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Islamic Awareness

  • Summary: 

    In this paper, we will discuss a contentious theory on the Muslim qibla, or the direction of prayer, of the first mosques in the earliest period of Islamic history. A small, defiant, and largely discredited group of Orientalists have argued that the early mosques were not oriented toward Makkah, but somewhere in northern Arabia or even Jerusalem, a theory that challenges the Muslim belief that the earliest mosques were directed toward the Kʿabah. The notion that early mosques were oriented toward northern Arabia/Jerusalem insidiously suggests the possibilities that the earliest Muslims did not pray toward Makkah and that the Islamic traditon of a qibla facing Kʿabah was a later development, hidden from history by some sort of a conspiracy. The divisive appeal behind such a theory is rather obvious when we consider that it has been chiefly propagated by Western scholars such as Patricia Crone and Michael Cook. Dutifully parroting this theory is Joseph Smith, an assiduous Christian missionary whose anti-Islamic propaganda is largely restricted to the internet.

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