August 25, 2023

Dan Gibson, The Nabateans, And The Qibla Question



Daniel Gibson is a Canadian author studying the early history of Arabia and Islam. He is the author of Early Islamic Qiblas: A survey of mosques built between 1AH/622 C.E. and 263 AH/876 C.E, which advances the claim that early mosques were oriented towards Petra, rather than towards Mecca or Jerusalem as accepted by mainstream archaeologists and historians of Islam.


The Nabateans emerged as a distinct civilization and political entity between the 4th and 2nd centuries BCE, with their kingdom centered around a loosely controlled trading network that brought considerable wealth and influence across the ancient world.

Described as fiercely independent by contemporary Greco-Roman accounts, the Nabataeans were annexed into the Roman Empire by Emperor Trajan in 106 CE. Nabataeans' individual culture, easily identified by their characteristic finely potted painted ceramics, was adopted into the larger Greco-Roman culture. They converted to Christianity during the Later Roman Era.

. . .Historians such as Irfan Shahîd, Warwick Ball, Robert G. Hoyland, Michael C. A. Macdonald, and others believe Nabataeans spoke Arabic as their native language. John F. Healy states that "Nabataeans normally spoke a form of Arabic, while, like the Persians etc., they used Aramaic for formal purposes and especially for inscriptions." Proper names on their inscriptions suggest that they were ethnically Arabs who had come under Aramaic influence, and the Nabataeans had already some trace of Aramaic culture when they first appear in history. Some of the authors of Safaitic inscriptions identified themselves as Nabataeans.

Video Title: Intro to Dan Gibson - Early Islamic History Ep. 1. Source: CIRA International. Date Published: August 27, 2020. Description:

Historian and author Dan Gibson has devoted his life's work to exploring the early history of Islam, focusing especially on the Quibla, or the direction in which Muslim mosques direct worshippers to pray. Al Fadi and Dr. Jay Smith introduce Dr. Gibson's work and ask key questions about the history of early Islam. 

Muslims claim can prove little about their early history before the mid-700’s AD. Al Fadi and Dr. Jay Smith explore the work of Dr. Dan Gibson and how it impacts the claims of Muslims about their religion. 

Video Title: The Nabateans and Dan Gibson - Early Islamic History Ep. 2. Source: CIRA International. Date Published: September 1, 2020. Description:
The Nabateans were a fascinating and advanced culture that built the city of Petra in Jordan. But how are the Nabateans related to the early history of Islam? Al Fadi and Dr. Jay Smith explore the findings of Dr. Dan Gibson in relation to the Nabateans and early Muslims.
Video Title: Why the Nabateans Matter - Early Islamic History Ep. 3. Source: CIRA International. Date Published: September 3, 2020. Description:
Al and Dr. Jay continue their discussion of the Nabateans and begin to look at how Dr. Dan Gibson shows that many of the places mentioned in the Quran could not be where they are claimed to be but fit more accurately with more northern places. 
Video Title: Talking with Dan Gibson 2: The Nabateans, Builders of Petra. Source: Dan Gibson. Date Published: October 19, 2017. 

Video Title: Qiblas all face different directions! - Data vs. interpretation - Qibla Dilemma - Dan Gibson - Ep 1. Source: CIRA International. Date Published: February 3, 2022. Description:
The Qibla is the orientation every mosque takes which faces the holy temple in Mecca. It is the direction every Muslim faces when they pray. However, Dan Gibson found that mosques vary greatly in which direction they face from anywhere from Mecca to Petra in the north to anywhere in between. Most of the earliest mosques face Petra which becomes a problem for Islam which dictates that these would be facing Mecca. Watch as Al Fadi and Dan Gibson discuss the data and the interpretation of that data in this series.