Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mecca bid to replace Greenwich as center of world time zones

Two years ago, Al Arabiya reported:
Muslim scientists and scholars have called for the world to replace Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) with Mecca time, press reports said Thursday.

Prominent scholar, Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawy, said modern science had provided evidence that Mecca was the true center of the Earth, the BBC reported.

One scientist argued that unlike other longitudes, Mecca's was in perfect alignment to the magnetic north, it added.

The scientist further went on to argue that GMT was imposed on the rest of the world by force during the times of the British Empire and said it was about time that changed.

The scholars were speaking at a conference held in Qatar titled 'Mecca, the Centre of the Earth, Theory and Practice'.
It seems that a new skyscraper being built in Mecca is intended to further that claim.

The Abraj Al Bait Towers, which are due to be completed this year, will be 601 meters (1,972 ft) high. At the top will be four giant clocks facing each direction - the world's largest, and highest.

A new Al Arabiya article, in Arabic, is a light piece about a reporter visiting the British National Maritime Museum  and Royal Observatory in Greenwich and asking workers there whether they had ever heard of Mecca Time or of the Abraj Al Bait clock tower, which is challenging Greenwich to claim the title of the center of the world's time. None of them did.

One interesting vignette from the article:

On the actual meridian line is a long concrete strip which contains the names of major world cities, that tourists can stand upon. The Al Arabiya reporters was offended for two reasons. One was that the only Arab cities listed were Riyadh and Cairo; the other was that Jerusalem was listed there:

At the edges of the strip they etched the names of some famous capitals in every continent, including only two Arab capitals, namely Riyadh and Cairo, and in between there was a "capital" of other Middle East nation in Asia, which is Jerusalem capital of Israel.

I told an employee who was nearby that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel, and Britain does not recognize it as such. He said: "I am not responsible for this section, but it seems that the name of the cities are there without any mention that they are capitals of Israel or any other nation, and as you can see there are cities such as Sydney, New York and Rio de Janeiro and others, that are not capitals. They seem to select the names of cities they consider famous asexamples. "

I said: "Mecca is also famous - its name is mentioned by more than a quarter of the world's population almost every day, is it not there?

I requested telephone contact information for the employee in charge of the names on the concrete strip, and I received a tactful and respectful answer:

They do not put the name of Mecca so it would not to be trampled underfoot.
A couple of observations from this story:

The Arab Muslim reporter saw the word "Jerusalem" and automatically assumed that this was a legitimization of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, when it could have been easily interpreted as capital of Palestine, had he really had such a bizarre notion. In other words, decades of Muslim indoctrination about "Al Quds" and "Palestine" has not made a dent in the fact that everyone knows that Jerusalem is the real capital of Israel!

And doesn't it look like this reporter is looking for reasons to seethe? He sees only two Arab cities listed, and is upset; he sees Mecca not listed, and he is upset; he sees Jerusalem, and he is upset; and only when he is told that Mecca's absence is for reasons of respect does he calm down.

By the way, the  National Maritime Museum that the reporter was trying so hard to find offense at  has a Ramadan webpage, a page on the Islamic calendar, and pictures of a number of Islamic timepieces and astronomy tools (such as a compass to find Mecca.) It does not have a separate page about the Jewish calendar.