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was the original "mecca" actually the city of petra? Anon 11/21/2022 (Mon) 16:19:04 ID:93bd4a No. 2281
Gibson’s Quranic Geographies makes a powerful case for Petra from archaeology history, and literature--one worth taking on, point by point: Tradition asserts that the Quran was compiled not long after Muhammad’s death, during the caliphate of Uthman. But the earliest Quranic manuscripts date from the ninth century, two hundred years after Muhammad. This long gap in the written record raises questions about the accuracy of the information transmitted across those generations, especially where we find inconsistent, contradictory, or implausible details. For example: While tradition venerates Mecca as the Prophet's birthplace and the site of the Kaaba, the Quran cites Mecca by name only once. Could this be a later interpolation? How is Muhammad's home city described in the Quran? We read that Muhammad dwells in a rich walled city, a trade hub and ancient pre-Islamic pilgrimage site. Fertile soil and regular rain support trees and agriculture. Caves in the nearby mountains face toward the city. And tradition holds that the city lay a day's ride from Jerusalem--where Muhammad ascended to heaven. Petra fits this description much more closely than Mecca. In Muhammad’s time, Petra was a walled city, the Arab world’s premier pilgrimage site, and one of its three main trading centers. Petra’s ruins contain temples to the very pre-Islamic deities described in the Quran. Seventh century Petra lay in a fertile valley that received regular rainfall and supported agriculture. The cliffs around Petra contain numerous caves facing down into the city--like the one in which Muhammad heard the angel's command to “Recite!” Like the city described in the Quran (but unlike today’s Mecca), Petra is a day's ride from Jerusalem. By contrast, there is no record of Mecca before the ninth century--two hundred years after Muhammad. And while Petra and Medina appear on ancient trading maps, Mecca does not. Petra and Medina a contain substantial archaeological material dating to Muhammad’s time and earlier. But Mecca does not. Mecca stands in a much more arid corner of the Arabian peninsula. Paleobotanists find no evidence of trees or agriculture in the vicinity of Mecca. Mecca is of course many days away from Jerusalem by horse or camel. In short, this desert outpost doesn't really match the Quranic description of the Prophet's home--more than that, it's not clear that any substantial city existed in this location during his lifetime. But perhaps Gibson’s most intriguing line of evidence comes from the orientation of qiblas in early mosques, which he argues were built pointing worshipers’ devotions toward Petra, not Mecca. Comparing the orientations of every known mosque built during Islam's first century, he finds that these structures consistently orient worshipers not toward Mecca, nor toward Jerusalem (see next paragraph), but toward Petra. All lines drawn from these early qibla walls seem to converge on Petra. A key Quranic passage changes Islam's original direction of prayer from a unnamed holy place to a “Masjid al Haram.” Tradition holds that the original direction of prayer was toward Jerusalem, holy city of Jews and Christians. However, the site is not specified. And the earliest extant Qurans--from the ninth century--do not even contain this verse, suggesting that it is a later addition. So Gibson questions the identification of Jerusalem as the original direction of prayer: Petra had been sacred to the Arabs for centuries. The valley walls are covered with the graffiti of Arab pilgrims to pre-Islamic shrines. If Petra was indeed where Muhammad received his mission, its sacred character would have then transcended these roots. Jerusalem, he argues, only later took on special significance to Arabs. These lines of evidence point instead toward Petra as the unnamed original direction of prayer. So, how did Mecca come to assume such central importance in Islam? Gibson's argument from here turns primarily on accounts of the second Islamic civil war: Early in this conflict, the Umayad dynasty besieged rebels in the holy city, catapulting stones onto the Kaaba. But the caliph's death forced the Umayads to withdraw. The rebels dismantled the damaged shrine, gathering horses and camels from their allies, then, mysteriously, rebuilt. Gibson suggests that something has been omitted from this obscure sequence of events: In short, the rebels took apart the shrine and assembled beasts of burden to evacuate the city before the Umayads could return from Damascus. They removed the Kaaba from its ancient shrine in Petra to a new one in faraway Mecca. The decision was not misjudged: Over the following years, Petra was destroyed by war and earthquake. After the Umayad caliphate finally collapsed, the new Abbasid caliphate redirected prayer toward Mecca. Petra's legacy would be suppressed in the acrimony and confusion of prolonged civil conflict. The old direction of prayer would be remembered as generally toward the former Byzantine Syria (the vicinity of both Petra and Jerusalem). Mecca took on sacred significance as the new dynasty’s approved shrine of the Kaaba, and Petra's memory would fade. Jerusalem took on new sacred meaning for Muslims as large numbers of formerly Byzantine Christians and Jews came came under their rule.
>>2281 >Fertile soil and regular rain support trees and agriculture The quran never says that about mecca Let's see what the quran actually says about mecca : Our Lord! I have made some of my offspring settle in a barren valley near Your Sacred House! Our Lord! I did so that they may establish Prayer. Quran 14:37 So yeah the quran says mecca is barren not fertile, fitting description.

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