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.

9 comments:

  1. Actually, they don't mean 'center' as in the 3D sense of the term, but in the way of being the geographic center when the Earth is laid out flat (Map projection being arbitrary with different technqiues, benefit analysis wrt geographic accuracy or naval-aviation benefit, distance, scale etc). Kind of like how Greenwich is zero longitude. Even in that sense, how is Kaaba the center makes no sense.

    Then the issue is that any place could really be zero longitude on Earth. Or is tha Kaaba supposed to be at zero meridian and be the equator as well (zero latitude)?. Like serve as the equator and Greenwich.


    There are junk science explanations of tectonics proving Kaaba to be the center, to some circling around with the golden ratio (very popular explanation) to some weird idea that putting Kaaba s center makes a map perfect (using the much rightly criticized Mercator Projection btw).

    But, well, pseudoscientific chest beating doesn't deal with logic, does it?

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    1. if you say kaaba is center point and you are connecting it with equator then its an point which is lying on separation line becoz equator line divides earth in two equal parts

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  2. Since any map is a two dimensional representation of the three dimensional nature of the earth (inherently difficult to fit everything on 2D, hence different map projections have different problems), being the center of the map (which the Kaaba is not either) has no bearing in reality.

    As you mentioned, the prime meridian or zero longitude is set arbitrarily, but the equator(zero latitude) is determined using the rotation of the earth and the Kaaba does not fit this criteria as well.

    So in either case, this claim is untrue. Even if it was true, this claim doesn't really add any value to Islam or Muslims, other than material for chest thumping.

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  4. Wow kiss-my-roti you are sharp (dripping sarcasm in case you did not detect it - since you are so sharp)

    :)

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  6. Muslims mean it as the flat earth also its just a belief however if u see it as a flat world then it is correct

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  7. Now im no chest thumping muslim, my curiosity landed me here. And you my friend have failed to prove a point. I can safely assume that Kaaba, until proven otherwise, is not the center of the earth due to a horde of longitudinal and latitudinal crap that surpasses layman understanding. But the sad way in which you tried and failed to prove it is painful. Next time you decide to write on a topic, make sure you have enough material to support your argument.

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  8. For the exact answer please read "The Sacred Sanctuary of Makkah" by Fayaz Tahir

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