This is something I have been holding off posting, because I wanted to see if it actually made sense. The more I read it, the more I am wondering about this…. Was Prophet Muhammad living in Petra? Or was he living in what is now Mecca, Saudi Arabia?
The best write up of this is in the book “Quranic Geography” By Dan Gibson who is an expert on Nabatean studies and spent his life researching in Jordan.
He was not out to study Islam but this is something he found out while he was there and decided to spend some time looking into it. He is a not just a respectable historian, but his father was a historian too. I initially thought he was a Christian fundamentalist who wanted to disprove Islam but I could find no evidence for this claim
Some of the evidences given
- Mecca has not found in any historical maps of the world after the death of Muhammad.
- It doesn’t seem to be in the right place for a trade route. Infact its out of the way. Whereas Petra does appear in ancient maps, and was a big hub.
- Descriptions in the Quran do not seem to match the current Mecca.
- For example, it is described as having a valley in the Quran. It is also described as having some foliage. As well hadith literature gives us more clues about other discrepancies between current Mecca. Response to this is that Makkah does seem to be a valley.
- Like for example the mountains of Safa and Marwah are described as taking days to complete the saee. But now its a quick run back and forth to complete it.
- Other discrepancies include the descriptions of foliage. But if there was no foliage, how did camels and sheep feed?
- And the verse in the Quran describing how you pass by the remains of Lot in the morning and evening.
- Why do all the early mosques point towards Petra, until the time of Abdul Malik Marwan when they started to change to point to Mecca, Saudi Arabia? For a response to this, see Qibla of the Early Mosques (Islamic Awareness)
The best reference is the Quranic Geography book ($15 PDF), for the below points, but you can also check the below websites.
This documentary The Sacred City gives some compelling evidence of this claim ($8.99 to rent)
- Visual explanation of why Petra fits the description of Quran and Sunnah
- Where was Muhammad (Free Minds)
- Why did First Muslims Pray Towards Petra
- Quranic Geography by Dan Gibson
Description of Quranic Geography book on Amazon:
Dan Gibson believes that four times in ancient history the Arab people united and poured out of the Arabian deserts to conquer other nations. The first is described in the Qur’an as the people of ‘Ad. The Bible describes them as an alliance of tribes led by Edomites living in the land of ‘Uz or ‘Ud. The Egyptians named them Hyksos or shepherd kings who invaded Egypt from Arabia. By combining these three together, Gibson sees evidence of this powerful alliance from various archaeological remains. Later Arabia united again, this time under the leadership of the Midianites. Many centuries later, the tribes of Ishmael takes leadership, this time under the direction of the Nabataean tribe. The Qur’an calls them the people of Thamud. It was not until 600 AD that the Arabian Peninsula was again united, this time under the flag of Islam. But there is more to this book than a study of the four times when the Arabs demonstrated their greatness. This book also examines the geographical references in the Qur’an cross-referencing them with historical locations. The surprise comes when Gibson examines the Holy City of Islam, known as Mecca. Here Gibson finds evidence that the original Holy City was in northern Arabia in the city of Petra. He theorizes that during an Islamic civil war one hundred years after Muhammad, the Ka’ba was destroyed and the Black Rock was moved to its present location. Gibson examines archaeological, historical and literary evidence that support this theory and addresses many questions and objections that readers may have. This book contains many references, as well as some useful appendices including a 32 page time line of Islamic history from 550 AD – 1095 AD, and a 20 page annotated selected bibliography of early Islamic sources in chronological order from 724 AD – 1100 AD plus a list of many early Qur’anic manuscripts. Easy to read, fully referenced with many illustrations and photos.