Abraham, Mecca and the Qibla

Revisiting the Incompleteness and Incoherence of the Quran

Sam Shamoun

The Questions

This article is a continuation of our series of questions regarding the incompleteness and incoherence of the Quran. You can read our previous articles here:


As we had already shown, the Quran claims to be a scripture which is fully detailed:

Shall I seek other than Allah for judge, when He it is Who hath revealed unto you (this) Scripture, fully explained? Those unto whom We gave the Scripture (aforetime) know that it is revealed from thy Lord in truth. So be not thou (O Muhammad) of the waverers. S. 6:114 Pickthall

This Quran could not possibly be authored by other than GOD. It confirms all previous messages, and provides a fully detailed scripture. It is infallible, for it comes from the Lord of the universe. S. 10:37 R. Khalifa

In light of the claims of the Quran, we challenge Muslims to answer the following questions by consulting the Quran ALONE. We advise that our readers first read the list of Quranic citations that go along with this present list of questions:

  1. Can you show from the Quran alone where Ishmael settled?
  2. Can you produce one single verse from the Quran stating that he settled in Mecca?
  3. Since Jerusalem means "city of Peace", doesn’t this prove that when Abraham supposedly asked God to make the place of his settlement "a city of Peace" he was referring to Jerusalem and not Mecca?
  4. Wouldn’t this prove that Ishmael actually settled in Jerusalem?
  5. Wouldn’t this then prove that Abraham and Ishmael built the house in Jerusalem?
  6. The Quran says that this house was built in Becca. The Old Testament says Becca or Baca was en route to the Temple in Jerusalem:

    "Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs: the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in ZionBetter is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper IN THE HOUSE OF MY GOD than dwell in the tents of the wicked." Psalm 84:4-7, 10

    This particular Baca is in northern Israel as the text itself suggests. Furthermore, the term Baca in Hebrew can mean either "weeping" or "balsam trees." Hence, the valley of Baca can be translated as the valley of balsam trees. We find reference to such a place located within the Valley of Rephaim, an area approximately 3-4 miles south and west of Jerusalem:

    "Once more the Philistines came up and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; so David inquired of the LORD, and he answered, ‘Do not go straight up, but circle around behind them and attack them in front of the balsam (Hebrew- Baca) trees.’" 2 Samuel 5:22-23

    Noting that the valley of Baca is actually less than 5 miles away from Jerusalem, it makes sense that the Psalmist could speak of pilgrims making their way through Baca to appear before God in Zion. The reader is invited to look up the distance between Jerusalem and Mecca and use common sense to determine how likely it is that the Psalmist recommend the Israelite pilgrims to make a detour to Mecca as they made their annual pilgrimage to Mount Zion.

    This being the case, wouldn’t this provide undeniable proof that the first house of worship is not the Kabah, but the Temple in Jerusalem?

  7. Can you even find a single verse where Becca is said to be an alternate name for Mecca?
  8. There is even more evidence that the house which Abraham and Ishmael built is none other than the one in Jerusalem. The Quran tells believers to take the station of Abraham as a place of prayer. It is interesting to note that the Temple in Jerusalem was actually built in the same area where Abraham offered up Isaac!

    "Sometime later God tested Abraham. He said to him, then, ‘Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.’ Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. And he had cut enough wood fort he burnt offering, he sat out for the place that God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance… Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, ‘Father?’ ‘Yes, my son?’ Abraham replied. ‘The fire and wood are here,’ Isaac said, ‘but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ Abraham looked up and there in the thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called THAT PLACE The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.’" Genesis 22:1-4, 7-8, 13-14

    "Then Solomon began to build the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem ON MOUNT MORIAH, where the LORD had appeared to his father David." 2 Chronicles 3:1

    With this said, can you provide a single passage stating that the station of Abraham is in Mecca and not in Jerusalem?

  9. Yet this introduces additional problems. Solomon, not Abraham, built the Temple in Jerusalem, as the preceding passage shows. Since the first Temple wasn’t built until the time of Solomon, how can Abraham and Ishmael have built it?
  10. Again, if it is claimed that the first house of worship is the Kabah in Mecca, can you please produce a single Quranic verse explicitly stating this?
  11. What direction is the Qiblah?   [In what direction was the original Qiblah pointing? Cf. this article.]
  12. If you say it is Mecca, can you show this from the Quran itself?
  13. What is the location of the sacred mosque (Ali’s Inviolable Place of Worship), i.e. masjid al-haram?
  14. If you claim that it is Mecca, can you produce a single verse stating that the sacred mosque is located there?

    The following passage is the closest the Quran ever comes to making this connection:

    "And He it is Who hath withheld men's hands from you, and hath withheld your hands from them, in the valley of Mecca, after He had made you victors over them. Allah is Seer of what ye do. These it was who disbelieved and debarred you from the Inviolable Place of Worship, and debarred the offering from reaching its goal. And if it had not been for believing men and believing women, whom ye know not - lest ye should tread them under foot and thus incur guilt for them unknowingly; that Allah might bring into His mercy whom He will - If (the believers and the disbelievers) had been clearly separated We verily had punished those of them who disbelieved with painful punishment." S. 48:24-25 Pickthall

    Even this passage falls short of identifying Mecca as the location of the sacred mosque. It only claims that while in the valley of Mecca there were certain unnamed men who tried to prevent the Muslims from reaching the sacred mosque. If anything, this implies that the mosque was not in Mecca, but that Mecca was en route to the location of the mosque!

    The following passage may also imply that the house is located in Mecca:

    O ye who believe! Kill no wild game while ye are on the pilgrimage. Whoso of you killeth it of set purpose he shall pay its forfeit in the equivalent of that which he hath killed, of domestic animals, the judge to be two men among you known for justice, (the forfeit) to be brought as an offering to the Ka'bah; or, for expiation, he shall feed poor persons, or the equivalent thereof in fasting, that he may taste the evil consequences of his deed. Allah forgiveth whatever (of this kind) may have happened in the past, but whoso relapseth, Allah will take retribution from him. Allah is Mighty, Able to Requite (the wrong). To hunt and to eat the fish of the sea is made lawful for you, a provision for you and for seafarers; but to hunt on land is forbidden you so long as ye are on the pilgrimage. Be mindful of your duty to Allah, unto Whom ye will be gathered. Allah hath appointed the Ka'bah, the Sacred House, a standard for mankind, and the Sacred Month and the offerings and the garlands. That is so that ye may know that Allah knoweth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth, and that Allah is Knower of all things. S. 5:95-97 Pickthall

    This passage only introduces additional problems. First, the word Kabah simply means cube and can refer to any cube structure which was used by the pagans in their worship of their idols. In fact, according to Muslim historians there were several Kabahs in existence:

    Jabir reported that there was in pre-Islamic days a temple called Dhu'l-Khalasah and it was called the Yamanite Ka'ba or the northern Ka'ba. Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said unto me: Will you rid me of Dhu'l-Khalasah and so I went forth at the head of 350 horsemen of the tribe of Ahmas and we destroyed it and killed whomsoever we found there. Then we came back to him (to the Holy Prophet) and informed him and he blessed us and the tribe of Ahmas. (Sahih Muslim, Book 031, Number 6052)

    Jarir b. 'Abdullah al-Bajali said: Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said to me: Can't one rid me of Dhu'l-Khalasah, the idol-house of Khath'am, and this idol-house was called the Yamanite Ka'ba. So I went along with 150 horsemen and I could not sit with steadfastness upon the horse. I made the mention of it to Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and he struck his hand on my chest and said: O Allah, grant him steadfastness and make him the guide of righteousness and the rightly-guided one. So he went away and he set fire to it. Then Jarir sent some person to Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) whose Kunya was Abu Arta to give him the happy news about that. He came to Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and said: I have not come to you (but with the news) that we have left Dhu'l-Khalasah as a scabed camel. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) blessed the horses of Ahmas and the men of their tribe five times. (Sahih Muslim, Book 031, Number 6053)

    The banu-al-Harith ibn-Ka'b had in Najran a Ka'bah which they venerated. It is the one which al-A'sha mentions in one of his odes. It has been claimed that it was not a Ka'bah for worship, but merely a hall for those people whom the poet mentioned. In my opinion, this is very likely the case, since I have not heard of the banu-al-Harith ever mentioning it in their poetry. (Source)

    There is a footnote here that says:

    5. See Diwan al-A'sha, ed. Rudolf Geyer, London, 1928, p.122, line 6, where the poet says, "[To visit] the Ka'bah of Najran IS AN ORDINANCE INCUMBENT UPON YOU; [you would not be released therefrom] until you dismount in front of its gates."


    The Iyid had another Ka'bah in Sindad, [located] in a region between al-Kufah and al-Basrah. It is the one which al-Aswad ibn-Ya'fur mentions [in one of his odes]. I have, however, heard that this house was not a place of worship. Rather it was a celebrated edifice; consequently al-Aswad mentioned it.

    A certain man of the Juhaynah named 'Ahd-al-Dar ibn-Hudayb once said to his people, "Come let us build a house (to be located in a spot in their territory called al-Hawra') with which we would rival the Ka'bah, thereby attracting [unto us] many of the Arabs," They deemed the suggestion very grave and refused to heed his behest. Thereupon he said:

    "I had wished that a house be raised, Free of iniquity and removed from sin. But those who, when called upon to face a crisis, Steal away and tilde in rite outskirts of Qawdam, Have demurred and refused my request. They clamor and cry, and insist that no one should give them orders, And when entreated they turn away--some withdraw like the mute and the dumb. They withhold their charity and conceal every insult Among their kin, as the mark of the brand [on the mule] is hid." (Source)

    Herein lies the problem since this introduces an additional question. How can you prove from the Quran alone that the Kabah mentioned in this passage is the one in Mecca and not somewhere else? The fact that the passage cited before this implies that Mecca was en route to the sacred mosque proves that it is not speaking of the Meccan Kabah. And yet the moment you go outside the Quran to show that it is the Meccan Kabah you immediately falsify the Quran since you prove that it is a rather incomplete guidance.

The Verses

And remember that Abraham was tried by his Lord with certain commands, which he fulfilled: He said: "I will make thee an Imam to the Nations." He pleaded: "And also (Imams) from my offspring!" He answered: "But My Promise is not within the reach of evil-doers." Remember We made the House a place of assembly for men and a place of safety; and take ye the station of Abraham as a place of prayer; and We covenanted with Abraham and Isma'il, that they should sanctify My House for those who compass it round, or use it as a retreat, or bow, or prostrate themselves (therein in prayer). And remember Abraham said: "My Lord, make this a City of Peace, and feed its people with fruits, - such of them as believe in Allah and the Last Day." He said: "(Yea), and such as reject Faith, - for a while will I grant them their pleasure, but will soon drive them to the torment of Fire, - an evil destination (indeed)!" And remember Abraham and Isma'il raised the foundations of the House (With this prayer): "Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us: For Thou art the All-Hearing, the All-knowing." And remember Abraham and Isma'il raised the foundations of the House (With this prayer): "Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us: For Thou art the All-Hearing, the All-knowing." And who turns away from the religion of Abraham but such as debase their souls with folly? Him We chose and rendered pure in this world: And he will be in the Hereafter in the ranks of the Righteous. S. 2:125-130

"Most surely the first house appointed for men is the one at Bekka, blessed and a guidance for the nations. In it are clear signs, the standing place of Ibrahim, and whoever enters it shall be secure, and pilgrimage to the House is incumbent upon men for the sake of Allah, (upon) every one who is able to undertake the journey to it; and whoever disbelieves, then surely Allah is Self-sufficient, above any need of the worlds." S. 3:96-7 Shakir

Remember Abraham said: "O my Lord! make this city one of peace and security: and preserve me and my sons from worshipping idols. O my Lord! they have indeed led astray many among mankind; He then who follows my (ways) is of me, and he that disobeys me, - but Thou art indeed Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Thy Sacred House; in order, O our Lord, that they may establish regular Prayer: so fill the hearts of some among men with love towards them, and feed them with fruits: so that they may give thanks. O our Lord! truly Thou dost know what we conceal and what we reveal: for nothing whatever is hidden from Allah, whether on earth or in heaven. Praise be to Allah, Who hath granted unto me in old age Isma'il and Isaac: for truly my Lord is He, the Hearer of Prayer! O my Lord! make me one who establishes regular Prayer, and also (raise such) among my offspring O our Lord! and accept Thou my Prayer. O our Lord! cover (us) with Thy Forgiveness - me, my parents, and (all) Believers, on the Day that the Reckoning will be established!" 14:35-41

The fools among the people will say: "What hath turned them from the Qibla to which they were used?" Say: To Allah belong both east and West: He guideth whom He will to a Way that is straight. Thus, have We made of you an Ummat justly balanced, that ye might be witnesses over the nations, and the Apostle a witness over yourselves; and We appointed the Qibla to which thou wast used, only to test those who followed the Apostle from those who would turn on their heels (From the Faith). Indeed it was (A change) momentous, except to those guided by Allah. And never would Allah Make your faith of no effect. For Allah is to all people Most surely full of kindness, Most Merciful. We see the turning of thy face (for guidance to the heavens): now Shall We turn thee to a Qibla that shall please thee. Turn then Thy face in the direction of the sacred Mosque: Wherever ye are, turn your faces in that direction. The people of the Book know well that that is the truth from their Lord. Nor is Allah unmindful of what they do. Even if thou wert to bring to the people of the Book all the Signs (together), they would not follow Thy Qibla; nor art thou going to follow their Qibla; nor indeed will they follow each other's Qibla. If thou after the knowledge hath reached thee, Wert to follow their (vain) desires, - then wert thou Indeed (clearly) in the wrong. The people of the Book know this as they know their own sons; but some of them conceal the truth which they themselves know. The Truth is from thy Lord; so be not at all in doubt. To each is a goal to which Allah turns him; then strive together (as in a race) Towards all that is good. Wheresoever ye are, Allah will bring you Together. For Allah Hath power over all things. From whencesoever Thou startest forth, turn Thy face in the direction of the sacred Mosque; that is indeed the truth from the Lord. And Allah is not unmindful of what ye do. So from whencesoever Thou startest forth, turn Thy face in the direction of the sacred Mosque; and wheresoever ye are, Turn your face thither: that there be no ground of dispute against you among the people, except those of them that are bent on wickedness; so fear them not, but fear Me; and that I may complete My favours on you, and ye May (consent to) be guided; S. 2:142-150

And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith. S. 2:191

They ask thee concerning fighting in the Prohibited Month. Say: "Fighting therein is a grave (offence); but graver is it in the sight of Allah to prevent access to the path of Allah, to deny Him, to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque, and drive out its members." Tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter. Nor will they cease fighting you until they turn you back from your faith if they can. And if any of you Turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear no fruit in this life and in the Hereafter; they will be companions of the Fire and will abide therein. S. 2:217

O ye who believe! Violate not the sanctity of the symbols of Allah, nor of the sacred month, nor of the animals brought for sacrifice, nor the garlands that mark out such animals, nor the people resorting to the sacred house, seeking of the bounty and good pleasure of their Lord. But when ye are clear of the sacred precincts and of pilgrim garb, ye may hunt and let not the hatred of some people in (once) shutting you out of the Sacred Mosque lead you to transgression (and hostility on your part). Help ye one another in righteousness and piety, but help ye not one another in sin and rancour: fear Allah: for Allah is strict in punishment. S. 5:2

But what plea have they that Allah should not punish them, when they keep out (men) from the sacred Mosque - and they are not its guardians? No men can be its guardians except the righteous; but most of them do not understand. S. 8:34

How can there be a league, before Allah and His Apostle, with the Pagans, except those with whom ye made a treaty near the sacred Mosque? As long as these stand true to you, stand ye true to them: for Allah doth love the righteous. S. 9:7

Do ye make the giving of drink to pilgrims, or the maintenance of the Sacred Mosque, equal to (the pious service of) those who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and strive with might and main in the cause of Allah? They are not comparable in the sight of Allah: and Allah guides not those who do wrong. S. 9:19

O ye who believe! Truly the Pagans are unclean; so let them not, after this year of theirs, approach the Sacred Mosque. And if ye fear poverty, soon will Allah enrich you, if He wills, out of His bounty, for Allah is All-knowing, All-wise. S. 9:28

And there are those who put up A MOSQUE by way of mischief and infidelity - to disunite the Believers - and in preparation for one who warred against Allah and His Apostle aforetime. They will indeed swear that their intention is nothing but good; But Allah doth declare that they are certainly liars. Never stand thou forth therein. There is A MOSQUE whose foundation was laid from the first day on piety; it is more worthy of the standing forth (for prayer) therein. In it are men who love to be purified; and Allah loveth those who make themselves pure. S. 9:107-108

Glory to (Allah) Who did take His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless, - in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things). S. 17:1

As to those who have rejected (Allah), and would keep back (men) from the Way of Allah, and from the Sacred Mosque, which We have made (open) to (all) men - equal is the dweller there and the visitor from the country - and any whose purpose therein is profanity or wrong-doing - them will We cause to taste of a most Grievous Penalty. Behold! We gave the site, to Abraham, of the (Sacred) House, (saying): "Associate not anything (in worship) with Me; and sanctify My House for those who compass it round, or stand up, or bow, or prostrate themselves (therein in prayer). And proclaim the Pilgrimage among men: they will come to thee on foot and (mounted) on every kind of camel, lean on account of journeys through deep and distant mountain highways; That they may witness the benefits (provided) for them, and celebrate the name of Allah, through the Days appointed, over the cattle which He has provided for them (for sacrifice): then eat ye thereof and feed the distressed ones in want. Then let them complete the rites prescribed for them, perform their vows, and (again) circumambulate the Ancient House." Such (is the Pilgrimage): whoever honours the sacred rites of Allah, for him it is good in the Sight of his Lord. Lawful to you (for food in Pilgrimage) are cattle, except those mentioned to you (as exception): but shun the abomination of idols, and shun the word that is false,- S. 22:25-30

And complete the Hajj or 'umra in the service of Allah. But if ye are prevented (From completing it), send an offering for sacrifice, such as ye may find, and do not shave your heads until the offering reaches the place of sacrifice. And if any of you is ill, or has an ailment in his scalp, (Necessitating shaving), (He should) in compensation either fast, or feed the poor, or offer sacrifice; and when ye are in peaceful conditions (again), if any one wishes to continue the 'umra on to the hajj, He must make an offering, such as he can afford, but if he cannot afford it, He should fast three days during the hajj and seven days on his return, Making ten days in all. This is for those whose household is not in (the precincts of) the Sacred Mosque. And fear Allah, and know that Allah is strict in punishment. For Hajj are the months well known. If any one undertakes that duty therein, Let there be no obscenity, nor wickedness, nor wrangling in the Hajj. And whatever good ye do, (be sure) Allah knoweth it. And take a provision (With you) for the journey, but the best of provisions is right conduct. So fear Me, o ye that are wise. S. 2:196

Further articles on the Incompleteness and Incoherence of the Qur'an.

Articles by Sam Shamoun
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