June 22, 2019
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The revisionist theory of Petra being an earlier qibla (prayer direction) for Muslims prior to Mecca is essentially part of a larger conspiracy theory amongst revisionists who posit Islam developed over a period of time after the Prophet. It will not come as a surprise that advocates of this revisionist theory also adopt ideas such as “the Quran was invented after the Prophet” (or even before the Prophet!) P
Jay Smith of Pfander Films is the chief advocate of such polemics in Christian-Muslim apologetics circles. One would imagine, to the embarrassment of serious-minded and more scholarly Christians.
Admittedly I don’t follow Jay Smith as closely as some but from the Islamic Awareness article, it appears Smith has revised his own theories; back in the early 2000s he used to claim the qibla was in the vicinity of Jerusalem and nowadays he’s claiming it is Petra.
Regardless of any shifts in his thinking, his theories fall flat on their face as shown on Islamic Awareness 15 years ago:
Modern studies have shown that in the early mosques astronomical alignments were used for qibla. Astronomical phenomenon such as sunrise or sunset during equinoxes, solstices, Pole star, Canopus, etc. were used to direct the mosques towards qibla. Concerning the early mosques in Egypt and Iraq, David King says:
The first mosque to be built in Egypt was built facing winter sunrise, and it was this direction which remained the most popular throughout the medieval period amongst the religious authorities. Likewise some of the earliest mosques in Iraq were built facing winter sunset. Only recently has it become known that astronomical alignments were used for the qibla, so that some modern historians (sic!) have mistakenly inferred from the orientations of the early mosques in Egypt and Iraq that they were not built to face the Kaaba at all, but rather to face some other sacred site. Now, however, we even know why such astronomical alignments were used