21 April 2008

Mecca is the center of the earth?

Muslim call to adopt Mecca time, from BBC News. Muslim scientists are arguing that we should use Mecca time because they believe Mecca is the center of the earth.

Of course, the Earth is spherical; its center is not on the surface! The only points that we can really pick out are the north and south poles, and indeed time zones are based on meridians which pass through those two points -- and some third point.

I can't find the actual source. But it would not surprise me to learn that the argument's circular -- Mecca is the center of the earth because Muslims pray to it, and Muslims pray to it because it is the center of the earth. Can anyone confirm or refute this?

29 comments:

Stregatto said...

Have you considered the anisotropy caused by the huge amount of muslims praying in the direction of Mecca?

unapologetic said...

Muslims pray to it because a meterorite landed there once. Now, did the meteorite land there because it's the center of the world, or...

Mark said...

I haven't really given this much thought, but would it be possible to define a "center" on the surface of the Earth in terms of population density?

There is a well-defined shortest geodesic distance from any given point on the surface to each person. What's wrong with defining the "center" to be the point on the surface that minimizes the sum of these distances over all people? I'll concede that such a point may not be unique in which case you could tie break based on some secondary criteria (distance to equator/pole/etc).

Anonymous said...

In the spirit of Mark's remark, I'll note that you could also possibly define a center in terms of a point on land with least mean square distance to the other points on land by only land routes (or with the water portion minimized for any routes that require crossing the water).

Or precisely the opposite: least msd from a point in the water to all other points in the water, going by a water route only.

.mau. said...

Since the Earth is not perfectly round, there is (hopefully just one) point at its surface with minimum distance from the center of the planet.
But I am not sure if digging is allowed :-)

Chingis Xaan said...

let's consider that the earth is, give or take, 4.459 thousand million years old.
let us call this

459,000,000,000 years.

now let us say god began to speak to mohammed, give or take, in 900 a.d.

so we can say that we have had the "word" from "god" 900 / 459,000,000,000

or

1.960784313725490196078431372549e-9 percent of the time.

{[ another calculation is (900) x (1/459,000,000,000) ]}

this is by the way an equal discrimination argument let us consider god talking to jesus or to moses - the calculation would be 1 order of magnitude different in these {[crudest of]} calculations.



so let us say that out of all the years earth has existed

900/459,000,000,000 of the time there were "the rules" from "god"

and for

(459,000,000,000 years - 900 years = 4589999999100 years

there were no "rules" from god.

now if we were listening to "god" for the previous 458,999,999,100 years since the beginning of earth (which is roughly a third of all time since the big bang)

instead of the touted 1.960784313725490196078431372549e-9 percent of the time proposed by literalists of religion - we would be closer to the "truth" or so called god.

And so
I rest my case saying that
these arguments for choosing a particular time and place are irrelevant for if you go with GMT or Asian time or western time, you STILL will have to calculate differences between earth time zones - and for most of time itself the reasons for choosing one particular timezone were irrelevant. Perhaps in a roundabout way again a confirmation of no particular frame of reference and relativity as understood by physics.

michaeldcassidy said...

Brooklyn was the center of the Earth until 1957; then the center shifted to the moon.

misha said...

I suspect "the center of the earth" is a sloppy translation into English, "the center of the world" would've made much more sense.

malkarouri said...

I would like to comment, being an Arabic speaking Muslim.
After having a look at a couple of Arabic links (like http://www.al-sharq.com/DisplayArticle.aspx?xf=2008,April,article_20080417_588&id=local&sid=localnews - in Arabic) I find a bit more details.

The occasion was a Muslim conference calling for Mecca to be established as the centre of the earth - hence the BBC translation. Digging a little in the details, what they meant was the centre of land mass - the difference lost in translation. The conference was focused on three aspects (axes is the word used in Arabic): the religious/theological aspect, the scientific aspect, and the Mecca watch aspect.
I won't go here into the theological aspect (I personally agree with preferring Mecca to other places, but that is personal faith). From what little explanation I can find about the scientific aspect, the argument is that Mecca is the centre of land - excluding the sea from their calculations. As the distribution of land is not even on the crust of the earth, the centre of mass will probably be tilted towards some area which they argue is Mecca.
The third aspect is the invention of a Mecca watch which shows the direction of Mecca from anywhere in the world as well as the time. It looks that this invention, and the publication of an accompanying book, were the reason for the conference. From what little I can find the third part looks to me fishy/marketing science, but I cannot vouch for that.

I will probably leave you now to form your opinions yourselves..

Anonymous said...

"and for

(459,000,000,000 years - 900 years = 4589999999100 years

there were no "rules" from god."

Of course, Islam has a neat solution for this. God has sent a lot of prophets of which the last is Mohammed (pbuh). Jesus and Moses are past prophets who are recognized in Islam as well as others including Adam who is the first person. So as humanity started with a prophet, there never was a period in the existence of humanity when there were no rules from God. QED

topologicalmusings said...

anonymous: Just out of curiosity, in what time period did Adam live? According to accounts in the Bible, it seems he lived some 6000 years ago; perhaps 10,000 years may be a better estimate?

malkarouri said...

@topologicalmusings
Replying for anonymous, I have never come across an estimate of the time period of Adam in Islam, Quran or other sources. Of course he is mentioned a lot, but there is no estimate of the time period of humanity at all.

Optimus Prime said...

there are 'a few' misinformed individuals posting replies to this message which I suppose comes as no surprise since the topic makes reference to Islam and Muslims... you would think by now there would be a greater understanding of 2billion of the world’s population? i guess its the ignorant teaching the ignorant... which only leads to more ignorance and more division.

In the west religion, or more accurately Christianity and science have a history of conflict which lead to the renaissance and gave birth to secularism and the birth of capitalism.

Let us not forget the renaissance, i.e. scientific movement finds its roots in Baghdad! Islam has a long history of a millennium in advancing science. So when Muslims talk about science they do not see it as something opposed to religion hence when we talk about finding the scientific true centre of land at which global time is set to 0 we are establishing it through scientific method (rather than imposed through a colonial power) note for Muslims also has a spiritual significance which it will not for non-Muslims

Anonymous said...

Optimus Prime said...

"there are 'a few' misinformed individuals posting replies to this message which I suppose comes as no surprise since the topic makes reference to Islam and Muslims..

So when Muslims talk about science they do not see it as something opposed to religion hence when we talk about finding the scientific true centre of land at which global time is set to 0 we are establishing it through scientific method (rather than imposed through a colonial power)"


Quite a telling post. It is your ignorance that is palpable.

Scientific method be damned. What those clowns are doing is the opposite of science. They are starting with a conclusion and trying to find evidence to fit that conclusion.

GMT was not imposed you ignorant moron it was adopted. The reason it was adopted is to do with naval navigation. You could educate yourself here. Find out for yourself why GMT was adopted. Some clues to help you. It has a lot to do with the invention of the World's first accurate timepiece that was capable of being taken to sea and the location of Greenwich observatory.

Those factors made British sailors able to produce the most accurate maps of their age. That is the reason GMT was adopted. It was not imposed.

ArabMuslim said...

The term "Center of the Earth" is misleading. Mecca is a "Spiritual Center of the World" (for Muslims of course) based upon its history (Adam, Abraham, ..., Muhammad (pbuh)) - It's the first spot on earth that is meant /established to worship a unique God. There is a current movement in the Muslim world - lead by "scholars" with no scientific background and mainly financed by rich Gulf countries - that is trying to fabricate scientific explanations for many things that are mentioned in Koran I personally do not recall any verse from Koran that states that Mecca is the "physical" center of the Earth. These "scholars" are irritating: instead of focusing on more important issues, they're waisting everyone's time on ridiculous items. Seeking knowledge in an honest and ethical fashion is very encouraged in Islam (according to Koran) ... but this group of scholars is the first one to violate this noble principle.

Dean Alexander said...

I think it is possible to have a center of the earth if you take where the sun rises in the east and sets in the west and based on longitude and lattitude pin point the center. Voila!!!

ingngarso said...

I don't care whether these muslims are right or wrong, I think let us leave them with their belief about mecca. I don't see any reason why these matters should be considered seriously, we have recession before us, and a lot of real problems to think and solve, instead of worrying whether those black box should be center of the earth.
If I dont like religion, I will create my own religion, but the problem is I am not sure how can I make millions of people doing the same thing at the same time at one commands, for hundreds of year, all because of me.
If you dont like this mohammed, challenge by him becoming his opponent with same result and success in brainwashing people.

Sam said...

What an odd conversation, we're discussing the center of the earth without a true agreed definition of "center". Geographic, geological, spiritual, seasonal.....what the hell are we basing any argument upon??

I don't know who or why some muslims declared Mecca the center of the earth, it doesn't really interest me until scientific arguments are made. Religious declarations are a dime a dozen.

i've read thru a number of truly scientific studies based upon the Qur'an and they are compelling to say the least. Subjects of astronomy, gestational development, chemistry are all addressed with amazing accuracy in this 1400 year old religious book.

The only scientific argument i've read so far regarding this "center of the earth" business is a geological one. A simple google search will help anyone who is interested to find some online publishing of geological information regarding the 12 tectonic plates and their movements over the surface of the earth over the course of millions of years. Cumulative data suggests (according to proponents) that the other plates are actually rotating around the arabian plate.

I haven't looked into this and probably don't care all that much but at least it is an argument which can be scientifically challenged and reviewed. If we bother to discuss this at all, let's do it in the context of something we all agree upon, science.

ok, discuss......

Fact said...

please refer to the link below :

http://newyorkermen.multiply.com/journal/item/171


there's nothing much left to say after reading this I suppose ...

Also, Muslims do not pray kaaba, they jusy turn towards it .. it is the Lord, Allah taa'la that they pray ..
Kaaba actualy significe the Oneness of God, that Our is creator is One and he has no associates or partners ... and his creation, we peopple face a common place when we pray ..

Allah is a arabic term which translates into "the divine" and is appropraite to the fact when I say,
God is One .. there are no Gods or Godesses ... neither does He have a form nor a image, neither birth nor death ....
as such, we cannot turn the word Allah into allahs or turn it into plural form or make it into a feminine form or give any gender ...

Mark said...

Surely the centre of the world is literally that, the very centre of the globe or 'core' as it is known. The point at which one would be equally close to all the people in the world. IN meditation we can anchor ourselves to our body through our breath and so become the still centre. I think that Mecca is better descibed as the belly button or hara, in Zen the hara is the cosmic centre. Bow to that and get in touch with the still centre when you pray O muslims! and yes, face Mecca as God has taught us to Xx

what do muslims believe??? said...

Muslims faith is that all the books and scriptures sent by Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) to his messengers are true. From amongst them the books and scriptures which have been sent down there are four well known:

Towrat (Original Torah). This book was revealed by Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) to prophet Musa (alayhi salaam) (Moses).

Zaboor (Original Psalms). This book was revealed by Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) to prophet Dawoud (alayhi salaam).

Injeel (Original Gospel). This book was revealed by Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) to prophet Isa (alayhi salaam) (Jesus).

The Holy Qur'an. This book was revealed by Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) to Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam).

The Holy Qur`an is Allah (subhana wa ta'ala)'s last book and everything inside it is true, nothing has been taken out and nothing new has been added. It will remain perfect until the Day of Judgement. It is Allah (subhana wa ta'ala)'s last perfect book and Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) promises in the Holy Qur`an that He will never let anyone change it.

With the Torah the Psalms and the Gospel we have to believe that at the time that these books were revealed, everything in them was true, but after some time, people have taken verses out of those books and added new verses of their own. Now if we see anything in these books which the Holy Qur'an verifies then we believe in that. And if we see anything which is in contradiction to the Holy Qur'an or Ahadeeth we have to reject it. If we see something which is not mentioned in the Holy Qur'an or Ahadeeth, we cannot say anything about it except that "Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) knows best".

Anonymous said...

"i've read thru a number of truly scientific studies based upon the Qur'an and they are compelling to say the least. Subjects of astronomy, gestational development, chemistry are all addressed with amazing accuracy in this 1400 year old religious book."

I suggest you do more research. ALL the science in the Quran was copied from ancient Greek knowledge. And in doing so, misconceptions were also copied. E.g sperm is developed in a man's ribcage, bone is developed before flesh. If this is your idea of “amazing accuracy” you should be living in 7th century Arabia.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous(last 1)

I suggest you do more research. The testees of a man descends from the back(by the ribcage) just before birth, so the origin of the testicles is the back, and Bones do develop before flesh. Have a look at a foetus it has bones but no flesh. The last thing that the foetus puts on is flesh. The bones are developed although they are very soft. If the flesh forms first where it grows over and dont lie by saying it came from greek knowlege, the greeks were wrong most of the time, they said the earth was flat remember and quran said it was egg shaped, science only proved this recently and there are many other examples. Mohammed could not read or wite anyway to copy them and how was it possible that he only took the correct things. The quran is the word of God and can never be wrong.I challenge Bring your proof from greek knowlege if you have to match the Quraan, you wont, so advise to all become muslim or face the consequences which is hell because the message has reached you and you choose to deny. Mohammed came only as a warner ans giver of gladtidings, He gave the message now it's your choice to believe

Sakinah said...

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Thinking_man said...

I am a Muslim and sure that there is no any certain piece of information in Islam says that Kaaba is at the land center of mass.

kali said...

i dont think muslim worship kaaba they worship one god just like us christian

Anonymous said...

kali is right; muslims don't worship the kaaba, we worship God. the kaaba is symbolic.

and no, the kaaba is not a meteor...

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Vinay Prathapan said...

The Earth is not egg-shaped. It is more spherical than a billiard ball, if the deviation due to the flattening at the poles is taken into account.

The critical error, however, is this. Take two rotating balls. Each of them have one axis of spin.

Compress one ball while it is spinning, along the rotary axis. This is the model of the Earth.

Elongate the other ball, along the rotary axis, while it is spinning. This is the model of the egg.

They are opposites!