New Book Release: Let The Stones Speak Download PDF

02 Who are Chad and Dan

Who are Chad and Dan?

Video Contents

We would like to introduce ourselves, Dan Gibson and Chad Doell, and explain to you how we came to work together on Let the Stones Speak.

Dan Gibson was raised and educated in Canada. He went to the Middle East as a young man, shortly after he was married, and he and his wife studied Arabic in Jordan.

Dan grew up in a home which had a deep interest in archaeology. Dan’s father subscribed to various archaeological journals to keep up with the latest developments in archaeology. Dan grew up reading a great deal of this material.

Given this interest, he struggled in his latter years of high school over whether he should pursue archaeology as a career. In the end, he pursued other interests, particularly questions about Arab and Muslim identity and worldview. So, he studied Arabic, lived in a number of different places in the Middle East, and tried to understand the culture around him.

During this time, Dan started to wonder about the directions of the qiblas of the very earliest mosques he would find as he travelled. Something seemed wrong. Dan did not want to study mosques, but, over time, identifying and wrestling with the problem of early Islamic qiblas became Dan’s central focus.

Chad Doell is also a Canadian who had the opportunity to spend most of his 20s in post-secondary education. His first degree was a bachelor’s degree in English. He loved literature, initially, but studied it for long enough that he does not love it anymore and is simply picky.

Amongst Chad’s other studies, he was able to spend a brief time studying language and archaeology in the Middle East.

Chad has a passion for history: from the American Civil War to the history of the ancient near east. But, he has tried to keep history as separate (as possible) from his academic life so as not to lose his passion for it.

Chad found himself in a position where he was looking for work. He lives in the same area as Dan and happened to marry Dan’s niece. At the same time, Dan was looking to start writing Let the Stones Speak but felt he needed help with the writing. Dan’s area of expertise has always been research, so he felt Chad’s skills would complement him well.

The development of Let the Stones Speak has benefited greatly from advances in technology. GPS technology has pivotally provided a means of quickly and simply measuring qibla directions. But beyond that, Dan’s research has relied on optical character recognition. With this technology, Dan has been able to digitize a library of around 24,000 documents. Every character within these books is recognized, so he can quickly and easily search this database when looking for sources and information.

Where this technology still lacks is in its ability to optically recognize Arabic, which is not yet possible. When an interpretation of an Arabic source is unclear, Dan must find the correct passage in the correct volume of the text manually. He will often then present it to his wife, an Arabic teacher, who will help Dan to understand the text, and correct him if his interpretation is incorrect. Chad, too, put great efforts into checking Dan’s sources, ensuring they’re documented, accurate, and contextually appropriate.

Dan appreciated Chad’s openness to the material. Often those who have an interest in the history of Islam approach new material with deep-seated preconceptions. Chad was willing to weigh the merits of each argument as they worked through them. Chad also had the opportunity to research and write two chapters of the book, including one on the Romans, which was near to his interests.

After working together for a considerable amount of time to complete the project, Chad has a particular appreciation for the breadth of Dan’s knowledge. Dan can recall information remarkably quickly and has read a great deal of material.

Let the Stones Speak is available in a free PDF format here. Purchase information for a hardcover copy will appear on the same page when available.

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