January 2022, Dan Gibson

The Qibla Tool was released 24 November 2018. It is a simple graphical overlay program for the Qibla Database. It allows visitors to view the Qibla Database in various ways, and is the easiest way for visitors to understand the data. (See https://nabataea.net/cinema/talkingwithdan/talking-with-dan-gibson-6-the-qibla-tool/)

In essence, the Qibla Database contains data of mosques and places of Islamic prayer from the first three centuries of Islam (about 250+) including a handful of notable mosques from the next two centuries. Every effort is being made to list every known mosque or place of prayer from the first three centuries of Islamic history. However, we may have missed some, or new places may be discovered after the publishing of this data. Each location has been painstakingly researched, and many of them have been personally visited by one of our researchers or by volunteers who are helping us collect data. The database contains the latitude and longitude of each location making it easy for researchers to locate and visit them.

The focus of this data is to determine the direction that people faced while praying at each location. This is given in degrees, starting with 0 degrees at the north. The goal of this database is to discover the direction people faced at the time the original structure was built. This direction is shown in the Qibla Tool as a line extending from the location. If the original building has been demolished and rebuilt so that the original direction is unknown, then the date is listed in the Rebuilt category, and no line is shown.

The Qibla Database also contains Dan Gibson’s classifications. He lists each location under one of these categories: Unknown, Petra, Mecca, Parallel, and Between. The Qibla Tool allows viewers to sort the mosques into these categories, and to zoom down to view each structure. The tool also allows visitors to view mosques by the era they were built in. Again, these are Gibson’s classifications, usually based on archaeological discoveries at the different sites. The Rashidun dating is usually Gibson’s. The data is sorted according to eras. These include: Muhammad, Rashidun, Early Umayyad, West Umayyad, Umayyad, and Abbasid. A handful of unique mosques built after the first 300 years of Islam have additional eras of Timurid and Safavis.

The data used in the Qibla Tool is in the form of an Excel spreadsheet. The January 2022 edition has over 200 mosques and prayer places listed in chronological order along with GPS coordinates and links to further information.

The first edition of this database was published January 2018 with 160 mosques and places of prayer. Now the second edition. (January 2022) is available with over 200 places of prayer. Dan Gibson says: “I am grateful for the contributions made by Dr. Peter Harremoes, for his research both in books and manuscripts, and also measuring Qibla direction on the ground in 2021. I am also grateful to the hundreds of people who have written in or made comments, alerting us to mosques that were not in the database. Many people, both scholars and amateurs have been involved in this search for early Islamic places of prayer.”

The database is copyrighted and can be found at the FigShare Repository, and can be cited:

Gibson, Dan; Harremoes, Peter (2022): Early Islamic Qibla Database 2022. figshare. Dataset. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.19087784.v2

You can enter this URL to visit it. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.19087784.v2

The data in the Qibla Tool is constantly being reviewed, edited, and improved even after the published data above. The most up-to-date information is in the Qibla too, which can be viewed at: https://nabataea.net/explore/founding_of_islam/qibla-tool/

At present (Sept 2022) the database contains the following:

Total: 259 places of prayer

Petra Facing: 61

Between Facing: 55

Parallel Facing: 33

Mecca Facing: 30

Jerusalem Facing: 4

Unknown: 76

(Most of the unknown sites do not have enough information. For example, a lone mihrab stone which we have not been able to measure. It may or may not be in situ. With further research or visits to these site, they may be updated in the future.)

We assume there are more sites, especially in Syria and Iraq of which we are not aware.

Dan Gibson Sept 2022

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