Muslim scientists and clerics have called for the adoption of Makkah time to replace GMT, arguing that the Saudi city is the true centre of the earth. Makkah is the direction all Muslims face when they perform their daily prayers. The call was issued at a conference on Makkah, the Centre of the Earth, Theory and Practice held in the Gulf state of Qatar. One geologist argued that unlike other longitudes, Makkah’s was in perfect alignment to magnetic north. He said the English had imposed GMT on the rest of the world by force when Britain was a big colonial power, and it was about time that changed.
A prominent Islamic scholar, Sheikh Yousuf al-Qaradhawi, said modern science had at last provided evidence that Makkah was the true centre of the earth; this is proof of the greatness of the Muslim qibla – the Arabic word for the direction Muslims turn to when they pray.
The meeting also reviewed what has been described as a Makkah watch, the brainchild of a French Muslim. The watch is said to rotate anti-clockwise and is supposed to help Muslims determine the direction of Makkah from any point on earth.
The meeting was part of a popular trend in some Muslim societies of seeking to find Qur’anic precedents for modern science. It is called Ijaz al-Qur’an, which roughly translates as the “miraculous nature of the holy text”. The underlying belief is that scientific truths were also revealed in the Qur’an, and it is the work of scholars to unearth and present to the world the textual evidence.