what that direction was. Here one must differentiate between the calculation of the direction for congregational mosques and its estimation for individuals, private prayer places and so on. The latter was always likely to be inaccurate whereas the former was likely to be depend on the current state of astronomical science and its correct application. From the late eighth century onwards we find Muslim astronomers busily devising trigonometric and geometric solutions to the problem of determining the Qibla for any given locality……The problem was that “the greater the distance involved, the greater the error in the qibla”

      There you go and data on the ground has not changed since Hoyland mentioned this in the late 90’s

      Islam isn’t evolving, its the technology. Get it ?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Kmak

      “Highly unlikely given the Birmingham Quran manuscripts which are one of the earliest and provide no evidence of Petra as Qiblah. Also unlikely in light of the fact that since the early Muslims did not suppress reports on disputes surrounding the preservation and correct recitation of the Quran they certainly wouldn’t have suppressed disputes regarding the Qiblah. Try again.”

      Transparent attempt at deflection.

      The birmingham manuscript contains three partial surahs that allude to ideas that seem to belong to christian or jewish sects. There is nothing islamic about them, so it is no surprise that they don’t mention the qibla.

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    • Trey: The birmingham manuscript contains three partial surahs that allude to ideas that seem to belong to christian or jewish sects. There is nothing islamic about them, so it is no surprise that they don’t mention the qibla.

      Man, you are so ignorant. Read actual works of scholarship sometime.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Oh yeah, the imprecise individual mosques and the precise ones that are within 9 degrees are not chronologically separate. They occur in line with each other (we are referring to material data here. Something that Gibson wants yes?)

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  16. Watch this quote at the end of the movie “Sacred City” from Dan Gibson. They have asked many muslims and islamic institues to comment, refute or dispute, but no one dared. I searched on the internet for a muslim response, but I found barely one. The ones I found said nothing. If they are so convinced about the truth, why don’t they refute this? That is very suspicious….

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  17. YAHYASNOWBLOG wrote: “The Petra conspiracy theory has no evidence to it at all and I’m sure deep down this shamed Christian missionary knows it’s absurd – even if he is unable to comprehend what the scholarly Muslim was saying he will surely ask why there is NOTHING about Petra in early Muslim literature and why there was no upheaval and dispute after this supposed shift to Mecca!”

    No evidence at all? Dan Gibson wrote a 470 pages thick book, with many, many evidences, not just the mosques, but also many other evidences. And other historians discovered similar evidences.

    You ask for the reason why Petra was not mentioned in any muslims literature. You could also ask why there is NOTHING about Mecca in any literature before 741! Why was Mecca not on any map before 800? Was Mecca not the ‘center of History’? Bit strange that the ‘center of History’ and an important stop on a caravan route is not on any map then or in any writing before 741? Why is such an important man as Muhammad not in any literature in the 7th century? Why is his name first mentioned in an inscription in 691? Why is the first reference to ‘muslims’ in 691? Why was there such a change in 691?
    Why did the muslims burn so many libraries, like the great Library of Alexandria, in the 7the/8th century?
    Is it coincidental that from 721 the direction of mosques started to change towards Mecca?

    So if Mecca was not mentioned before 741, and there were no 7th century writings about Muhammad, the hadith are 200-300 years after Muhammad, isn’t it strange that it is very likely that it looks like a long term development of the islamic religion? So it is not strange that Petra is not in early Muslim literature. It will feed the assumption that Muhammad was not the important man as they tell us now. Muslims have their own agenda.

    Muslims has a lot to explain. But they ignore this topic. They are very keen to discuss any theological topic and they are also very keen to destroy Christianity if they could, but they ignore the evidences that are really devastating islam.

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    • Harry: Dan Gibson wrote a 470 pages thick book, with many, many evidences

      How many academic historians of Islam has he convinced with his thesis?

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    • @Kmak: probably more than you wish. I have seen several muslims who or left islam, or changed their view. These muslims probably were already doubting about the traditional islamic doctrine. There are more muslims who are doubting as you wish there are.

      Beside that: do you know how many people, who have believed their entire life something that is their truth, shut their eyes for evidences that devastate their truth, because they can’t handle it? I do not talk about muslims only, but that happens everywhere. The truth or evidences are not always enough to convince people. It is also psychological.
      If I would face such devastating evidence about what I believe, I think that I would have sleepless nights.

      So it is obvious that most muslims will avoid every proof that possibly destroy their faith. Not only muslims, also christians, atheists, buddhists and so on will do that if it concerns their conviction. Your faith is something what is your identity. How much is needed to change someone’s identity? That is very, very hard.
      You all have learned from your childhood that the quran is the word of God, Muhammad is his perfect messenger, that he came from Mecca and so on. So you will, in the first place, do anything to refute everything that is against your faith. And that is good, but how far will someone go to keep believing, despite many evidences? God knows.

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    • Harry: @Kmak: probably more than you wish.

      Can you name three academic historians of Islam who have endorsed Gibson’s book. Thanks.

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    • Why should I name “academic historians of Islam” who endorsed his book? I just explained that muslims are not eager to endorse a book that devastates their faith. You also know that it is not easy to question your religion in the islamic world. And apostasy is even punishable with death, or at least exclusion. So muslims are generally scared to death to question their faith. The islamic doctrine is clear about this: even thinking that the islam could not be the truth could result a one way trip to hell. I am happy that I am free of this manipulative doctrine.

      But isn’t it remarkable that there is no single muslim that refute Gibson’s book and documentary? Only a few things are discussed. If it concerns a theological issue, the muslims are very, very keen to refute this, but when it concerns historical and archaeological issues, the muslims remain silent. Why? Isn’t it because they don’t have refutations?

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    • Harry: Why should I name “academic historians of Islam” who endorsed his book?

      Because I asked you to.

      Like

    • So what, I asked many other questions you didn’t reply to as well. You are talking around the issues.

      Like

    • Harry, you do realize you are just a random guy on the internet and that there’s no reason to take anything you say seriously especially when the scholarly community doesn’t think much of Gibson’s book?

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    • @Kmak: you don’t get it. The scholarship don’t want to get it. They barely can get it.

      What do you think: scholars have studied many, many years, based on what the tradition told them. They teach islam for a living, have their entire social network built on islam and then, some historians do research for the origins of islam, without the islamic filter, and they see things you don’t see when you look through an islamic filter. That’s what people call: the blind spot.
      Everyone has one or more blind spots. But usually, when light shines into the blind spot, it could be surprising, but not always devastating.

      In this case, the light exposes a history that will have a huge impact on the life of many people. Especially when you are a scholar. So scholars are scared to death that there shows something up that will destroy what they always have believed. Or what they have started to believe when they didn’t know this blind spot.

      If you and other muslims want to believe in a religion that has a huge black hole regarding historical writings, and what we know is that it has developed over a period over 200-300 years, you must do it.
      But if you are honest to yourself, you have to answer difficult questions. And what I see is that muslims ignore these questions. They run away from these. So if you are happy with these questions you cannot answer, it is your choice.

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    • Harry: @Kmak: you don’t get it. The scholarship don’t want to get it. They barely can get it.

      Yeah. No one gets it except for this random guy on the internet.

      Like

  18. Harry, there are references to Prophet Muhammad p within 2 years of his passing away. See this video, a missionary called Jay Smith makes claims like those to try and negate the historicity of Prophet Muhammad p:

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    • You are probably right. I found a few more. But not as someone who was considered a prophet or a religious leader. And what about all the other evidences? The lack of writings about Mecca? And so on?

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    • Those aren’t evidences. Harry, do you realise the methodology Jay is using here? He’s basically saying show me written evidence, that is extant, that dates to within 80 years of the Prophet’s life.

      That could not be done for Paul of Tarsus, Jesus p, Peter, Moses, Noah etc.

      Jay is just trying to contrive a big conspiracy theory hence why he asks for things that aren’t available. In reality if he was consistent he would be spouting the history of Paul of Tarsus, Jesus p, Noah, Moses, Peter was made up too as those evidences aren’t available within the desired period within their respective lives.

      Inconsistency is a sign of a failed argument. In the case of Jay Smith it’s a sign of a whacky conspiracy theory.

      I don’t have time to continue checking back here.

      Peace

      Like

    • Harry,
      As you can see, the argument from Ad Ignorantum works both ways.

      Like

    • You think that I listen to Jay only, assuming that I am not open minded and not critical for what I hear. Of course, I cannot test everything from the source, and have to rely on what people tell me, but that is your ‘problem’ as well. But I check other historians as well. And I also see that Jay is not always right. But it is often plausible what he says. He does not fabricate everything he says, he also use sources from historians as well. If you think that Jay has his own agenda, that could be. But do the other historians have a christian agenda, too? I don’t think so.

      Yes, you are right that Christians do not have the original manuscripts as well. But that was 600 years before Muhammad. And there are older, complete manuscripts from a much earlier century than the 7th. There are many manuscripts from other books from far before the 7th century. The problem is that such a world changing event as the introduction of islam was lacks historical documents, which is unusual in that era. The Great Library of Alexandria had 750,000 books! These were all burnt by muslims. But many other libraries were still there. So why is there NO SINGLE islamic book from the 7th century. You cannot compare the 1st century with the 7th century. This has nothing to do with consistency. It’s what you may expect from that era.

      Like

    • Harry, how much do you think revisionism occupies the current academic research on Islam?

      Like

  19. How about the Sana mosque which was built during the time of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) ? It’s direction towards Jabal Deyn reaches Ka’aba with pinpoint accuracy.

    Like

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