Chapter 18

By Dr. Walter R. Schumm and Zvi Goldstein


Dan Gibson has argued that the first holy city of Islam was Petra. David King has disputed Gibson’s conclusions. Using data from Gibson’s website, the two theories are tested and contrasted statistically. While King’s theory works well for most mosques and other sites after 900 C.E., Gibson’s theory seems to work well for sites prior to 900 C.E., especially for sites constructed before 725 C.E. In summary, many early mosques and related structures do appear to face Petra geographically rather than towards Mecca. However, later structures may be related to today’s Mecca in a variety of ways other than simple geographical alignment. Because each theory seemed to be more accurate for certain centuries than others, future research should apply a variety of approaches to further assessment of and comparison of the two theories as well as other theories yet to be developed that may surpass both King’s and Gibson’s qibla theories in accuracy.

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