This Jay Smith lecture begins with research carried out by Dan Gibson between 1979 and 2004, where he went to over 100 early 7th – 8th century mosques, and tabulated (using modern Aster satellite technology) where their Qiblas were directed. He noticed that they were all directed in four groups of directions.[This lecture is provided for your information however it does not represent the standing of the Israelandyou blog.]
The earliest, up to 706 AD, were all facing the city of Petra, the Nabataean city located in present day Jordan.
The 2nd set of Qiblas were facing a point half-way ‘in between’ the cities of Petra and Mecca.
The third set of Qiblas were facing towards Mecca, while the last and fourth set of Qiblas were facing on a line which paralleled a line between Petra and Mecca.
He also noticed that the ‘In between’ Qiblas were the most accurate (.98 degrees of accuracy), followed by the Petran Qiblas (2.9 degrees of accuracy), followed by the Parallel Mosques (3.5 degrees of accuracy), and that the later Meccan Qiblas were the least accurate (4.78 degrees of accuracy), proving that the earlier use of stars was more efficient than the later use of mathematics. When he looked at the Qiblas groupings, he was able to explain them by simply following what was happening politically at that time.
The Umayyads, headquarted in Damascus had their sanctuary in Petra, so all of their mosques faced Petra, even those as far away as Canton in China, and the Cherman Juma Masjid in India.
In 687 AD, Ibn Zubayr, they’re governor in Petra rebelled against abd al-Malik, the caliph in Damascus, sacked Petra, destroyed the Ka’aba, and took the black stone down south, close to Mecca.
The Abbasids (headquartered in Baghdad) who hated the Umayyads, joined with Zubayr in the rebellion against Abd al-Malik and the Umayyads. Meanwhile abd al-Malik needed to create a strong Arab identity, which included an Arab prophet, an Arab revelation, so he built the Dome of the Rock in 691 AD on a hill in Jerusalem overlooking the Byzantine Christian sanctuary of the Church of the Sepulcher. On the inner ambulatories below the Dome are inscriptions attacking Jesus’ divinity, his Son-ship, God’s father-hood, and the Trinity (the 4 major doctrines of Christianity which Islam opposes). He also introduced Muhammad’s name in those inscriptions as an alternative to Jesus, using the ‘Shahada’. This Shahada he also inscribed the same year on the Caliphal protocols, and on coins he minted between 692-696 AD. At the same time he introduced the religion Islam and the word Muslim to designate the believers.
Once he had his Arab prophet (the man), he then needed his Arab revelation (the book), so the Qur’anic manuscripts began to be compiled. It is for this reason that we only see these manuscripts appearing at this time. Yet, none of them are complete, nor do they agree completely with each, nor with today’s Qur’an, suggesting that the Qur’an went through many editions before it was finally canonized in 1924. As the Umayyads and the Abbasids continued to confront each other, other Muslims built their mosques with directions either facing Petra (supporting the Umayyads), or Mecca (supporting the Abbasids), or between these two cities, or parallel to a line connecting these two cities. They were waiting to see who would win out before giving their allegiances. Eventually the Abbasids took control in 749 AD, and from then on all the mosques began to face Mecca (with examples of a few hold-outs for a few decades more). The Meccan sanctuary with the black rock embedded in its Ka’aba became the permanent sanctuary of Islam, which continues to the present time.
Now that they had their man (Muhammad), their book (the Qur’an), and their place (Mecca), they needed to give him a back story, so that they could nail him down in history. This began with Muhammad’s biography (the Sira), which was first compiled by Ibn Ishaq in 765 AD, but re-written in 833 AD, followed by his sayings (the Hadith) in 870 AD, and then the commentaries (the Tafsir) in 923 AD, and finally the histories (the Takhrikh) also initially compiled in 923 AD. So, by the 9th – 10th centuries, the Muslims finally had their ‘Book’, their ‘Man’, their ‘Place’, and their ‘Story’… And a new religion was formed, and growing… Yet, not within a mere 22 years, as the Islamic Traditions have always suggested; but, as history now shows us, evolving over a period of 200 – 300 years!
Jay Smith (born 1953) is a Christian evangelist, apologist and polemicist. Since 1983, he has been a full-time missionary with the Brethren in Christ Mission with a focus on apologetics and polemics among the Muslims of London.
Smith was born in India to Brethren in Christ missionaries and attended Woodstock School in India. His grandparents were also missionaries. He earned a B.A. from Messiah College and then a Masters of Divinity from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in apologetics. He has also earned an M.A. in Islamics from the Fuller Theological Seminary, and a PhD in apologetics and Polemics from the Melbourne School of Theology.
In 1981, while studying for his masters, Smith attended a seminar on Islam and noting that there were only 1,500 Christians ministering to Muslims worldwide, he decided to become a missionary to the Muslim world and pursued a second master’s degree in Islamic studies from Fuller Theological Seminary.
In 1987, Smith moved to Senegal as a missionary and in 1992, he moved to London where he continued his education at the School of Oriental and African Studies and the London School of Theology. In 2001, he halted his education to concentrate on apologetics following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 by Al-Qaed.
In 2010, Smith completed in March of 2017. He helped run the Hyde Park Christian Fellowship, which emphasises the use of Polemics with Muslims alongside Apologetics for over 24 years.