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Besides Ahmed Deedat's Baca is Mecca suggestion detailed on the prior page, some folks quote 18th or 19th century authors misunderstanding of an earlier historian or geographer, as if it could substitute for an otherwise absent 4500 year pre-Mohammed historical and archaeological record of Mecca.

One such claim is made of 19th to early 20th century Islamic author Wensinck - "In the Encyclopedia of Islam, Wensinck identifies Mecca with a place called Macoraba mentioned by Ptolemy. His text is believed to date from the second century AD." However Macoraba was not only an interior settlement of Arabia, but it was a relatively new settlement at the time that Ptolemy wrote about it, so even if it had been Mecca that would only reinforce the fact that Mecca was new to the scene during the Christian era.

This from a Muslim Eastern history teacher: "Upon further study of the facts concerning Macoraba, we can conclude with certainty that Macoraba canít be Mecca, and we can refute the idea that Mecca was built in the 2nd century A.D. All the facts point to the historical argument that Mecca was constructed in the 4th century A.D."

The most commonly cited author, perhaps because Ahmed Deedat advanced the notion, is 18th century Edward Gibbon's misunderstanding of another area of Ptolemys writing. Muslims quote "...a famous temple, whose superior sanctity was revered by all the Arabians..." that Gibbon presumed was the Ka'aba in Mecca. First bear in mind that this Ptolemy reference is still in the 2nd century A.D. Second, English author Gibbon's interest was in the Roman Empire. In fact in the very same passage the quote is lifted from, Gibbon gives his readers ample warning regarding his relative interest in Arabia as "I am ignorant, and I am careless, of the blind mythology of the Barbarians: of the local deities, of the stars, the air, and the earth, of their sex or titles, their attributes or subordination." Thus it should be no surprise that by the 18th century, an Englishman that had expressed less than enthusiastic interest in Arabia, could presume that the "famous temple" written about by Ptolemy was the Ka'aba because by the 18th century it had eclipsed and replaced all of the other pagan Arabian temples/kaabas.

However Mohammed's own tribe the Quraish continued to go on pilgrimage twice a year, long after the Ka'aba in Mecca was built in the early 5th century, indicating that the Ka'aba in Mecca was a less important temple than others. That is until Mohammed had a "revelation" that brought an end to the other pilgrimages.

Quran 106:1 For the covenants by the Quraish, 2 Their covenants journeys by winter and summer,- 3 Let them adore the Lord of this House,

One of the Quraish pilgrimages was to a Ka'aba in Taif where the sun was the main object of worship. Another pilgrimage was to the north. Quoting Dr. Amari "Agatharchides told about another temple close to Ilat in the Aqaba gulf area. It is in a land belonging to a tribe called "Batmizomaneis." Agatharchides emphasizes that the temple, in his own words, "is highly revered by all the Arabs." (1)

Qibla (Qiblah) of the Oldest Mosques

It is interesting to note where the Qibla of three of the oldest mosques triangulate to, when compass roses provided by the Islamic site, "Islamic Awareness" are plotted on a map. The direction of the Qibla of the mosques in Wasit, Baghdad and Cairo actually triangulate to a location near  Al-`Ula. This was Dedan, and was inhabited perhaps as early as the 8th century BC, which is still almost a thousand years after Abraham walked the earth.

In other words the Qiblas indicate a position almost 500 miles to the north-northwest of Mecca.  Here's a Google map that locates Al-Ula.

Here's a Wikipedia article on "Ancient Towns in Saudi Arabia" which does not include Mecca, because Mecca is not an ancient town. The article does mention a town of:

"Mada'in Saleh: also called Al-Hijr

Also called Al-Hijr, this is an ancient city located in northern Saudi Arabia....
Mada'in Saleh is considered to be one of the most important and oldest ancient cities in the country. Mada'in Saleh lies to the northwest of the city of al-Ula..."  (Mada'in Saleh map)

"Mada'in Saleh was recognized by the UNESCO as a site of patrimony[5], the first world heritage site in Saudi Arabia. The story of these people called the people of Thamud (including petra) is mentioned several times in the Quran along with prophet Saleh."

"A religious area, known as Jabal Ithlib, is located to the north-east of the site.[4] It is believed to have been originally dedicated to the Nabatean deity Dushara." (Wikipedia) (map)

We learn that Dushara was mothered by Manat. Who did Mohammed recognize as Manat?

Sura 53.19 Have ye seen Lat. and 'Uzza, 20 And another, the third (goddess), Manat?

He recognized Manat as a daughter of Allah the moon god in what some have dubbed the "satanic verses" in the Quran. The deity Manat is found in pagan moon, sun and star worship as the daughter of the moon god. Isn't that interesting?

It's interesting to see how Manat fits into Islamic rituals.

Today's Al-Ula was formerly Dedan which, according to George Potter from whom the photograph below was copied and who writes that Dedan is his "favorite exploring site in Arabia", are the remains of a Lihyanite temple which the Saudi Arabian Department of Antiquities has begun excavating. There are also stairs up to another temple site on a mountaintop. Mr. Potter writes, "Their Solomon like temples appear to have been used for sacrificing she-camels, black camels and other livestock to the God Dhu Ghaibat." Link to more

On one thing we can be confident of is that the Qiblas of the most ancient mosques do not point to Mecca, but rather more likely to pagan deities, to which even Muhammad's tribe the Quraish continued to go on pilgrimage to long after he invented his religion.

Quran 106:1 For the covenants by the Quraish, 2 Their covenants journeys by winter and summer,- 3 Let them adore the Lord of this House,

Many Kaabas throughout Arabia included stone idols and were dedicated to Arabian Star Family worship, which was the same reason that the Kaaba in Mecca was built, likely in the early 5th century by Asad Abu Karb. It housed some 360 idols according to the Islamic Hadith.

Muhammad's Genealogy

In order to make the claim that Mohammed was descended from Ishmael, 8th century Islamic history creator Ibn Ishak even invented a genealogy for him. This was of course done without a single historical reference that preceded Mohammed. Sadly, for Muslims - even today - Ishak's genealogy trumps the one we received through Moses and the record of the Old Testament. Not only did Ishaq assign what were, from his tribe the Quraysh, at the time modern Arabic language names to the characters he created in Mohammed's lineage, that were supposed to have lived thousands of years before, but he included only 40 generations between the two.

There are 2,670 years between Ishmael and Mohammed. Suggesting only 40 generations, would require over 66 years per generation. Yet we know from actual Arabian historical record that the average Arabian generation was about 17-20 years.

Mohammed himself had a 6 year old "wife", that he consummated his marriage with when she was 9 years old, so a generation of 17-20 years is not a surprise. Indeed Muslims try to legitimize that marriage by declaring that desert dwelling girls reached sexual maturity earlier than girls in other parts of the world, and that is what they suggest determines whether a girl is of child bearing age, though I don't believe the medical community would agree. Indeed Mohammed's violation of a 9 year old is perhaps what made Aisha barren.

So then the 2,670 years between Ishmael and Mohammed, divided by 20 year generations, would have required over 133 Arabic generations between them. So Ishak not only invented characters of a couple thousand years before, and ascribed 7th century style Quraish Arabic names to them, but also spanned 2,670 years with only 40 generations.

However, according to many hadith writers, Mohammed himself prohibited any tracing of his genealogy past the 17th generation. This is one reason that Ibn-Ishak was considered by the Muslim scholars of his time as being guilty of forgery and fabricating false genealogies. From "Islam: In Light of History".

"Long before Ibn Ishak, Muslims who lived in Mohammed's own time also fabricated genealogies in an attempt to connect Mohammed to the descendants of Ishmael. Mohammed, himself rejected all of those false genealogies, and he put limits regarding the genealogy of his ancestors. Amru bin al-As wrote:

'Mohammed genealogized himself regarding his ancestors until he reached al-Nather bin Kinaneh, then he said 'anyone who claimed otherwise or added further ancestors, has lied.'"

A couple thousand years of history isn't something that is recalled and recorded by a single man named Ibn Ishak, 2,500 years after the fact, but rather is the record that was noted by the people that lived in or near the times that were written about. Whether in cave paintings, on stone monuments, bowls, pottery, or a written record of the times. Yet Islamic "tradition" was created in the 7th and 8th centuries, without reference to historical record that predated the late 4th century AD.

Muslims even today hold that Mohammed was a descendant of Ishmael, not only in spite of Mohammed's own prohibition against it, but even in light the fact that the name Ishmael does not occur in a single instance within the archaeological or historical record of Arabia, prior to the pens of the 7th and 8th century Islamic "tradition" fabricators. Compare that with the use of the name Isaac, throughout the history of Israel, for example.

Interesting they would want to draw attention to Edward Gibbon as he correctly characterized of the Quran:
"Instead of a perpetual and perfect measure of the divine will, the fragments of the Koran were produced at the discretion of Mahomet; each revelation is suited to the emergencies of his policy or passion; and all contradiction is removed by the saving maxim that any text of Scripture is abrogated or modified by any subsequent passage." Ė Edward Gibbon.

1 - From book 5 of Agatharchides of Cnidus, on the Erythraean Sea, excerption  from  Photius, bibliotheca, cited by Burstein, page 148-fragment 87a