Saturday, November 15, 2008

The World’s Largest Qiblah

A qiblah is a compass or similar device that is used by Muslims to determine the correct direction of Mecca. They are required to face the Kaaba in Mecca during their daily prayers, so discovering the right direction is very important to a devout Muslim. If you carry out a web search on “kiblah” or “kibla”, you will find a variety of modern products on sale to help believers find an accurate pointer to Mecca. Every mosque features a special niche in one wall known a mihrab which acts as a qiblah to orient worshippers towards the object of their devotions.

Crescent of BetrayalAlec Rawls is the author of Crescent of Betrayal, a book about the planned memorial to the heroes of Flight 93. The structure, the “Bowl of Embrace”, was originally called the “Crescent of Embrace”. It will be built by the National Park Service at the site where Flight 93 crashed outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania on September 11th, 2001.

Mr. Rawls contends that the proposed memorial dishonors the heroes of Flight 93 and honors the Islamic terrorists by acting as a huge qiblah. He calculates that the axis of the crescent lines up almost exactly with the correct orientation towards Mecca from that area of rural Pennsylvania.

In the video below, Alec Rawls and the father of one of the heroes of Flight 93 make the case for the giant qiblah near Shanksville:

If you want more information, visit the Crescent of Betrayal website. Mr. Rawls has also started a petition calling for a Congessional investigation into the Islamic symbolism of the memorial’s design.

Not everybody agrees with him. For an opposing point of view, see this article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Some people towards the left end of the political spectrum consider him deranged and paranoid.
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But an interesting corroboration to Alec Rawls’ assertion comes from an unexpected quarter: a Pakistani immigrant to the United States. The author of this article in All Things Pakistan describes the difficulties he faced when he came to the United States, and had to learn to face an entirely different direction during his daily prayers. He talks about some of the various devices and calculation methods that can be used to determine the direction of Mecca.

Qiblah: Flight 93 memorialAnd as an illustration of what he’s describing, what do you think he uses?

Yes, that’s right: he uses the same site plan for the Flight 93 memorial, the original Crescent of Embrace.

He thinks it’s a reliable guide for finding Mecca.

So what do you think it is?

A bucolic and aesthetically pleasing memorial to those who died on 9/11?

Or the world’s largest qiblah?


Homophobic Horse said...

Knowing the leftists, they would approve of a Kibla to demonstrate how open and tolerant they are, unlike the psychologically deranged terrorists.

This could be a battle line for Islam-o-realism.

Alec Rawls said...

The flight 93 Memorial is indeed a most important battle line. This is a rare terror war battle that we can still win, despite a president-elect who doesn't want to fight (if he is even on our side).

Exposing this hidden memorial plot will not only remind everyone of the nature of our terror war enemies--that they hide amongst us pretending to be trustworthy friends--but it will also expose the willful blindness of those who try to pretend that there is no threat.

There's really nothing so surprising about architect Paul Murdoch's plot itself. We hosted an open design competition in time of war. What else did we expect? Of course the enemy was going to enter. The real revelation here is the ever-growing numbers of crescent defenders who have flat out lied to the public about the most basic facts about the design. When the truth all comes out, people are going to be astounded at the blatant dishonesty about clear evidence of an enemy plot.

That makes the Memorial debacle a chance to get a big win over our dishonest media and the see-no-evil political correctness that can actually lose the terror war for us. Al Qaeda can't beat us. We can only beat ourselves, and with the election of Obama, that's exactly what we are doing. We need this win over the PC left.

Hesperado said...

Rawls and I had a couple of email exchanges a couple of months ago, and from that I learned that the architect of this memorial (Murdoch) has had more experience and interest in Middle Eastern and Muslim architecture than he lets on, and he has been involved with architectural colleagues who also have an interest and experience in Muslim architecture.

To quote from our emails: Me to Rawls:


The second architect that Paul Murdoch lists prominently on his official website as a colleague and collaborator, Charles Moore, also has done major work on Islamic architecture:

From this website on the "Aga Khan award" in architecture:

"The Aga Khan Award for Architecture was established in 1977, to enhance the understanding and appreciation of Islamic culture as expressed through architecture."

It lists Charles Moore as recipient of 1992 awards for architectural design along with someone named Selma Al-Radi for the following structures:

a "Cultural Park for Children" in Cairo, Egypt, as well as the "Demir Holiday Village" in Turkey, as well as something called "East Wahdat Upgrading Programm" in Jordan, as well as the "Kairouan Conservation Programme" in Tunisia, and the "Palace Parks Program" in Turkey, and the "Panafrican Institute for Development" in Burkina Faso (a country with 50% Muslims and member of the Organization of Islamic Conference), and something called "Stone Building System" in Syria.

Also, the Aga Khan award site describes its architectural philosophy:

"community improvement and development, restoration, re-use, and area conservation, as well as landscaping and environmental issues."

And it has a link to a sub-specialty in architecture called "vernacular architecture", which involves using local customs and materials for architectural building.

On Paul Murdoch's official website, he also prominently features his interest in "vernacular architecture", and describes architectural interests and orientation similar to the Aga Khan site:

"He has spoken extensively on the critical role of design and relationship of architecture to the environment through topics such as sustainable development, ecological urban planning, building re-use, and the poetics and practicality of recycling. His background and travel experience includes research of vernacular architecture in traditional cultures as well as modernism."

2) Rawls to me:

Very interesting.

This is not the first Aga Khan connection.

One of the Muslim scholars who the Park Service called upon to whitewash Murdoch’s design was a Paul Murdoch classmate from UCLA who is now Aga Khan professor of Islamic architecture at MIT.

Doing some looking, the Aga Khan is the leader of the “Ismaili Shia,” a mostly Indian and Iranian sect. They seem to have some money, and are not state based.

I suspect it is just a source of funding that these guys managed to tap into, possibly becoming a vehicle for their contacts with each other.

Looking at Moore’s children’s park in Cairo, I expected to find another open air mosque, pointing to Mecca, and sure enough:

[Rawls pasted in a photo of a Middle Eastern complex designed by Moore]

I’ll have to find the address so I can get an overhead view on Google earth and verify that the palm lined strip with the mihrab at the end points to Mecca, but I presume it does.

This is actually very close to Murdoch’s design. It uses standing palm trees to represent the standing palm trees from Muhammad’s original mosque, so that the prayer area and the courtyard get combined into one, as in Muhammad’s mosque and Murdoch’s mosque.

Very helpful.

3) Me back to Rawls:

On Paul Murdoch's official website, it says:

"He has worked in Los Angeles with AIA Gold Medalists Arthur Erickson and Charles Moore"

So I googled "Arthur Erickson", and look what I found:

4) Rawls to me:

Great work Erich. I believe you found the original model for Murdoch’s mosque:

[pasted in a sweeping drawing of an open-air plaza of Middle Eastern design]

islamic university of madinah (64 K)

This is the open air mosque at the center of the Madinah campus layout. The columns are called “riwaqs.” They represent the standing palm trees on which Muhammad’s original mosque was built. Replace the columns with trees and form them into the shape of a mihrab (seen in the center) and you have Murdoch’s mosque.

In most modern mosques, like the one seen above, the riwaqs surround the courtyard area, before entering the prayer area beyond. But in Muhammad’s original mosque, the riwaqs surrounded the prayer area. Thus by bringing the mihrab and the riwaqs together, Murdoch is actually going back to Muhammad’s original design.

It could be this Erickson character who actually figured it out. And uh oh. It looks like he is backed by Saudi money.


Interesting stuff about Murdoch who when interviewed about the 93 controversy, affects a disingenuous "Gee, I don't know what you're talking about, I'm just a good ol' American architect" attitude.

Alec Rawls said...

Yes, that Arthur Erickson connection looks very significant. Murdoch would have been working for an Erickson right at the time when Erickson was doing the Islamic University of Madinah, with its elaborate outdoor mosque.

I've been planning to do a blogburst post about the Madinah design, and have just been hoping to get more information first, to see if Murdoch actually worked on this design. At the least he worked at a company that had expertise in mosque design.

Zenster said...

There was a time in America when insensitive (if not outrightly offensive) @ssclowns like Paul Murdoch would have been tarred and feathered immediately prior to being ridden out of town on a rail.

Since it would be indecorous of me to suggest far more appropriate modifications of the preceding measures (typically involving an imaginative variety of blunt, pointed and abrasive objects), I will instead leave such musings to the reader's own speculation.

(NOTE: The word verification for this post is "tarize". How appropriate.)

laine said...

Hard to believe that the design is random (surely it would have been off by ten degrees at least) or even sub-conscious.

Most likely, it's another left wing "artist" whose priority is sending a big wet kiss to Muslims to prove his own moral superiority in refusing to demonize them rather than a memorial to a plane- load of American heroes and victims whose tragic deaths saved Congress or the White House from a direct hit.

Undoubtedly he belongs to the "we provoked them" school of thought. He's fooled some of the people some of the time though including some relatives of the victims I believe.

Geoffrey de Bouillon said...

Just for curiosity -- when do we begin to be provoked?