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Edgar deconstructs that old approach, and brings to the task considerable expertise in social science methodology. Subsequent case studies on dream narratives will benefit immensely from his imagination-based research methods. The war in the Middle East is marked by a lack of cultural knowledge on the part of the western forces, and this book deals with another, widely ignored element of Islam—the role of dreams in everyday life.

The practice of using night dreams to make important life decisions can be traced to Middle Eastern dream traditions and practices that preceded the emergence of Islam. In this study, the author explores some key aspects of Islamic dream theory and interpretation as well as the role and significance of night dreams for contemporary Muslims.

Dan Gibson (author)

By exploring patterns of dreams within this context, a cross-cultural, psychological, and experiential understanding of the role and significance of such contemporary critical political and personal imagery can be achieved. Iain R. Foreword: Anthropological scepticism encounters dreamt realities following fieldwork in Pakistan Dr. Steve Lyon. Chapter 1. Without this foundation, every attempt to define a word that is not readily understood can only lead to disputable proposals and wishful thinking.

Since we are also void of the methodology of the Biblical construct, the author is building a sand castle upon a mountain of sand. Memorizing bogus linages from kindergarten does not validate them, does it? On the other hand, Gibson does a great job in demonstrating the primary evidence of the Nabateans.

However, it should make the Biblical narrative redundant with which he had started out. Yet, he continuously attempts to reconcile the Bible with the real Nabateans. In the face of the primary evidence, this is absolutely unnecessary other than providing for the wishful linage background. In his attempt to identify locations in the Koran, the author walks on a slippery slope by bringing the Khabiri together with the Children of Israel, respectively the Hebrews, for example.

How they may be related to the Nabateans, we simply do not know. Thus, with the approach of the author, I recommend reading the Bible and taking it at face value rather than following the Biblical tour of the book. John Healy was convinced that the Thamuds and the Nabateans were one and the same people.

These two scripts should have provided Gibson with a decisive clue how to approach the topic more carefully. He also equates the Arabs with the Nabateans, whereas seventh century primary evidence clearly speaks of two different kinds of Arabs, those friendly with the Christians and the others, the Tayyi, not so much. Finally, the reader ends up in Petra, which is the place around which the author builds his central thesis: Petra as the focal point of early mosques.

In order to demonstrate the importance of Petra, he thinks that it is one of five burial cities, whereas two annual festivals pilgrimages were held in Petra itself. In addition, Petra was an important gateway to the Nabatean trade routes through the desert, which they controlled together with the Silk Road and Damascus with access to hidden water holes.

In contrary, he asserts that Medina had been the prophetic focal point after Mecca and that the city of the Prophet would have been the capital of the Muslims under Abu Bakr and Umar. Based on primary evidence that Gibson does not provide, this might well be the case. All this conflicts with the primary evidence wherein the Umayyads had not only opposed proto-Islam but wherein the Prophet himself does not appear in the historical record until after AD.

The issue is that we are unable to draw solid conclusions when the timeline, the locations, and the people are all off. Nothing finds a solid anchor, and the unsuspecting reader risks to be exposed to mere speculation. The book only starts to be more focused and forceful from page Like others before him, Gibson notes that the Koranic geography about Mecca does neither match the present location nor was it recorded on ancient maps. But then the work of the previous pages kicks in and emerges as a tunnel vision: Mecca or Medina, perhaps is impossible; Petra and Petra only can have been the real location of the Mother-City and the Forbidden Sanctuary as if Jerusalem would not have been a far bigger price in the eye of the Muslim conquerors.

My book review of Dan Gibson's "Qur'anic Geography" in The Muslim World journal

He does have a point that the Biblical narrative of Ishmael growing up in Paran, the traditional home of the Thamudic or Nabataean people in northern Arabia provides for a thousand kilometer chasm between the Bible and Islam. The direction of prayer then turns into the main argument. Mosques were initially not oriented toward Mecca. This does not rest on some complex theory but on the simple fact that the Koran itself directs this change in prayer orientation in Sura 2.

It is merely logical that early mosques could be oriented toward the Kaaba only after this decree would have been disseminated and universally understood in the same way. But so far, academia has been unable to come forth with a sensible date when this would have been written. Gibson, instead, asserts that this directive has been missing in early Korans that have been recovered. But before we continue, we must do what Gibson did not do: establish the orientation of the Great Temple of the Nabateans in Petra and also of the Kaaba itself and some of the earliest mosques that he could not determine in order to find a starting point.


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This would require some explanation but could be by mere chance because the orientation is also astral as were several monuments in Petra. The Kaaba, as is well established, rests on pre-Islamic foundations, and its major axis is oriented toward the Canopus. For the early mosques in Medina and China, it needs to be said that they were either built later than claimed, or they were not Muslim.

No Muslim mosque could have existed in the absence of Muhammad who appeared after AD. Fustat is likely also wrongly dated, because it cannot possibly lie before Medina. We need to establish more fundamentals that Gibson also did not deliver: how precisely were the builders able to orient mosques toward any desired location? It turns out that they were exact to roughly one degree in latitude and longitude! Thus, deviations that are much larger than one degree need to be dismissed as out of range of a desired destination. After careful re-examination, it appears that any building that sort of looks in the direction of Petra, was taken as evidence.

Thus, would Gibson have been just a little bit more careful, or had his work been reviewed by an alert peer, it would have become clear that the evidence provides no grounds to conclude that Petra had a play in Islam. Quite in contrary, one can make a confident case that Petra has nothing to do with the emergence of Islam.

The picture that emerges makes it clear why a similar pattern of one focal point has not shown up long ago. The directions of these structures are fairly precise, and there is not a mistake of 2, 3, or more degrees. As the orientation of later mosques shows, they are pretty much smack on. What we could say so far if anything is that a the earliest known Muslim structures were not oriented toward either Mecca or Petra, and from this follows that b an orientation toward Petra could only confirm a non-Muslim structure.


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  8. This tenth century mosque is not oriented toward Mecca — the hundred-year older Great Mosque of Samarra is. Some traditions indeed suggest that not everybody had made use of the complete Koran.

    #05 Petra in The Qur an

    If Sura 2 had been missing for some, or if the related verses were missing, then the orientation of the mosques would not yet have been defined for them. Gibson then delves into the literary evidence, in particular the traditions, the Koran, and again the Bible. Should not his case tell him that there might be something awfully odd with these beliefs that had been sorted out two hundred years after the fact?

    See a Problem?

    If they were able to bury Petra, what else were they able to come up with? On the other hand, the author is unable to produce even a single piece of literary evidence that would say something like Petra was the original hub. This would make for a perfect crime on a very grand scale. Something must have been left behind, anything, however little. He offers nothing at all, not even a single foundation stone that could be attributed to the earliest Muslims. However, with the level of archaeological, numismatic, and literary documentation that we possess today, it seems rather unlikely that this could have been done successfully.

    It is one thing to insert a non-existing story into the history books or to swap timelines or locations — the level of difficulty is altogether different when it comes to removing an existing story without leaving a trace behind. But the orientations of the mosques constitute the traces, one might object. I just cannot validate this evidence.

    At every step along the way, I find myself faced with a religiously defended argument: do you not see this?

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    Do you not see that? The more I read, the more it feels like faith. Frankly, at times, I feel that the author looks down upon his audience, and he is perhaps eligible to doing so. After all, lovers of conspiracy theories with little learning will feast upon a case that sounds so fantastic that it borders to a miracle. I do agree, Mecca rises to be the focal point of the Muslims much later than the traditional view suggests. However, the case for Petra rests on no less real evidence than the one for Mecca.

    Academia needs hard facts, not arguments. Zunaid Hassan That was an interesting read. Thank you. You mentioned "much of the original Koran had been written in Aramaic and Syriac. Oct 26, Andrew Harrison rated it it was amazing Shelves: history. A devastating critique of the geography found in the Qu'ran using archaeology.

    This throws a huge wrench into the common historical narrative of the beginnings of Islam, particularly the location of Mecca.

    My book review of Dan Gibson's "Qur'anic Geography" in The Muslim World journal

    This is truly ground breaking work by Dan Gibson. View 1 comment. Selman Hyder rated it it was amazing Jun 16, Waliul Mizan rated it liked it Mar 20, Patrick Beachem rated it really liked it Mar 16, Keltoum Ahm rated it really liked it Apr 03, Sajid Omrani rated it it was amazing Jan 21, Andrew Harrison rated it it was amazing Oct 05, Feste rated it it was ok Sep 19, J Rijvers rated it it was amazing Dec 24, Mirza rated it really liked it Dec 01, Dale Mcgonigal rated it it was amazing Aug 09, Meaningless rated it it was ok Apr 18, Mohd Juwahir rated it did not like it Aug 06, Munir rated it it was amazing Nov 19, Pat Campbell rated it it was amazing Jan 18,