Islam’s Misdirected Mosques

One of the basic facts that most people know about Islam is that Muslims pray while facing Mecca. Muslims believe that this is mandated in the Qur’an where Allah instructs the faithful to pray in the direction of the ‘sacred mosque’ (cf. Qur’an 2:142-145, 149-150). Muslim commentators on this text are unanimous that this can only refer to the mosque (with the Ka’aba at its center) in Mecca that is still the focus of all Muslim prayer. Since this statement is in the Qur’an itself, and is dated to 624 CE by Muslim scholars, we can assume that all mosques built during the Islamic conquests would have had qiblas (prayer directions) pointing towards Mecca. The problem, from an Islamic perspective, is that this is simply not the case. Many ancient mosques have been excavated and the floor plans of the oldest among them do not align with an orientation towards Mecca. The map below shows just how widespread the ‘misalignment’ of all the earliest mosques that have been excavated are.

So what is going on here? At the very least we should consider the probability that early Islam had an alternative focus for devotion, much further to the north. This would inevitably mean that modern Muslims are misdirecting their prayers. Most people would dismiss such an idea as beyond preposterous but could I respectfully ask you to consider the evidence as laid out in my book The Mecca Mystery – Probing the Black Hole at the Heart of Muslim History’ before finally making up your mind?

‘The Exotic Lawn’ – A 21st Century Parable

‘It surely looks nothing like what we’re used to around here’ Rudolph mused as he surveyed his beautiful new lawn shimmering in the early morning dew. This was magnificently confirmed in the piece the local paper did on just how much color and diversity his bold step brings to the gardens in the area.

Sure, there have been some ignorant dunces who pointed out that this species of Arabian Camel Grass is notorious for harboring deadly snakes. Some of the more persistent among them even quoted statistics showing how much the likelihood of someone dying a painful, writhing, poison-induced death increases with every extra meter of coverage.

It was beyond Rudolph how people can be so backward. His new lawn livened up the boring and predictable conformity of the neighbourhood with its otherness. ‘Besides’ he clinched the internal argument with the Neanderthal who pleaded with him not to go ahead ‘only a tiny percentage of Arabian Camel Grass lawns ever harbours the snakes’. Surely that’s a small price to pay for the way in which it enriches quiet suburban streets.

Rudolph is awakened from his thoughts by the reminder on his phone telling him that it is time to go to a meeting of the City Council where he and a few other enthusiasts will lobby the City Council to plant Camel Grass in their community’s Public Parks.

He got up quickly. As he did, an excruciating flash of pain shot up from his ankle towards his heart.


Peter Townsend’s ‘Nothing to do with Islam?’ investigates some of the most important questions around the relationship between Islam and violence. Questions that are routinely ignored our wished away by our media and elites.


Toronto: Why Should the Mentally Ill Carry the Can for Islam’s Violence?

22 July 2018, Toronto: He showed clear signs of being a trained gunman. Meticulously picking out targets to mow down in one of Toronto’s most iconic neighbourhoods. Any government concerned with the safety and welfare of its people will immediately spring into action to ensure that horrific events like this is never repeated. Right? In modern Canada under Justin Trudeau not so much it seems.

Firstly it took more than a day to release the name of the attacker. Townsend’s law (which I just made up) states that there is a direct correlation between the length of time it takes to identify a perpetrator of a mass event and the likelihood that he/she will be a Muslim. How can it be otherwise? Politically Correct establishments needs time to get damage control measures in place.

So it proved. When the name, Faisal Hussein, was published the media machine immediately sprung into action. A slick press release was aired on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), purportedly coming from his parents. You guess what’s coming next. Faisal was mentally ill. Nothing to see here. Move right along.

Not so fast. Surely it is not uncharitable to wonder about the fact that the statement was available at exactly the same time that the name was released to the media. The CBC must therefore have had some influence over the process of releasing the name so that they could have a reassurance that it had ‘Nothing to do with Islam’ ready to go. We may also be entitled to ask why the statement supposedly coming from Faisal’s parents was actually crafted by Muhammad Hashim of the Muslim Brotherhood linked National Council of Canadian Muslims. Do bodies like these routinely get information directly impacting on public safety before the general populace in Modern Canada? And then we have not even looked at the fact that Hussein was clearly trained in the execution of a mass attack and reportedly present on several terror watch lists.

All of these things can seemingly be waved away. He was just ‘ill’ you see. Apparently he’s not alone. In the past few years the ‘mental illness’ trope has been used to explain away more than 20 Islamic terror attacks in the West. There are few things that should make our blood boil like this egregious insult to our intelligence.

For the moment just two things in response:
1) The lives of people with mental illnesses are hard enough without having to live with the slur that they are prone to go on mass killing sprees at the drop of a hat. Trying to shift the blame from Islam to those in our communities living with mental health challenges is despicable. In a world with its priorities straight, charities and NGO’s serving people with mental illness would raise hell about those pinning yet more stigma on their clients in order to cover for Islam. Hopefully we will see more of this happening.

2) This brings me to the second point. Even if we believe the ‘he’s mentally ill’ line, which I do not in this case, we still have to account for the fact that the overwhelming majority of the supposedly ‘mentally ill’ people who do this kind of thing share a common denominator: Adherence to Islam and the desire to be obedient to Qur’anic teaching on the treatment of unbelievers. So perhaps it is time that we label this ‘illness’ for what it is: ‘Sudden Jihad Syndrome’. A ‘disease’ that cannot be divorced in any way from the fact that Islam teaches warfare against non-Muslims.

Those who died and were injured, and their loved ones, deserve better than this shameful attempt to obfuscate and explain away the real cause of their suffering. Stand with me, therefore, in forcefully challenging the ‘mentally ill’ canard whenever you come across it!

For more on how Islamic teaching lies behind attacks like the one perpetrated by Hussein see my book ‘Nothing to do with Islam – Investigating the West’s Most Dangerous Blind Spot’

The Day a Goat Edited the Qur’an

A few years ago, Muslim groups in the UK sponsored some billboards with a rather bold claim about the Qur’an. This book, so it was proclaimed, in bold letters has: ‘Never Been Changed, Never Been Altered’. What this statement lacks in historical accuracy is perhaps partially redeemed by the fact that it is a rather elegant summary of the beliefs of contemporary Muslim beliefs about the Qur’an. Most modern Muslims firmly believe that there is an unbroken line from the Qur’an as supposedly revealed to Muhammad and what they hear read and recited today.

If only things were so simple! As with comparable ancient texts we can show that the Qur’an is the result of a complicated process of merging a variety of sources. We can even point out how disagreements about the end product made their way into the historical record. One of the most startling instances of this happening dealt with a disagreement about the appropriate punishment for adultery. Some Muslims clearly wanted the harshest penalty possible (i.e. stoning) while others advocated more lenient punishments (e.g. flogging or house arrest).

In the Qur’an that Muslims read today the lenient position won out in the sense that the Qur’an does not mention stoning as the punishment for any crime. Yet, all schools of Shari’a maintain that adulterers should be stoned. What is going on here?

It is clearly the case that many in the early Muslim community never made their peace with the more lenient position. Thus, they inserted their convictions into the mouths of two of the most respected members of the early Muslim community the Khalif Umar and Muhammad’s favorite wife Aisha in the form of supposedly ‘sound’ historical traditions.

Umar is made to say that people will come to corrupt the text later on but that the faithful have to remember that the ‘Verse of the Stoning’ was once part of the Qur’an: “I am afraid that after a long time has passed, people may say, “We do not find the Verses of the Rajam (stoning to death) in the Holy Book,” and consequently they may go astray by leaving an obligation that Allah has revealed. Lo! I confirm that the penalty of Rajam is to be inflicted on him who commits illegal sexual intercourse ” (Sahih Bukhari 8:816)

So how was this verse lost? The answer, is supposedly provided by Aisha, is rather comical: “The verse of stoning and of suckling an adult ten times were revealed, and they were (written) on a paper and kept under my bed. When the Messenger of Allah expired and we were preoccupied with his death a goat entered and ate away the paper.” (Sunan Ibn Majah, Book of Nikah, Hadith Number 1934)

So, there you have it Allah’s eternal word was ‘edited’ by a goat. This tradition raises all sorts of questions. These include:
1) How could Allah have been so spectacularly careless to let part of his perfect guidance to humanity get lost in this way. Especially after declaring: “It is We Who sent down the Qur’an and indeed we will be its guardian” (Qur’an 15:9)
2) How were these verses removed from the Qur’an and the memory of those who memorised it?
3) If this verse was abrogated (replaced) as claimed by some Muslims even more questions are raised: a) Where is the ‘something better’ that it was replaced by? (Qur’an 2:1 06) b) Why do the hadiths (traditions) and shari’a rulings based on it still call for the stoning of adulterers despite the Qur’an being silent on the subject? c) Why was it not left in the Qur’an like other abrogated verses?

A goat chomping away at the Qur’an is a rather funny image but this should not take away from the serious point. Far from being the product of a single mind (human or divine) the pages of the Qur’an is clearly contested territory as is shown in the incontrovertible historical evidence of serious conflict over what should ‘make the cut’.

For more about the process through which the Qur’an came into being see Chapter 6 of my book ‘The Mecca Mystery – Probing the Black Hole at the Heart of Muslim History’