Wednesday, August 8, 2012

FYI: The Kaaba is not the center of the world

The purpose of this post is to clarify, hopefully for once and all, the surprisingly prevailing meme among Muslims that the Kaaba is the center of the world. It isn't. Period. Although there exists a barrage of "evidence" from the Internet that supports this claim, this assertion is scientifically untrue for the following reason:

The earth is a three dimensional spheroid (not quite a perfect sphere) consisting of three layers: crust, mantle and core. The crust is the 5-70 km deep solid outer layer on which everything exists. The mantle, 2,890 km deep consists of silicate rocks composed of iron and magnesium which although solid, acts as a slow moving liquid under high temperatures (hence lava). The final layer, the core, has a liquid outer layer (iron, nickel and trace elements) and a solid inner layer (iron and nickel).

                                                      (credit: Science Ramiro)

The Kaaba cannot be the center of the world, because it exists on the surface of a three dimensional structure. For all three dimensional structures, the center is located within the structure itself and not on the surface. The ONLY way for Kaaba to be the center of the world is to assume that the world is flat.

At this point I would also like to address the claim that Kaaba is the center of the world because it's four corners point to the four main cardinal directions (North, South, East and West). The corners of the Kaaba may very well match these cardinal directions. After all the Kaaba is a cube whose eight corners are placed 90 degrees apart from each other and North, East, South and West are separated from each other by 90 degrees as well (in clockwise order). However there is no link with being perfectly aligned with these four directions and being the center of the Earth. As long as the Kaaba continues to exist on the surface of the Earth, it cannot be it's center.

Aside: Although I am aware that the purpose of such memes is to confer scientific legitimacy to religious belief (e.g. if the Kaaba is the center of the world, then Islam IS the only true religion) and provide a sense of accomplishment for Muslim communities that feel shut-out from the economic benefits of globalization, spreading factual untruths do not substantially further these goals. Furthermore, the popularity of these memes among Muslims across different regions and sects (I have heard this claim from both Sunnis and Shiites), even those that have received some form of post-secondary education, highlights the failure in science literacy across Muslim communities at a global scale.