March 22, 2022 Chad Doell & Dan Gibson
In his research of the Qibla directions of early mosques, Gibson has discovered that these mosques can be divided into four categories: the Petra facing mosques, the ‘between’ facing mosques, the Mecca facing mosques, and what he calls the ‘parallel’ mosques. This last category is the most difficult to understand. In North Africa and Spain, there are numerous mosques which have Qiblas that do not face Petra in Jordan, Mecca in Saudi Arabia, or a point intentionally in between those places, as Al-Ḥajjāj’s mosques did. These mosques, instead, have adopted a Qibla direction which seems to face southward into the interior of Africa. Gibson claims that their Qiblas run parallel to a line drawn between Petra and Mecca. In this chapter Gibson investigates the earliest ‘parallel’ mosque to discover some of the reasons why it had such a strange qibla. Gibson has called these ‘parallel mosques,’ as they face a direction parallel to a line drawn from Petra to Mecca—at 155 degrees. The Ka’ba building in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, faces toward Petra with a similar angle.