Archive for the ‘The World’ Category

What Does the Ancient City of Petra Have to Do With Prayer Direction?

September 27, 17

What is all this information? What does it mean? Is it accurate or true?

Comment below and educate me!

From around 22 minutes to 31 minutes of this well produced documentary is the most stunning, impressive and devastating section…

Where we are taken on a visit to 11 ancient mosques, as far flung as China (!) and Iraq and Jerusalem… None of which point to either Jerusalem, or to Mecca in the deserts of southern Arabia (when supposedly according to Islamic sources, the direction of prayer changed from Jerusalem to Mecca in 624 AD).

From The Qibla Question, partial summary of the above:

And correspondingly from The Search for Mecca, regarding ancient mosques before 700s AD all aligned to Petra, not to the desert Mecca:

And why do Western territory mosques face neither Mecca or Jerusalem, but also not Petra?

For example, using Google Maps it is easily checkable and seen that Qasr Al-Mshatta (built around 730-750AD):

mushattamap1

Clearly points to Petra, not Jerusalem:

mushattamap2

And not Mecca:

mushattamap3

Jerusalem to the left, Petra to the downleft, Mecca waaaay off to the downright. And Qasr Al-Mshatta very obviously points to the Petra direction. Clear and distinct that no mere ‘simple inaccuracy in aiming the layout’ could be the explanation.

More at ApoLogika: Why Did the First Muslims Pray Towards Petra?.

Some elaboration via Uncomfortable Questions for the Qur’an:

B2i. Qibla

Qibla was canonized (finalized) in the Qur’an in 624 towards Mecca (S.2:144, 149-150) Yet, Mosques uncovered between 650-705 do not have Qiblas facing Mecca.

Wasit in Iraq. Qibla points North instead of s.w.
Baladhuri stated that the Qibla in the first Kufan mosque (Iraq) faced West.
Fustat in Egypt. The Qibla points North-East towards Jerusalem instead of s.e.
Jacob of Odessa (Christian bishop) in 705 said Egyptian Muslims (Haggarenes) prayed towards Jerusalem, like Christians.
(Cook) Earliest evidence for direction of prayer (thus their sanctuary) points much further north than Mecca. In fact no mosques have been found from this period which face towards Mecca. Some Jordanian mosques also face north, while there are certain North African mosques (from much later) which face south.
“They didn’t know the direction.” Yet these were desert traders, caravaneers!

Muslims say: “Mecca was the center of the trading routes.”

Yet, Mecca was not on the trading route. It’s in a valley, no water, not like Taif, 100 miles away (cheaper to ship 1,250 miles than go by camel 50 miles).

And more from The Qur’an’s Archeological Evidence:

Consider the archaeological evidence which has been and is continuing to be uncovered from the first mosques built in the seventh century:

According to archaeological research carried out by Creswell and Fehervari on ancient mosques in the Middle East, two floor-plans from two Umayyad mosques in Iraq, one built at the beginning of the 8th century by the governor Hajjaj in Wasit (noted by Creswell as, “the oldest mosque in Islam of which remains have come down to us” – Creswell 1989:41), and the other attributed to roughly the same period near Baghdad, have Qiblas (the direction which these mosques are facing) which do not face Mecca, but are oriented too far north. The Wasit mosque is off by 33 degrees, and the Baghdad mosque is off by 30 degrees.

This agrees with Baladhuri’s testimony (called the Futuh) that the Qibla of the first mosque in Kufa, Iraq, supposedly constructed in 670 A.D., also lay to the west, when it should have pointed almost directly south.

The original ground-plan of the mosque of Amr b. al As, located in Fustat, the garrison town outside Cairo, Egypt shows that the Qibla again pointed too far north and had to be corrected later under the governorship of Qurra b. Sharik. Interestingly this agrees with the later Islamic tradition compiled by Ahmad b. al-Maqrizi that Amr prayed facing slightly south of east, and not towards the south.

If you take a map you will find where it is that these mosques were pointing. All four of the above instances position the Qibla not towards Mecca, but much further north, in fact closer possibly to the vicinity of Jerusalem. If, as some Muslims now say, one should not take these findings too seriously as many mosques even today have misdirected Qiblas, then one must wonder why, if the Muslims back then were so incapable of ascertaining directions, they should all happen to be pointing to a singular location; to an area in northern Arabia, and possibly Jerusalem?

We find further corroboration for this direction of prayer by the Christian writer and traveller Jacob of Edessa, who, writing as late as 705 A.D. was a contemporary eye-witness in Egypt. He maintained that the Mahgraye’ (Greek name for Arabs) in Egypt prayed facing east which was towards their Ka’ba. His letter (which can be found in the British Museum) is indeed revealing. Therefore, as late as 705 A.D. the direction of prayer towards Mecca had not yet been canonized.

According to Dr. Hawting, who teaches on the sources of Islam at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS, a part of the University of London), new archaeological discoveries of mosques in Egypt from the early 700s also show that up till that time the Muslims (or Haggarenes) were indeed praying, not towards Mecca, but towards the north, and possibly Jerusalem. In fact, Dr. Hawting maintains, no mosques have been found from this period (the seventh century) which face towards Mecca (noted from his class lectures in 1995). Hawting cautions, however, that not all of the Qiblas face towards Jerusalem. Some Jordanian mosques have been uncovered which face north, while there are certain North African mosques which face south, implying that there was some confusion as to where the early sanctuary was placed. Yet, the Qur’an tells us (in sura 2) that the direction of the Qibla was fixed towards Mecca by approximately two years after the Hijra, or around 624 A.D., and has remained in that direction until the present!

Thus, according to Crone and Cook and Hawting, the combination of the archaeological evidence from Iraq along with the literary evidence from Egypt points unambiguously to a sanctuary [and thus direction of prayer] not in the south, but somewhere in north-west Arabia (or even further north) at least till the end of the seventh century .

What is happening here? Why are the Qiblas of these early mosques not facing towards Mecca? Why the discrepancy between the Qur’an and that which archaeology as well as documents reveal as late as 705 A.D.?

Both the above are from master list at Pfander – Historical Critique.

Download a PDF summary with photos here. Or a few pages long PDF file here, that summarizes Dan Gibson’s research into the Petra/Mecca puzzle – starting with all the features of the holy city described by Islamic sources that Mecca doesn’t fulfill, and summarizing the timeline on pages 13-15; via The Mecca Question. Or read a webpage summary here.

Links related to the other arguments presented in the documentary:

Petra Proofs – Interactive map of Petra, with each feature linked to an Islamic quote about ‘Mecca’

The Qibla Question – Index page

And a well presented talk by Jay Smith on the historical, geographical, archaeological, manuscript – you name it! – evidence heavily related to all the above:

And more:

As summarized:

1) What the historical record is telling us who Muhammad actually was, including where he lived, and when?
2) Why his earliest biographies (Sira) and his sayings (Hadith) don’t appear for over 200 years after his death?
3) Why Mecca, where Muhammad lived, doesn’t appear until 741 AD, over 100 years after Muhammad’s death?
4) Why all the earliest mosques for the first 100 years are pointed (i.e. the Qibla) 600 miles too far north, towards Petra instead of Mecca?
5) Why all the earliest Qur’anic manuscripts don’t begin to appear until the 8th century, some 50-60 years after Muhammad; all with variants, and with corrections continuing well into the 9th century, a full 200 years after it was supposedly compiled complete and unchanged?

Feel free to comment below with your views or rebuttals to these arguments.

Why Stimulus Fails to Achieve What Its Proponents Promise, As Explained by Two Nobel Prize Winners’ Economic Theories

May 14, 15

Firstly, because not all people are stupid, short-sighted suckers.

Milton Friedman, winner of the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, proposed the Permanent Income Hypothesis that basically says: People won’t spend more just because they get a one-off, one-time boost (e.g. Stimulus), but only if they foresee a long-term increment (e.g. permanent tax cuts).

Secondly, because not all people are stupid, short-sighted suckers (wow, is that a trend or something?).

Thomas Sargent, one of the two winners of the 2011 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, proposed the Rational Expectations Theory that basically says: Don’t expect people to react to your attempted (economic) manipulation like robots with no free will or personalities. Especially if you are trying the same old tricks yet again! Fool me once…

Hence, when politicians and their pet economists (or is it the other way around?) assume they can just open the fiscal spigot and the teeming masses will fall in line with perfect obedience to their hubristic theories, it doesn’t turn out the way they expected. Stimulus does not automatically equate to an improved economy.

And reality bears the above out, to the massive detriment of Americans for 7 years running.

Christians Should Be Libertarians – Supporting Passages & Arguments

November 21, 14

A flip side argument from my long ago post A Short Pondering: Should a Christian Leader Impose Laws Based on Christian Standards?, as I’ve become more Libertarian in outlook.

Yes, Christians have a duty to warn those headed towards eternal doom off their wrong path (and in fact, it is a responsibility to do so, whereby a Christian’s neglect is a punishable offence in God’s eyes).

But should Christians in politics or power enact laws to enforce ‘moral’ behaviour? Apart from the fact that forcing behaviour on people automatically excludes moral actions out of their own free will, I feel that Christians should support a minimum of individual, group and government interference into the lives of people (that do not negatively affect other people).

Here’s a few reasons why:

MATTHEW 16:26

What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? – Matthew 16:26

Quick question: Would any of us condone coercing or tricking unbelievers into converting to Christianity? You know, like what the Islamic State thugs are doing in the Levant – ‘convert to Islam or die’?

Of course not, as apart from the fact that we believe only true repentance and conversion of one’s own free will count before God’s eyes, we simply don’t do that sort of thing (anymore, a polemic would be quick to add).

So if we won’t force the unsaved to believe in Jesus in order to save their very souls, then why force them to save their health or wealth or anything else on this mortal plane? After all, as Jesus says in the passage above, what is more valuable and precious than one’s soul? It is eternal and immutable, whereas earthly possessions will be left on earth, and the body will fade away into dust.

If we consider it immoral to coerce people into ‘saving’ their own eternal souls by law or threat, then what justification do we have for coercing them to avoid sweet or fatty food for the sake of their brief-by-comparison health? (If you answered ‘So they don’t burden the national healthcare system with their eventual health problems’ then that’s just another good argument against socialized healthcare.)

(Some caveats apply of course, e.g. preventing people from carrying out decisions made under non-neutral circumstances like suicide when in depression, driving when drunk, signing binding agreements without full information & understanding, etc.)

1st CORINTHIANS 6:12

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. – 1st Corinthian 6:12

This passage basically summarizes the Christian approach to ‘religious law’. Namely, we do not have long lists of detailed and binding legal minutiae accompanied by specific punishments like some other religions. (Caveat again, there are a few instances in the New Testament of proscribed behaviour and recommendations for action.)

Rather than specific letters of the law, we are given general guidelines in the spirit of the law – love God, love thy neighbor, seek righteousness on a personal and public basis. Non-adherence to these precepts brings about divine retribution rather than human punishment. (Caveat yet again – this is of course not including earthly punishments as prescribed by the laws set by human governments.)

What each of us does therefore should be with an eye on whether or not doing it is of benefit and in accordance with the precepts given by God.

ROMANS 13:10

Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Nuff said!

College Liberal Meme – Fave Picks Pt 4

November 23, 13

Due the large number, the images are split between 4 posts.

#001 – #250 and the intro are here.

#251 – #500 are here.

#501 – #750 are here.

#751 – #900+ are below.

(more…)

College Liberal Meme – Fave Picks Pt 3

November 23, 13

Due the large number, the images are split between 4 posts.

#001 – #250 and the intro are here.

#251 – #500 are here.

#501 – #750 are below.

#751 – #900+ are here.

(more…)

College Liberal Meme – Fave Picks Pt 2

November 23, 13

Due the large number, the images are split between 4 posts.

#001 – #250 and the intro are here.

#251 – #500 are below.

#501 – #750 are here.

#751 – #900+ are here.

(more…)

College Liberal Meme – Fave Picks

November 23, 13

Via Know Your Meme, Quickmeme and Meme Generator.

See also collected other memes:
Super Strict Success Asian Mom and Dad Meme Lols
RPG Motivational Posters
Demotivators – Depressing Anti-Motivational Posters

Or heck, just straight to My Obsessive-Compulsive List of My Obsessive-Compulsive Lists.

Due the large number, the images are split between 4 posts.

#001 – #250 are below.

#251 – #500 are here.

#501 – #750 are here.

#751 – #900+ are here.

Be warned, 200+ images below the break! (All are jpg expect the 2nd and 4th ones.)

See also collected other memes: Super Strict Success Asian Mom and Dad Meme Lols

(more…)

3 Minutes to Prove Yourself Smarter (or at Least More Hardworking and Duly Diligent) Than Matt Yglesias

August 1, 13

Via AoSHQ, Twitchy revealed Matt Yglesias @mattyglesias saying that tax rates do not affect pricing.

His logic goes thusly:

No. Taxes are paid on profits not sales. It’s irrelevant to pricing. – @mattyglesias

I had to stop and think it over. With pen and paper and a calculator.

It took all of 3 minutes to compare the following:

—————

Joe and Jane both sell the same widgets.

Widget cost is $1 a piece.

For inexplicable political reasons, Joe is taxed 15% (on nett profits, not sales as Matt Yglesias correctly states) while poor Jane is taxed 20%.

If Jane sells each widget at $3 a piece, she will have after-tax take-home money of (3.00 – 1.00) x (100% – 20%) = $1.60 a piece.

Whereas Joe can undercut her by selling widgets at $2.90 a piece, and he will have after-tax take-home money of (2.90 – 1.00) x (100% – 15%) = $1.615 a piece… More than Jane gets even though he sells cheaper!

—————

Three minutes to prove that different tax rates can incentivize different pricing.

So which is it, is Matt Yglesias too lazy or too blinkered to do one measly page of basic high school maths?

And to close, this is probably a fitting graphic (WARNING, THE FOLLOWING MAY MELT THE BRAINS OF LIBERALS AS SUNLIGHT VAPORIZES VAMPIRES!):

paulryanmath

Obama in 2017 – The Only Job Left That’s A Step-Up from President

November 30, 12

So barring an overhaul of the legislation to allow a third term as President, Obama will be all packed to leave the White House by January 2017. Where to from there? What remains to be achieved by the most powerful man in the world, the head of the richest, only superpower among the nations?

It’s been said by some that there is no higher position left to attain. This is it, and anything else represents a step down for Obama.

Actually, I believe there is one step up left.

Say hello to U.N. Secretary General Barack Hussein Obama.

It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? He was always less of the Leader of the USA, and more of the Healer-Messiah Ascended Guide of The World. Even as practically half of America rejected him in 2012, he’s still wildly popular in the rest of the world that doesn’t actually have to live under his domestic policies (Pakistan, Iran and anywhere else his Kill Drones are circling not included of course).

He’s especially beloved in Europe – that debt-sunken, chronically unemployed, high-gas priced, green energy failing territory he’s trying to make the USA emulate. It was a bunch of Euroweenies who voted him his Nobel Peace Prize remember.

It fits his temperament perfectly – a few mediations here, a few high-society cocktail receptions there, a lot of empty platitudes to world peace and the universal brotherhood of humanity with very little actually getting accomplished.

Plus, heading the carbon-cappy UN gels perfectly with his intentions to slow the rise of the oceans and redistribute the wealth of the imperialist First World that deserves to be punished for their historic wrongs against the rest of the world.

So be warned, Americans – just because Obama doesn’t stick around as Diktator for Life, doesn’t mean he can’t find other ways to mess up America!

Dow Jones Celebrates Obama’s Second Term Pretty Much the Same Way it Did His First Term

November 9, 12

By binge drinking their sorrows away:

Dow drops in post-election sell-off

NEW YORK — Wall Street greeted a second Obama term the way it greeted the first.

Investors dumped stocks Wednesday in the sharpest sell-off of the year. With the election only hours behind them, they focused on big problems ahead in Washington and across the Atlantic Ocean.

Frantic selling recalled the days after Obama’s first victory, as the financial crisis raged and stocks spiraled downward.

It was the worst day for stocks this year, but not the worst after an election. That distinction belongs to 2008, when Barack Obama was elected at the depths of the financial crisis. The Dow fell 486 points the next day.

Tipped by wits0, via FireAndreaMitchell: 45 companies announce layoff plans in 48 hours following Obama’s ‘victory’.

From MSN Money:

——————————

Yep, credit must go to Obama… The allergic reaction to his second term is nowhere near as bad as it was to his first term:

Plus plenty more at the link, stretching up to 2 weeks (and 1628 points down) from his first Election win.

See also related:

Obama’s Economic Successes: A Roundup – Dozens of graphs showing just why the markets don’t trust Obama

Obama, Please Stop Talking Sh*t:

Obama Stop Talking Sh*t

Four Years On, Stock Market Still Allergic to Obama

Obama Speaketh, Stock Market Crasheth:

Dow Jones Surges After 2011 GOP Debate

American Stock Exchange ‘Celebrates’ Obama With Record CRASHES – Repeatedly!


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