PETRA VS MECCA

Table of Contents

Qibla / Sacred Mosque Controversy: God’s House At Wrong Place – Petra vs Mecca

A Reply To Dan Gibson, Patricia Crone, Jay Smith & Others

Image of Kaaba In Mecca
I am writing this article after getting many emails from concerned Muslims from all over the world and especially from the USA, UK, France and Eastern Europe regarding new propaganda based on some research concluding that Muslims are praying towards the wrong Qibla. This is such a big “Fitna” a Trial that the majority of Muslims have no idea of it right now. It’s just started aggressively after 2017 when a new research came out. Although previously there were attempts by people of other religions and also some archaeological, historical research work backing their claims, but the magnitude it gained after Dan Gibson books “The Nabataeans”, “Quranic Geography” and “Early Islamic Qiblas” is to such an extent that those Muslims that are living on the edge of their faith can become its victim.

The apostate Muslims who have their websites and youtube channels…all of a sudden they all become active. And all this is not a coincidence. Not only this but the false claimant of Holy figures like “Al Yamani” Ahmed Al Hassan and others alike, also propagating the same idea that Islam has not started from Mecca and Muhammad PBUH was not born there and the Sacred House is not in Mecca but somewhere in Northern Arabia.

Early Islamic History Debate: Islam’s Birthplace

Ruins Of A Building In Old Petra City
This is not a coincidence that all this started simultaneously and when even many Muslim scholars are not well aware of this happening, how come that all apostate groups of Muslims, the false claimants of the title of Mehdi/&Al Yamani started propagating this along with Christians and Jews. And all this surprisingly started simultaneously. The reason is simple, they all have the same source of funding. They all have their ropes moving from the same place. It is such a big Trial that Muslim scholars don’t even have an idea. Also because it is such a recent phenomenon thus there is no detailed reply available from any Muslim scholar about this issue. For some Muslims and apostates, I know that there is also hatred, malice, grudge and animosity against the House of Saud that also seems to come out under cover-up of this research. Discrediting the present-day status of the Holy Kaaba the Sacred Mosque and its legitimacy as the House of God and thus discrediting Saudi Arabia’s status as the custodian of Kaaba. But is this the way to deal with this political issue? This conspiracy is not limited to discredit Mecca only but the actual goal is to shake the ground of the very foundation of the religion of Islam and ultimately creating doubts in the hearts of Muslims about the authenticity and unaltered status of the Quran.

This claim is not such novel as before Gibson this type of reasoning was originally started by Patricia Crone and Michael Cook. Gibson in his books raised 24 points. When I evaluated these points I was able to see a clear agenda, which is to raise so much dust that no one could see anything. And thus creating doubts about the very origin of the Islamic religion. Some people say that he is only a researcher and he just brought forward what has come to his knowledge and findings. But that’s not true. The way he wrote his books and the little baseless points he put forward just to build his case to prove his theory at any cost is not appropriate for the purpose of pure academic research. I should preferably say that he is not a researcher, archaeologist or a historian but a filmmaker whose only intention is to present fiction in a cinematic larger than life way and during this distort the facts by presenting and imposing multiple fictitious data and questions in a way that no one could see anything about the baselessness of his claim but get trapped in the jugglery of data, words and false claims.

BULLET POINTS OF DAN GIBSON’S CLAIMS, MY REPLY & EVEN MORE

1: Becca Is Not Mecca
2: Why Previous Prophets Never Visited Mecca
3: Battle For Medina, Attack From Northern Side
4: The Order Of The Battle For Mecca
5: Change Of Qibla Commandment
6: Mecca, Mother Of Cities?
7: Mecca had Greenery & Agriculture
8: Mecca Had Fruits As Provision
9: Mecca Was Near To The Valley Of Sodom
10: Safa Marwa Height & Distance
11: Quran’s Focus On Northern Arabia
12: No Record Of Quran’s Old Manuscripts
13: Ibn e Zubyr Moved The Black stone to Mecca

14: Early Mosques Qibla Issue
15: Nothing Mentioned About Muhammad In 600’s & 700’s
16: More Refutation Of Gibson & Jay Smith
17: Was It Possible To Keep Such A Secret
18: Mecca Description In Quran
19: Mecca As A Barren Valley
20: Mecca As A Secure Sanctuary
21: Quran’s Mention Of Idolatry
22: Petra Claim At Odds With Facts
23: Perfect Place For The Security Of A New Religion
24: Byzantine Issue
25: Migration To Ethiopia

The Crux Of The Books & Findings Of Those Before Gibson, Gibson Himself And Others Doubting About The Origin Of Islam And Place Of The Sacred Mosque

  1. Quranic description and also Hadith description of “Mecca” do not match with the city of Mecca of Saudi Arabia.
  2. The Holy City is called “Becca” in Quran Surah Ale Imran 3:95. And we can find Becca also in Bible Psalm 84. And that Becca is not Mecca but Petra.
  3. Prophet Muhammad actually migrated from Petra to Medina from North to South instead of Mecca to Medina (South to North). This is also obvious from the pattern their enemies attacked in almost all the battles fought near Medina. As is in the case of Uhad which is on the northern side of Medina and also “Battle of Trench” the trench was made on the northern side of Medina.
  4. Petra would be more logical instead of Mecca as a city to be conquered by Muhammad PBUH in 630AD. Muslim armies marched all the way from Medina north to fight at Muta in southern Jordan. Did then over 1200 kilometres back across the burning Nafud Desert to take Mecca? Wouldn’t it make more sense if the Holy City was in Petra instead of being south of Medina?
  5. Quran describes Mecca as the “Mother of Cities” while Mecca is absent from almost all the old maps of the World. Thus was not a prominent place at that time, while Petra fulfils this requirement and title.
  6. Petra also appears in older maps as a trade route while Mecca does not & also Mecca’s location is not appropriate to be a hub or even part of any trade route.
  7. Quran describes foliage, vegetation and cattle fields while Mecca doesn’t have all this.
  8. The “Saee” “سعى” of Safa & Marwa a ritual of Hajj & Umrah is described as taking days to complete but it’s just a quick task to complete and the distance is not much between the small rocks.
  9. Quran is full of reference to the people of northern Arabia. People of Ad and the people of Thamud all dwelt in northern Arabia in the Petra region.
  10. Gibson claims that there is no record of Quranic manuscript found before the 8th century and thus they assert that even Quran was not revealed on Muhammad but written lately, and they conspire Umayyad’s caliph Abd al Malik’s role in it.
  11. Gibson by narrating Ibn Zayd’s move to Mecca mentioned in Al Tabari’s history, suggests that this may be the point of relocation of Petra to Mecca
  12. Almost all of the early mosques built after the death of prophet Muhammad during the first century Hijrah have their Qibals facing Petra, not Mecca. Until the early eighth century, they all point to Petra and from the time of the Abbasids to Mecca. In between is, what Gibson & others call, a time of confusion.
  13. Gibson & opponents of Islam raise questions that why nothing wrote down about Muhammad or Islam in the 600’s and 700’s. For almost two hundred years nothing was written down about this new religion, Muslims and about Prophet Muhammad.

In His Book “Quranic Geography” Page 379, Gibson Summarized His Findings In These Words

“The only conclusion I come to is that Islam was founded in northern Arabia in the city of Petra. It was there that the first parts of the Qur’ān were revealed before the faithful were forced to flee to Medina. Thus, the prophet Muḥammad never visited Mecca, nor did any of the first four rightly guided caliphs. Mecca was never a centre of worship in ancient times, and was not part of the ancient trade routes in Arabia. All down through history, the Arabs made pilgrimages to the holy sites in the city of Petra, which had many ancient temples and churches. It was in Petra that 350 idols were retrieved from the rubble after an earthquake and set up in a central courtyard. It was in Petra that Muḥammad directed the destruction of all the idols except one, the Black Stone. This stone remained in the Ka’ba in Petra until it was later taken by the followers of Ibn al-Zubayr deep into Arabia to the village of Mecca for safekeeping from the Umayyad armies. And today it is to this stone that Muslims face, rather than to their holy city and the qibla that Muḥammad gave them”

REFUTATION OF CLAIMS OF GIBSON, PATRICIA, JAY SMITH & OTHER’S

Most of the points Gibson raised are answered below, few points he raised are arguments from silence or better I say arguments from ignorance. His claim that Mecca was not mentioned as a city in early historical records is not only wrong but even if we take such type of arguments as true then they are just arguments from silence, which is a well-known fallacy argument. A conclusion that is based on the absence of statements in historical documents, rather than their presence. The absence of proof does not equate to proof of absence.

BECCA IS NOT MECCA

٩٦ إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَيْتٍ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ لَلَّذِي بِبَكَّةَ مُبَارَكًا وَهُدًى لِلْعَالَمِينَ
٩٧ فِيهِ آيَاتٌ بَيِّنَاتٌ مَقَامُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ ۖ وَمَنْ دَخَلَهُ كَانَ آمِنًا ۗ وَلِلَّهِ عَلَى النَّاسِ حِجُّ الْبَيْتِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلًا ۚ وَمَنْ كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَنِيٌّ عَنِ الْعَالَمِينَ

Indeed, the first House established for mankind was that at Bakkah – blessed and a guidance for the worlds.
In it are clear signs the standing place of Abraham. And whoever enters it shall be safe. And to Allah from the people is a pilgrimage to the House – for whoever is able to find thereto a way. But whoever disbelieves – then indeed, Allah is free from the need of the worlds. Surah Ale Imran 3:96-97

Gibson also says that Surah Ale Imran verse 96 mentions “Bakkah” not Mecca and that Muslims have no proper logic and explanation translating or considering “Bakkah” as Mecca. He says that Bacca actually is an ancient Semitic word that means to weep or lament as is the Valley of Weeping or the Valley of Tears mentioned in Pslam 84:1-6. He continues and says that because of the meaning of this word Bacca it is most likely associated with Petra as there are a number of tragic events that took place at Petra including the following major earthquakes in 363AD, 551AD and 713 AD.

1 How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty! 2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. 3 Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, LORD Almighty, my King and my God. 4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. 5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. 6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. Psalms 84:1-6

Image showing Change of Arabic Word From Becca To Mecca
My reply to this would be that Surah Fath chapter 48 verses 24-25 show a direct connection between Mecca and Masjid al Harram, but because Gibson goes further that this particular verse of Quran is intentionally altered later in the Abbasids period by just changing the “ب” of Bakkah to “م” of Mecca as in attached picture taken from his video.

I will not argue with him on this sheer nonsense as I know the purpose is only to raise so much dust that no one could see anything. And thus creating doubts about the very origin of the Islamic religion.

٢٤ وَهُوَ الَّذِي كَفَّ أَيْدِيَهُمْ عَنْكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ عَنْهُمْ بِبَطْنِ مَكَّةَ مِنْ بَعْدِ أَنْ أَظْفَرَكُمْ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرًا
٢٥ هُمُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَصَدُّوكُمْ عَنِ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ

He it is Who restrained their hands from you, and your hands from them in the valley of Makkah, even though He had made you victorious against them. Allah was watching all that you did.
They are the ones who disbelieved and obstructed you from al-Masjid al-Haram …… (Surah Fath 48:24-25)

Although the above verses of Surah Fath are adequately enough for us Muslims to counter his argument. But as for Gibson & others whose actual mission is not only limited to Petra & Mecca but to discredit and raise questions on the authenticity of the Quran and on the Prophethood of Muhammad Pbuh, thus they need special treatment in their own way. First of all for Gibson’s assertions to be true several things have to play out. One is, we need to prove that Petra was also known as the valley of weeping secondly the Quran would have to be shown that it has been tampered. In both cases he failed, he just assumed everything.

Now Muslims opinion differs as to what exactly is the root word of Bakkah. Some say that it is from (ب ک ی) Ba-Kaf-Ya and some say that it is from root (ب ک ک) Ba-Kaf-Kaf. But let me tell you that the Miracle of the Quran is that whatever root word you take for “Bakkah” it fulfils the meaning and logic of why God used it for describing the Holy place. I will show you with logic and common sense that no other city other than Mecca pass on this criteria. Please bear with me.

Animation showing woman praying lamenting
If we take the first root (ب ک ی) Ba-Kaf-Ya then it means Lamenting, Weeping, Shedding of tears, The passionate expression of grief & sorrow, Weeping by reason of tenderness of heart or compassion, Shedding of tears by reason of lamentation. Now let’s look at the 2nd option available which is (ب ک ک) Ba-Kaf-Kaf this word (بَكَّ) means jostling, pressing or crowding, any crowding(or crowds), competition, heaping, piling together, cancellation/dissolution/breaking, it also means pounding or crushing, Breaking of the neck. It even means lacking of water.

Now let me tell you one interesting thing that In Surah Ale Imran the word “بِبَكَّةَ” is not a proper noun but an adjective-noun. You can take it also as a proper noun reason is that sometimes the adjective/attribute and certain characteristics of a thing become so famous that it becomes its name/proper noun. Now, this is the miracle of the Quran that this word Bakkah whether you take it’s one root word or the other, fits as a Jewel on a ring, only on the city of Mecca in this whole world.

Which other city in this world fulfils and falls on these characteristics and meanings. God, in a very simple way, in this verse telling us that Indeed, the very first House established for mankind is that which is in this place of Lamentation, Which is in this place of passionate expression of grief & sorrow, Which is in this place of weeping and shedding of tears, Which is in this place of crowding, Which is in this place of jostling (see during Hajj this happens quite often that your elbows rub & touch with others elbows and arms).

As for Lacking water, breaking of the neck: obviously, it’s lacking of water. Mecca is a desert and the breaking of the neck attributed to the fact that anyone who’s tried to invade Mecca, any tyrant who wanted to attack Mekkah was abolished & his neck was broken or humbled.

Animation of Tawaf around Kaaba
God’s words are universal, valid for all times. Gibson and his allies should think that they are considering Petra as Holy city also because of this word Bacca’s meaning as to weep or lament. Just on assumption that because of 2-3 earthquake people of Petra would have cried and wept and that’s why this word may refer to Petra. My question is for how long, maximum of 200-250 years. While look at Mecca for centuries people are coming every day there in multitudes in crowds and lamenting, asking forgiveness from God, expressing their grief & sorrow and shedding tears.

I leave on the common sense of people reading this article that which city fulfils and passes the test of Time- Petra or Mecca?

BAKKAH IS IN JERUSALEM

Otherwise Why Previous Prophets Never Visited Mecca?

Dome of the Rock
Gibson also says that if “Bakkah” is Mecca and built by Prophet Abraham then as mentioned in next verse 97, why none of the prophets from Abraham’s progeny ever visited Mecca as there is no historical, biblical or Quranic record of it. While they should be visiting as this was made obligatory to all human beings as per verse 97. Not only Gibson but also some Muslim scholars think that “Bakkah” in 3:96 actually referring to God’s house in Jerusalem.

Picture showing Bright Light From Horizon
Let me clear here few things: the verse 3:96 clearly says that “إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَيْتٍ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ” “Indeed, the first House established for mankind”, it doesn’t say that “The Only House” It is mentioned as the first house and the word ‘Indeed’ before that is to emphasis on the mere fact that people of the book, Jews and Christians should listen clearly that there pride on themselves as the chosen people of God and as the Leader of this world is not true. The fact is that well before them God had also sown a seed of religion of true monotheism in this area of Hejaz through their forefather Abraham, and this is actually the first house ever built on earth for a true monotheistic worship of God. You can clearly see that the context of these verses also indicating a discourse to the people of the book (Jews).

A person praying
Now further you can see that when God ask for a Pilgrimage to the House then it is a general commandment to mankind to visit God’s house. It has nothing to do with “which one”. Not only this it also gives relaxation by saying – for whoever is able (afford/manage) to find thereto a way. Quran is such a miraculous book that it is valid for all times. So first it says that this House is the first House of God, then it says indirectly that there are others also. Now please understand the source of all religions is only one God, The Almighty, my Lord and your Lord. With the evolution of mankind, God kept on sending His guidance in different times as per the changing requirements of human evolution and civilization. Then He completed it and stopped sending further revelations. In the Revelations and Scriptures He sent, everything was the same regarding God Himself and His Kingdom (This whole Universe), the differences mainly were in the moral teachings necessary as per that particular time frame of human evolution until that time when it reached to a certain stage of completion.

Image showing All Religions Sacred Houses
Now before Quran and Muhammad’s prophethood, the Pilgrimage of God’s house in any major vicinity area like Jerusalem was obligatory for those who could afford it. But after Muhammad’s prophethood all human beings actually should become one nation and therefore the only ultimate place of Hajj would only be Kaaba in Mecca. It does not mean that other God’s Houses will be abandoned. No, but now the main event of Pilgrimage after prophet Muhammad’s prophethood and God’s final revelation would be Mecca. This is the reason why previous prophets not visited Mecca as this area at that time was designated for Bani Ismail, others could visit but not mandatory on them.

BATTLE FOR MEDINA

Attack From The Northern Side

Gibson and his allies also claim that in almost all the battles for Medina Prophet’s enemies attacked Medina from its North Side. They thus reassert that Prophet Muhammad actually migrated from Petra to Medina from North to South instead of Mecca to Medina. And this is the reason why his enemies attacked from the North as they had to come from Petra. Also in the Battle of Trench, the trench was made on the northern side of Medina.

My reply is that in older times it was a normal practice of invaders to attack a city from its weakest side. Gibson & allies ask why the Muslims dug a ditch on Medina’s northern side to defend against Meccans coming from the south. The answer is because the northern side was the only one unprotected from cavalry attack while all other sides have either rocky terrains or orchards.

Please have a look at this drawing showing the Trench Battlefield which itself is quite enough to prove the fallacy of all the assumptions Gibson and others are claiming.

PLEASE DRAG THE HANDLE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PICTURE TO SEE TWO MAPS

Battle MapCurrent Map

In the Battle of Trench, as a matter of fact, not all troops came from the south. Some troops came from the northern side. From the north came Jews of Bani Nadir and Bani Qainuqa who after their banishment from Medinah, had settled in the area of Khyber. To the south of Medina, there were many gardens so that it could not be attacked from that side. To the east and southwestern side of Medina were lava rocks which were untraversable for a large army. The attack, therefore, could be made only from the eastern and western sides of the Uhud, which the Muslims secured by digging a trench. Their enemies were not at all aware that they would have to face the trench outside Medina. Thus, they had to lay a long siege in winter for which they had not come prepared.

Also look at the animation below, the route troops might have taken because of the rocky terrain in-between Mecca & Medina and to arrive at the the eastern and western sides of the Uhud they had to arrive from above the city, that is from the north of Medina.

If whatever I said above is not true, then my counter question to Gibson & his allies is that why during the siege of Medina the allied forces did not try to attack from somewhere else and why they kept waiting there in severe weather conditions (Assuming they came from Petra from North thus they faced the Trench side…but what forced them to keep sitting there and not attacking from the south side of Medina) considering it was a very small city that time and going to its opposite side should not be much travelling.

Again the purpose of Gibson, Jay Smith and their allies is only is to raise so much dust that no one could see anything. And thus creating doubts about the very origin of the Islamic religion.

CLICK THE IMAGE TO OPEN IN BIGGER SIZE

Animation on Map showing Mecca Madina Terrain & Route
Mecca To Medina Satellite Image Showing Terrain & Route

The Order Of The Battle For Mecca

Here Gibson comes out with strange reasoning and almost like an acrobat tried to prove Petra as the Holy City of Islam thru totally irrelevant and absurd logic. He picked three expeditions of the Muslim army and thru a nonsense sort of reasoning established that Petra would be more logical instead of Mecca as a city to be conquered by Muhammad PBUH in 630AD. The reasoning he gave along with the diagram is mentioned below and then you will find my answer to this.

He says,

Consider these two options. First, we know the Muslim armies march all the way from Medina north to fight at Mu’tah in southern Jordan. Did then over 1200 kilometres back across the burning Nafud Desert to take Mecca? Wouldn’t it make more sense if the Holy City was in Petra instead of being south of Medina?

Map showing journey of Prophet for Mecca Conquest

Now let me reply to this, the timeline of all three battles is that in May/June 628 Battle of Khyber, then Sep 629 battle of Mu’tah then in Dec 629/Jan630 conquest of Mecca happened. Gibson looked very naive when he mentioned under the left side map “Then Muhammad decides to take Mecca, and marches all the way back south”. I said “naive” because even a school level student of Islamic history knows that there is a difference between Ghazwas & Sariyas. An expedition in which the Prophet personally participated is called a Ghazwa and the one he ordered but didn’t personally participate in it and rather appointed others to lead is called a Sariyah. Battle of Mu’tah was A Sariya led by a companion of the Prophet.

They are different expeditions sent at different times reacting to the events as they happened. All battles were reactions towards events that were unfolding and not planned as Gibson thought. Further Prophet was not with the army for the battle of Mu’tah, while for Mecca Conquest he was with them. So technically what Gibson assumed is totally on the wrong foundation as Muhammad did not attack Mecca all the way from Mauta but he attacked Mecca from Medina as he never left Medina after the Battle of Khyber in May 628. He continuously stayed in Medina during the in-between time and not left Medina even for a single campaign or expedition.

Again the purpose of Gibson is only to raise so much dust that no one could see anything. And thus creating doubts about the very origin of the Islamic religion.

Change Of Qibla Commandment

Please have a look at the animation and the slides below which are quite enough to prove the fallacy of all the assumptions Gibson and others are claiming. I presented here two scenarios in line with the history of Islam and the commandment of the Quran regarding Qibla direction change. Gibson and his fellow also accept that this Qibla change happened.

Some Muslims also have confusion as to why this happened, for them also let me explain. From the very beginning, Prophet knew the sanctity of these two places Masjid Al Haram & Jerusalem. So in Mecca, he used to pray in a way that mostly he would be facing Kaaba Masjid Al Haram and at the same time facing Masjid Aqsa Jerusalem. In Mecca he could face both, but when he moved to Medina that became impossible as Medina is in-between both these places. If he faces towards one place his back would be towards the other. Personally, he had more affiliation with Masjid Al Haram Mecca as this was built by his Grand Grandfather Ibrahim and Ismail PBUH. He was hesitant to forsake Aqsa Mosque and turn only towards Mecca while there were Idols of polytheists still there. Prophet kept praying & waiting for a clear guidance from God on this and then after 16-17 months of his migration to Medina he got this revelation of God. This not only solved the issue but also marked and indicated the end of Imamate Of Jews and the coming of this status of Imamate and leadership of humanity to the Muslims.

Animation showing Qibla Change Scenarios

CLICK THE IMAGE TO OPEN IN BIGGER SIZE