Were early mosques originally oriented on Petra instead of Mecca according to archaeological record?

Were early mosques originally oriented on Petra instead of Mecca according to archaeological record?

I have come across a claim that in early Islam, the focal point of orientation for prayers was not Mecca but was originally supposed to be Petra, and that originally Qiblas used to point in that direction.

I found this book by Dan Gibson that makes this claim: Early Islamic Qiblas: A survey of mosques built between 1AH/622 C.E. and 263 AH/876 C.E (WorldCat). He is the only person I could find that says this.

How credible is this claim and how credible is Dan Gibson as a historian?


First, there's a Wikipedia article on Dan Gibson, and it says he is not a professional historian, and is criticized by them. The article also contains links to critical reviews you may want to read. For example, here's a criticism from David King and Gibson's response.

However, it's a traditional knowledge in Islam that before Mecca, Jerusalem was Qibla. The switch happened in Muhammad's lifetime, actually, they switched mid-prayer. See Wikipedia article for the mosque where it happened. But I never heard of any other surviving mihrab pointing to Jerusalem.

In addition to that, I'd say that early mosques were likely built with much rougher directions than later when Islamic scholars honed their astronomy for this very purpose.


Watch the video: Η Μέκκα από ψηλά