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Scholars have long questioned traditional accounts of the origins of Islam. Most of what we know comes from Islamic manuscripts written some 200-300 years after Islam began. Did those later writers clearly understand their history, or were they presenting the popular views of their time?

Canadian historian Dan Gibson has pieced together a different Islamic history using the archaeological record rather than manuscript evidence alone. He has compiled a database of the remains of over 200 early mosques and places of prayer in Islam, revealing a surprising and sometimes shocking account of the genesis of Islam and its spread. Could this really be true?

This book examines Gibson’s research data as well as a statistical analysis by Dr. Walter Schumm and Zvi Goldstein. Gibson, along with Chad Doell, examine how this new data changes and yet fits the manuscript accounts. The scholarly objections of Dr. David King are also examined and answered.

Gibson’s initial research was the subject of a 90 minute 2016 documentary film: The Sacred City. Now eight years later Gibson’s research is complete and published here in print.

Copies should be available by April 2023. The PDF version will be distributed free of charge.



The archaeological record compared with the manuscript record

The archaeological record compared with the manuscript record



Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ii

Funding, Copyrights, Photos iii

Transliterations, Dating, 1st person iv

Glossary v

1 Let the Stones Speak 1

2 The Discovery 8

  • Unknown facing
  • Petra facing
  • Parallel facing
  • Between facing
  • Mecca facing
  • Jerusalem facing

3 Qibla Data Examined Statistically 39

by Schumm & Goldstein

  • Research Questions
  • Methods
  • Results, Objections, Conclusions

4 How did they do it? 57

  • Four cardinal directions
  • Measuring distance
  • Calculating the qibla
  • Amra star char

5 What about Mecca? 70

  • Ptolemies maps
  • Rivers in Arabia
  • Finding Mecca on Ptolemy’s maps
  • Morris drive another nail

6 Umayyad Qasrs 90

  • Nabataean manor houses
  • Qasr life
  • Change of Qibla

7 A Case for Petra 99

  • The names of Petra and Mecca
  • The Arabic of the Nabataeans
  • The Aramaic of the Qur’an

8 The Ka’ba in Petra 116

  • The Pre Islamic Ka’ba / Petra Ka’ba
  • The Ka’ba during Muhammad’s life
  • The Ibn al-Zubayr Ka’ba
  • The Ka’ba in Saudi Arabia
  • The Abbassids

9 The Religion of Abraham 132

  • The Altar
  • The Pilgrimage
  • The Pilgrimage Route
  • The Ka’ba and Stone Cubes
  • Interpretation of Religion of Abraham

10 Evidence Suppressed 151

  • The Power of Al-Hajjaj
  • The Qarmatians

11 Dr. King Challenges Gibson 168

By Chad Doell

  • Astronomical Alignments
  • Modern Directions
  • Other Objections

12 The Roman Army 185

by Chad Doell

  • The Roman Border
  • The religious climate of Petra
  • The Roman-Sassanian war
  • Muhammad and the Sassanian war
  • Appendix: Mu’ta

13 Other Locations & Sites 201

  • Abraha and the elephant
  • The Battle of Badr
  • China
  • Medina
  • Paran
  • Ta’if
  • Zamzam
  • Shib Abu Talib
  • Ghadir Khumm
  • al-Abwa village

14 Conclusion 249

Ap. 1 Online Qibla Tool and Database 254

Ap. 2 The Mosques 264

Ap. 3 More Statistical Analysis 322

Bibliography 328

Index 344

Page Discussion

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