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PETRA VS MECCA

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 MeccaI 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 MeccaMy 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 lamentingIf 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 KaabaGod’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 RockGibson 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 HorizonLet 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 HousesNow 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 MapBattle 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

Now I assume two scenarios one by taking Original Qibla as God’s House/Scared Mosque in Mecca and the other scenario as God’s House in Petra. The interim Qibla in both these scenarios is Jerusalem as accepted by Gibson and his allies. The only dispute is on either Petra Or Mecca was the original Qibla. So starting from these two scenarios and keeping in mind the Quranic verses for Changing back the Qibla direction to the Masjid Al Haram the Sacred Mosque, as quoted below

١٤٤ قَدْ نَرَىٰ تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَاءِ ۖ فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةً تَرْضَاهَا ۚ فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ ۚ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنْتُمْ فَوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ ۗ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ لَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ ۗ وَمَا اللَّهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا يَعْمَلُونَ

We have certainly seen the turning of your face, [O Muhammad], toward the heaven, and We will surely turn you to a qiblah with which you will be pleased. So turn your face toward al-Masjid al-Haram. And wherever you [believers] are, turn your faces toward it [in prayer]. Indeed, those who have been given the Scripture well know that it is the truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do. Surah Baqarah 2:144

In the first Scenario we consider that the original Qibla was in Mecca, the prophet mostly used to pray both towards Kaaba & Jerusalem direction or simply in the direction of Jerusalem. When he migrated to Medina this continued in the direction of Jerusalem as I discussed above.

Now here in Medina, the situation becomes interesting when we consider the 2nd scenario along with Qibla direction change commandment as in Surah Baqarah 2:144. You can clearly see that the Quran says “turn your face towards the Sacred Mosque” which is in agreement in the case of Mecca as it literally needs a turning of direction from Jerusalem to Mecca but in the case of 2nd scenario we assumed Petra as the original place of Kaaba how could this be logically convincible. At those times when there was no GPS coordinate systems in practice, leaving in Medina and facing Jerusalem is the same as facing Petra. They both are in the same direction from Medina that is north and also in the same vicinity. There is no need for any request & prayer of the Prophet to God nor there is any need for God’s commandment to intervene in this and solving this issue.

Again the purpose of Gibson, Jay Smith and allies 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.

Mecca, Mother Of Cities? But absent from Maps & Trade Routes

٧ وَكَذَٰلِكَ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لِتُنْذِرَ أُمَّ الْقُرَىٰ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا وَتُنْذِرَ يَوْمَ الْجَمْعِ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ ۚ فَرِيقٌ فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَفَرِيقٌ فِي السَّعِيرِ

And thus We have revealed to you an Arabic Quran that you may warn the Mother of Cities and those around it and warn of the Day of Assembly, about which there is no doubt. A party will be in Paradise and a party in the Blaze. Surah Shura 42:7

Then they raise the objection that the Quran describes Mecca as “Mother of Cities” while Mecca is absent from almost all the old maps of the World. Thus was not a prominent place while Petra fulfils this requirement and title. Petra also appears in older maps as a trade route and was a big trading hub while Mecca does not & also Mecca’s location is not appropriate to be a hub or even part of any trade route.

Arabian Peninsula Old Trade Routes

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This particular objection actually first raised by Patricia Crone that Mecca was a very unlikely place from which to build a trading empire. My reply to that is all the written material about Mecca’s significance in trade is not from the Quran. It might be based on traditions and hadith, which were compiled many hundred years after the advent of the Quran. Muslims have segregated hadiths and not every hadith is considered authentic. Some are considered as “Zaif” weak and some are false especially in cases where they contradict with the Quran. Many times these Ahadith are decorative and exaggerated. Moreover, hadith related to the magnificence and splendour of Mecca and about its agriculture and greenery are greatly in disagreement also from each other. Quran itself mentioned Mecca as a barren land as I mentioned in the section below and mostly mentioned that the main source of provision for Mecca is thru the activity of visits of God’s house by the people around. Trade is just a part-time profession of a few of them like we also know from history that Muhammad’s grand father’s major responsibility was as custodian of Kaaba. Meccan’s were entrusted with religious services from which they significantly Earned their provisions. No Islamic text claims that Mecca was a trade hub where people from all over the world used to come for trading. It is just that the Meccan’s go to other places for trading to get their needed items.

٥٧ وَقَالُوا إِنْ نَتَّبِعِ الْهُدَىٰ مَعَكَ نُتَخَطَّفْ مِنْ أَرْضِنَا ۚ أَوَلَمْ نُمَكِّنْ لَهُمْ حَرَمًا آمِنًا يُجْبَىٰ إِلَيْهِ ثَمَرَاتُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ رِزْقًا مِنْ لَدُنَّا وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

And they say, “If we were to follow the guidance with you, we would be swept from our land.” Have we not established for them a safe sanctuary to which are brought the fruits of all things as provision from Us? But most of them do not know. (Surah Qasas 28:57)

Then they say that Quran mentions Mecca as أُمَّ الْقُرَىٰ Mother of Cities so how could this place be the mother of cities with not much significance proven from history before and at times of Prophet Muhammad PBUH. This argument is also quite shallow as what history proved is against them. Gibson and his fellow just talking about few years of the past before Islam and the early days of Islam while from that time till now which city fulfils and passes the test of Time- Petra or Mecca? Which city meets this criteria to be called “Mother of Cities” Petra Or Mecca?

Kaaba Scared mosque Aerial ViewNo one knows about Petra while Mecca is the central place for billions of people for 1500 years. God does not look and see a particular time He sees all the events and happenings in past & future. Quran is full of such instances, that whenever God speaks, that thing either happened at once or it implies as to be destined to happen, coz it is intended, commanded and decided by God. Go and read  verses from the Quran where God says that we established Joseph in the land while at that time he was just a slave. But God here talked about the seed which was sown and had all the potential to become a powerful tree. Same as in the case of Abraham when God says that I will make you and the righteous among your progeny as the Imam & leader of this world. At that time Abraham was an old man and his wife was a barren old lady. The same goes as with the case of Adam when God said that we taught Adam the names of all things (Knowledge) that is the potential that God put in the human race to which all other creatures would surrender. Please read Quran Miracle: Adams Knowledge & Vicegerency

Here I am trying to counter them with the simplest method with logic and common sense. For scholarly debates on archaeology, they have already received many counter-arguments from other people of their field.

As also mentioned above these are such sort of arguments from Gibson which 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.

Gibson and others, brought proofs from a small number of traditions and Ahadith to prove their point but at the same time, they do not admit and accept a hundred times more traditions and Ahadith that mentions Mecca as the city of Sacred House. Again 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.

Mecca Had Greenery & Agriculture

Animation of Plant (Green Flower)Then their objection is on the geological features of Mecca. They say that Quran frequently mentions various herbs, fruits and lush green lands either related to this world or as in the depiction of Paradise. How come that mention sound reasonable if the audience was of Mecca where none of these present and, thus must be for the habitants of Petra. The answer is people of Mecca even in times of Prophet PBUH were not in any way limited and bound to the limits and borders of Mecca or even Hejaz. They travel for trade and were well aware of various types of fruits and vegetation.

Furthermore, Quran’s audience is not limited to Mecca as is evident by the Hijrah/migration of prophet and his settlement in Medina and also by the mere fact that the Quran itself says that this revelation of God is not limited to some specific time and region but its message is universal and for all of humanity. To be very clear even Quran’s direct audience was all residents of Hejaz and not only of Mecca.

Medina is quite green and full of agricultural lands. Also, the city of Taif that Muhammad Pbuh went to seek refuge before his Hijrah to Medina is quite different from Mecca and had agriculture and vegetation. Both these places are quite near to Mecca and Meccan’s were well aware of all the fruits and vegetation mentioned in Quran thru these nearby cities and by travelling to distant regions and countries like Syria during their trade expeditions.

The plea Gibson & others give for Petra also not logically correct as even Petra is not in any way an agricultural region. It receives a minimal amount of annual rain and as also mentioned by Gibson, the Nabataeans (early habitants of Petra) build dams and water channels to control and preserve this small amount of rain for later use. But their water systems were destroyed by an earthquake in 363 AD well before prophet Muhammad’s lifetime.

PETRA DRONE VIEW SHOWING FAR LESS NATURAL GREENERY THAN TAIF CITY WHICH IS NEARBY MECCA

Petra Drone View
Taif City Aerial View

In his video the sacred city, Gibson also quoted a portion of a hadith from Bukhari book 56 Narrated by Abu Huraira about a Muslim prisoner Khubaib-al-Ansari and his situation as depicted by the daughter of Al-Harith, whose brother purchased Khubaib as a slave.

“By Allah, I never saw a prisoner better than Khubaib. By Allah, one day I saw him eating of a bunch of grapes in his hand while he was chained in irons, and there was no fruit at that time in Mecca.”

Gibson goes on creating a whole scenario from these words although it simply means that there are no fruits in Mecca. This could only happen in a non-agricultural city of old times when there was no organized supply-chain and imports management system. That simply means that the stores & markets were empty. Furthermore, Taif is very near to Mecca and it has everything from crops to fruits especially grapes. So Gibson for your kind information the grapes & fruits could have also come from Taif. It is just 90 Km from Mecca the same distance that Gibson considers so small that he assumed a morning and an evening trip possible from Petra to the ruins of Sodom Valley, in case of proving his point for Petra’s favour.

Taif City Mountains & Greenery

TAIF CITY MOUNTAINS AND GREENERY

Dan Gibson also relies on few other Ahadith & traditions to prove his claim that the greenery and vegetation mentioned in the Quran specifically related to the birthplace of Prophet Muhammad (acc. to him Petra) and not to the nearby regions. He even picked a saying of the father of Prophet Muhammad PBUH. He should be aware that Muslims have segregated traditions, Ahadith, and not every hadith is considered authentic. Some are considered as “Zaif” weak and some are false especially in cases where they contradict with the Quran. He claims from these ahadith that the city where the House of God located was a lush valley that is described as having trees and grass and fruits and grapes and fields and streams.

This is completely contradictory to the Quran. Now see how does God describe the location of the sacred House in the Quran Surah Ibrahim verse 37, where prophet Ibrahim praying to God when he settled his son Ishmail and wife Hajrah in Mecca.

٣٧ رَبَّنَا إِنِّي أَسْكَنْتُ مِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِي بِوَادٍ غَيْرِ ذِي زَرْعٍ عِنْدَ بَيْتِكَ الْمُحَرَّمِ رَبَّنَا لِيُقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ فَاجْعَلْ أَفْئِدَةً مِنَ النَّاسِ تَهْوِي إِلَيْهِمْ وَارْزُقْهُمْ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَشْكُرُونَ

“Our Lord! I have made some of my offspring settle in a barren valley near Your Sacred House! Our Lord! I did so that they may establish Prayer. So make the hearts of people affectionately inclined to them, and provide them with fruits for their sustenance that they may give thanks. (Surah Ibrahim 14:37)

Mecca Has Fruits As Provision- Surah Qasas 28:57

Fruit Basket Animation They also take the below verse from Surah Al Qasas as a piece of supporting evidence for their claim as this verse states that in Mecca fruits of all things come. This is again a gross misunderstanding of the verse. First of all the verse does not mention here “Fruits” that we eat but “the benefits” of all things. In Arabic, the word “ثَمَرَ “ actually means Reward, Wealth or Benefit especially in this context it means benefits of all things reach to Mecca as provision for its inhabitants. Fruit is also called fruit because we get it after labour and hard work done on the land. Now we all know that even before the birth of Prophet Muhammad PBUH till now people from Hejaz and all around from distant places reach to Mecca for Pilgrimage which also brings wealth, trade and much economical provision for its inhabitants.

٥٧ وَقَالُوا إِنْ نَتَّبِعِ الْهُدَىٰ مَعَكَ نُتَخَطَّفْ مِنْ أَرْضِنَا ۚ أَوَلَمْ نُمَكِّنْ لَهُمْ حَرَمًا آمِنًا يُجْبَىٰ إِلَيْهِ ثَمَرَاتُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ رِزْقًا مِنْ لَدُنَّا وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

And they say, “If we were to follow the guidance with you, we would be swept from our land.” Have we not established for them a safe sanctuary to which are brought the fruits of all things as provision from Us? But most of them do not know. Surah Qasas 28:57

Mecca Was Near To The Valley Of Sodom- Surah Saffat 37: 137

They also take the below verse from the Quran pointing in relation to the story of Prophet Lut Pbuh as a piece of supporting evidence and claim that Muhammad’s audience was living close enough to the ancient city of Sodom. As one cannot pass by that place morning and evening from a distant place like Mecca which is more than a thousand kilometres from the Dead Sea region.

Sodom & Gomorah RuinsFirst of all, again I need to mention that Muhammad’s audience is not at all limited to the residents of Mecca but of the whole Hejaz from the very beginning and also Quran’s message as the last revelation, not at all limited to any specific time and place. But even then for the sake of argument how can then the people of Petra (as per Gibson’s assumption) can pass by the ruins of Sodom morning and evening while the direct distance (not the actual travelling distance, which is much more than this) between Petra and the region where the ancient city of Sodom likely be is around 86 Km. There were no modern vehicles at that time that could make this possible.

This verse of the Quran only refers to the going and coming back of caravans and travellers from their journeys and passing by that place sometime in the early part of the day and sometimes in the latter part of the day.

١٣٧ وَإِنَّكُمْ لَتَمُرُّونَ عَلَيْهِمْ مُصْبِحِينَ
١٣٨ وَبِاللَّيْلِ ۗ أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ

And indeed, you pass by them in the morning
And at night. Then will you not use reason? Surah Saffat 37: 137-138

Safa Marwa Height & Distance

Gibson raised doubts on Mecca also by questioning Safa & Marwa’s height and their in-between distance. He based his claim mainly on two things. He says that 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. The trip between Ṣafa and Marwa was so strenuous that some people could not do the seven crossings in one day. This he tried to prove thru the following narration:

The author of Al-Mughni observes:

“Aḥmad says there is no harm in delaying the Sa’i after performing ṭawaf until one is rested, or postponing it until evening. ’Aṭa’ and Al-Ḥasan also see no harm in someone making ṭawaf early in the day and postponing the Sa’i between Ṣafa and Marwah until evening. Al-Qāsim and Sa’īd bin Jubair followed this, because the continuity of Sa’i is, as such, not a condition, much less the continuity of ṭawāf and Sa’i. Sa’īd bin Manṣūr reported that Saudah, the wife of ’Urwah bin al-Zubair performed Sai in between Ṣafa and Marwah and because she was a big and heavy woman, she completed it in three days. (Fiqh-us-Sunnah 5:88a)

Animation of man climbing a mountainSecondly, Gibson states that Safa and Marwa were tall mountains, that needed “climbing”. He says that Safa Marwa in Mecca are just two small rocks inside the mosque building and they do not look like mountain that needs climbing. Also, there is no way to climb these rocks, so pilgrims no longer climb them. This he tried to prove thru the below hadith from Bukhari volume 6, book 60 no. 495. He also added that Petra has two mountains exactly as mentioned in traditions of Muslims and a road leading directly from one mountain to another for Tawaf between the two mountains. He says that since Abraham wandered throughout the mountains, from Israel down to Egypt, it would not come as a surprise that Abraham and Ishmael may have stopped in the Petra Valley and built some sort of altar or structure there to worship the Lord. The Quranic accounts fit the Petra valley far better than the barren Mecca valley in Saudi Arabia.

Bukhari 6:495

When the Verse: ‘And warn your tribe of near kindred.’ (26:214) was revealed. Allah’s Apostle went out, and when he had ascended As-Safa mountain, he shouted, “O Sabahah!” The people said, “Who is that?” “Then they gathered around him, whereupon he said, “Do you see? If I inform you that cavalrymen are proceeding up the side of this mountain, will you believe me? They said, “We have never heard you telling a lie.” Then he said, “I am a plain warner to you of a coming severe punishment.” Abū Lahab said, “May you perish! You gathered us only for this reason?” Then Abū Lahab went away. So the Sūrat: “Perish the hands of Abū Lahab!” was revealed.

Now let me dissect Gibson’s claims one by one. Please keep in mind that Gibson used to quote that all his claims and findings should be taken all together and they all together support his Petra theory. This is the reason that I am replying to every single issue he raised regardless of how absurd it is.

Image showing Kaaba Tawaf and Safa MarwaStarting from the first claim “The trip between Ṣafa and Marwa was so strenuous that people could not do the seven crossings in one day” First of all no tradition or hadith says this fact. It is just that Gibson tried to twist the words in favour of his claims. All these above-mentioned traditions and sayings of Fiqh-us-Sunnah, just mentioning things only in one perspective and that is the issue of “Continuity of Sa’i Between Safa and Marwah” and if it is permitted to take a break or not?. The main cause of discussing this issue is not that human beings cannot do this ritual in one go but of the sheer fact that city of Mecca is very hot and they were discussing about making ’Tawaf’ early in the day and postponing the Sa’i until evening to avoid the peak hours of sun. For health issues, one can also take a rest. As for Saudah, wife of Urwah bin al Zubair who completed it in three days (because she was a big and heavy woman), one should not be surprised reading this as all of us may know some people who get tired even by walking few yards.. few meters. The distance between Safa and Marwa is approximately 450 m (1,480 ft), therefore, seven trips back and forth amount to roughly 3.6 km. The narration already saying that she was a big and heavy woman, so she just took the advantage of relaxation and decided to roughly travel 1.2 km a day. Also keep in mind, that time period, the extreme climate of Mecca and the unavailability of all the modern facilities that we have nowadays.

As for the prophet performing Sa’i sometime on his ride, that was only because of the fact that when the overcrowding increased and he found that the people wanted to know more about their religion, he rode his mount so that they could see him and ask him and can distinguish him from the crowd. This reason already mentioned in the Islamic books.

Man standing on the peak of a mountainNow let’s come to Gibson’s other claim that Safa and Marwa were tall mountains, that needed “climbing”. I do not know how he assumed this and how he calculated the height that would be appropriate for verifying Safa and Marwa authenticity. Actually, this argument goes against his claim. He supported his claim thru a hadith where the prophet climbed on Safa mountain and talked to his tribe. For this particular situation, I ask your common sense that what type of height you think is suitable for a person to converse with his audience. A tall mountain or a small Rock. Every sane person will say a small rock. How can you communicate if you climb on a tall mountain and without a modern system of sound amplification convey your sound to people below in the valley? Does that make sense Mr. Gibson & Mr. Jay Smith!

Jabal Abu Qubays is located to the east of Al-Masjid Al-Haram, in the right hand side of the photograph. Jabal al-Nour can be seen in the background. Image Wikipedia

Also, Gibson either did not bother to see the Arabic text of the hadith or he intentionally skipped it. The English translation mentioned Safa as a mountain “The (prophet) had ascended As-Safa mountain” while the Arabic texts doest not say this “خَرَجَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم حَتَّى صَعِدَ الصَّفَا فَهَتَفَ” which is “Allah’s Apostle went out, and when he had ascended As-Safa, he shouted” so nowhere the Arabic text mentions Safa as the mountain. But even if it would be mentioned as a mountain, then my explanation would be that Safa is a small mountain located at the bottom of the Abu Qubais Mountain, about 130 meters southeast of the Kabah and that explains the next part of the hadith where prophet exactly says “Do you see? If I inform you that cavalrymen are proceeding up the side of this mountain, will you believe me?” Now it looks like that the Safa mountain was big enough that people cannot see the other side and thats why Prophet was asking this question. But here the mountain that Prophet was talking about was Abu Qubais mountain. Safa is at the bottom of the Abu Qubais Mountain so the prophet was just asking his tribesmen “أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِنْ أَخْبَرْتُكُمْ أَنَّ خَيْلاً تَخْرُجُ مِنْ سَفْحِ هَذَا الْجَبَلِ أَكُنْتُمْ مُصَدِّقِيَّ” look at the words “هَذَا الْجَبَلِ” just a common-sense matter that asking someone standing on a rock exactly in the bottom of a tall mountain (Abu Qubais) the other side of which is not visible and questioning his audience “Do you see? If I inform you that cavalrymen are proceeding up the side of this mountain, will you believe me?”. Does it now make sense Mr Gibson & Mr Jay Smith!

Quran’s Focus On Northern Arabia

Gibson also says that Quran mentions Ad and Thamud many times. The people of Ad (Edomites) and the people of Thamud (Nabataeans) all dwelt in northern Arabia in the Petra region. He wrote that there had been three times in the past when Arabia was great. First time in 2nd millennium BC under the tribal confederacy led by Edom, known as Ad. Second time around the 12 century BC under the leadership of the Midianites who oppressed and raided the settled peoples to the north. Third time around 200 BC – 200 AD, under the leadership of the Thamudic people who established what we know today as the Nabataean empire. Gibson asserted that they were all significant people in the minds of his listeners. Thus this leads us to believe that Muḥammad was addressing an audience in North Arabia, the homeland of Ishmael, Ad, Thamud, and Midian.

Now let me reply to all this. Quran is full of reference to the people of northern Arabia. Gibson himself mentioned that this Nabataean empire of Thamudic people controlled not only all of Arabia, but also lands all the way to Damascus in the north, and the entire Negev to the west. So this goes against his argument, as if this empire once controlled all of Arabia then it should be very relevant for people living in Mecca to discuss them as an example.

Quran is full of stories of past prophets and their nations for the purpose of teaching. It has nothing to do with the distance they happened to be from Mecca. Gibson admitted and mentioned in his book that the city of Medina was in the heartland of Midian which was Prophet Shuayb’s dwelling place. Now, look at what prophet Shuayb says in Surah Hud verse 11 below “the people of Lot are not from you far away”. So in this scenario, we are not dealing with Petra or Mecca but Medina & Midian but still prophet Shuayb talks about people of Lut as they are very near. The reason is simple it is just a normal way of conversation when the purpose of the talk is not geographical distances but moral lessons and examples from the deeds of past generations.

٨٩ وَيَا قَوْمِ لَا يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شِقَاقِي أَنْ يُصِيبَكُمْ مِثْلُ مَا أَصَابَ قَوْمَ نُوحٍ أَوْ قَوْمَ هُودٍ أَوْ قَوْمَ صَالِحٍ ۚ وَمَا قَوْمُ لُوطٍ مِنْكُمْ بِبَعِيدٍ

And O my people, let not [your] dissension from me cause you to be struck by that similar to what struck the people of Noah or the people of Hud or the people of Salih. And the people of Lot are not from you far away. Surah Hud 11:89

In Surah Ahqaf verse 21 Quran mentioned the location of people of Aad “وَاذْكُرْ أَخَا عَادٍ إِذْ أَنْذَرَ قَوْمَهُ بِالْأَحْقَافِ” “And mention, [O Muhammad], the brother of ‘Aad, when he warned his people in the [region of] al-Ahqaf” In Arabic Ahqaf is “Sand Dunes” or “the winding sand tracts”. So the area where they lived most probably would be in modern-day Saudi Arabia, Yemen or Oman. Most scholars are of the opinion that the Valley of Ahqaf was the name of the valley, located today in Yemen (again South of Arab)

In contrast to what Gibson thinks Quran’s focus is not only on Ad and Thamud but on almost all the nearby generations of various nations, their deeds and their end. From Adam, his sons to the mention of Abraham/Ibrahim, Issac/Ishaq, Jacob/Yaqub, Joseph/Yusuf, Moses/Musa, Solomon, John/Yahya, Jesus/Isa all stories are there in the Quran for moral and teaching purposes. Queen Saba in Solomon’s story is considered from the southern part of the Arabian peninsula. Modern historians identify Sheba with the South Arabian kingdom of Saba in present-day Yemen.

Look at the below verses of the Quran and see yourself that in one single verse Quran mentions people of Nuh, Ad, Thamud, Abraham and Midian and then in another verse Pharaoh and Thamud together and then Nuh, Ad and Pharaoh together, just as they belonged to one same locality or one geographical region. The only similarity Quran finds in them is not their geography or their demography but their deeds and transgression that they did towards God and His messengers. Hope it now makes sense… Mr Gibson & Mr Jay Smith!

٧٠ أَلَمْ يَأْتِهِمْ نَبَأُ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ قَو