Universal Mecca Time

Muslim scientists and clerics have called for the adoption of Mecca time to replace GMT, arguing that the Saudi city is the true centre of the Earth.

Erm, do you think that someone should tell them that a point on the surface of a sphere is not the centre of that sphere?  I’m really not sure if these guys are being serious or self-satirical, but something tells me they’re being serious.

One geologist argued that unlike other longitudes, Mecca’s was in perfect alignment to magnetic north.

A geologist said this? Aligned with what? Mecca lies roughly on 40˚W, whilst Magnetic North is roughly 114˚W.  You might as well claim that T’aiei in Taiwan or Manila in the Philippines should be  0˚Longitude!  But then you need to account for the slight problem that magnetic north moves. This is staggeringly stupid thing to say.

He [I’m assuming this is the geologist] said the English had imposed GMT on the rest of the world by force when Britain was a big colonial power, and it was about time that changed.

Not quite.  England didn’t actually go around the world imposing GMT by force on the world.  In the long struggle to pin-point longitude, the English just got there first. Several times.  If you go to the Grenwich Observatory in London you’ll discover that there wasn’t one GMT, but a progression of GMT’s as more telescopes were built and courtyard space was slowly used up in an ironically pointless endeavor to try to discover a way of pinpointing Longitude at sea using telescopes.  The story is fascinating and is actually a story of very English blunders. If you’re interested, the story is brilliantly brought  to life in Dava Sobel’s book, “Longitude” (ISBN: 1-85702-571-7)

A prominent cleric, Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawy, said modern science had at last provided evidence that Mecca was the true centre of the Earth; proof, he said, of the greatness of the Muslim “qibla” – the Arabic word for the direction Muslims turn to when they pray.

The cleric Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawy is clearly following in the footsteps of his more deluded christian theologians.  I’m not familiar with this “qibla”, but I’m reasonably certain that it no more “proves” that Mecca is “the centre of the Earth”, than the Bible “proves” the Madam Adam and Eve story is true.

This one’s a good’en though:

The watch is said to rotate anti-clockwise and is supposed to help Muslims determine the direction of Mecca from any point on Earth.

Kudos to them. Hope it works.  The only problem I can think of is that they may need to think about points that are not “on Earth”.  It’s apparently bad enough for astronauts in Low Earth Orbit; how will they respond should humankind ever venture to the stars, or – the various mutually incompatible gods forbid – to the galaxies?

The meeting in Qatar is part of a popular trend in some Muslim societies of seeking to find Koranic precedents for modern science.

It is called “Ijaz al-Koran”, which roughly translates as the “miraculous nature of the holy text”.

Also known – just like creationist apologetics – by the more technical term, “bullshit”.




2 Responses to UMT?

  1. Dileep Sathe says:

    As a physics teacher, I do not agree with the new proposal of Muslims and in favour of GMT for following scientific / geographical reasons. First, earth is SPHERICAL and not circular. So NO town – Mecca or Greenwich or any other – can be at the centre that is about 6400 Km below the surface of earth. One can prove this point, by using school physics. Second, we are concerned with the rotation of earth, not with magnetism. As GMT is the present standard, the present IDL [International Date Line] passes mostly through Pacific ocean. But if Mecca is taken as a standard, the new IDL will pass through western Canada causing confusion among Canadians and Americans, particularly. Therefore I am opposing the Mecca time. Lastly, though GMT was introduced by British, it has no concern with the British colonialism.

  2. Shebang says:

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Shebang.

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