January 02, 2008

The Anti-Qiblah

A few weeks ago, I learned of a neat website which uses the Google Maps API to identify the direction of Qiblah (prayer direction towards Mecca) from anywhere in the world. Naturally, I thought to use it to answer a question that has intrigued me for some time: what is the polar opposite of the Qiblah? That is, where in the world can one pray in any direction and still be praying towards Mecca in the shortest possible line? What are you praying toward if you're off by a full 180 degrees?

My cousin and I searched through the South Pacific until we found that specific point, using the Qibla Locator tool. While the exact polar opposite point fell in the middle of the ocean, a nearby island caught our attention. It was a ring-shaped island, quite unlike anything I had seen before.

View Larger Map

At the outset, the island appeared uninhabited. Google's satellite view did a remarkable job in allowing us to zoom into the details, and there were no immediate signs of human interference. But in those details, we noticed something quite unusual: the uniformity of the vegetation. Many of the trees were aligned in an odd grid pattern, almost as if they were replanted after being destroyed somehow.

Looking deeper along the northern perimeter of the ring, we did find some signs of human intervention. There appears to be some sort of helipad, and a few buildings scattered around it. The buildings were nestled perfectly within the grid of trees, leading me to believe that the same people who replanted all those trees have raised those buildings.

It turns out that there are a number of such islands along the South Pacific. The ring shape is a naturally occurring formation called an atoll, but the tree patterns are definitely not natural. I do wonder what is going on in this most remote of locations, furthest away from Mecca. Perhaps it is a nuclear testing site, where scientists are studying the effects of radiation on reforestation efforts. Or maybe they've genetically re-engineered dinosaurs, for the sake of building a massive theme park. Perhaps it is something far less sinister. Either way, it makes for some interesting speculation.


  1. Maybe it's the hiding place of Ad-Dajjal? :/

  2. Ohhhhh... that does indeed sound suspicious! :O

    iMuslim, when I first heard about the Dajjal and al-Jassassah, I thought that the Bermuda Triangle was where the Dajjal was hanging out, and that al-Jassaassah (or its relatives) was most likely Bigfoot, the Sasquatch, the Yeti, the Abominable Snowman, and more.
    In fact, I'm still quite sure about the latter!

  3. iMuslim: We thought about that too. Or perhaps the Juj/Majuj. Still doesn't quite explain the grid arrangement of the trees, though.

    AnonyMouse: I used to be very intrigued by the Bermuda Triangle when I was younger. Kinda forgot about it since, though, especially as a lot of the stories around it have been reportedly exaggerated. Still, there are still many unexplained occurrences, so you never know.

  4. Maybe you should've gone there instead of Florida.

    Whoa the captcha in this comment is "kabaaepv". I'm scared, Faraz bhai. <:(

  5. This is so freaking awesome. I hope you don't mind if I steal it. :P

  6. that al-Jassaassah (or its relatives) was most likely Bigfoot, the Sasquatch, the Yeti, the Abominable Snowman, and more.

    Mouse, don't you know? They're just closet monsters from Monstropolis that have been exiled into the human world (or so my sources have lead me to believe).

    Or perhaps the Juj/Majuj.

    Faraz, i thought they were stuck in a valley somewhere behind a big wall? The Dajjal was reported to be locked up on an island somewhere... eep. :/

  7. Shan: I actually thought of that. I might have had enough Aeroplan points to get there, except I have no idea how to describe where I wanted to go to anyone.

    Amina: Welcome to my irrelevant opinions! Feel free to link or reference this wherever you like.

    iMuslim: Atolls, as these ring-shaped islands are called, are basically sunken valleys. As for the wall, that can be interpreted in a few ways. Allahu'alim.

  8. as-Salam 'alaikum,

    Nice post. It got me wondering about that atoll, so I went searching for it on Google Earth and found it.

    Here's your mystery atoll:

  9. As-Salaamu 'alaikum,

    Atolls are ring-shaped island formations (usually groups of islands), and are actually under-sea volcanoes whose tips are above the sea. Often, land volcanoes have a crater or caldera (lake); that part of a volcano at sea forms the middle part of an atoll. The word is actually derived from the Dhivehi language, which is spoken in the Maldives, a country in the Indian Ocean entirely composed of atolls. The Pacific is particularly rich in them because an ocean plate is thinner than a continental one, and therefore it is easier for hot matter from the earth's mantle (under the crust) to form volcanoes.

    Shaikh Nuh mentioned the antipode of the Qibla in his book "Port in a Storm", and said that this point was a long way from any point of land, so you would not be there for long enough to be able to pray in any direction. The Wikipedia entry mentioning that you could pray in any direction at Tematangi is wrong, because Tematangi is not the anti-Qibla and therefore there is a single Qibla as there is everywhere else.

  10. Aboo Ishaaq: Thanks for the Wiki link. Seems like I'm not the first person to discover this pacific oddity. Oh well.

    Yusuf: JazakAllah-khair for the detailed explanation. This point does seem to be very close to the antipode of the Qibla, at least according to the Qibla Locator website; I hadn't seen the Wiki page that suggests that when I posted this, and came to that conclusion based on my own observations.

    Anyway, whether it is or is not possible to pray in any direction is hardly relevant - it's highly unlikely that any of us will ever get a chance to pray there anyway. I do believe, though, that it is the closest landmass to the antipode. I also agree that one should still pray in a specific direction if they happen to be on this atoll, as it is not precisely opposite the Qiblah.

  11. Dajjal-island!! 500%!

  12. We're going to visit the antipode of Makkah this summer...Tematangi...so excited! Once we get to Rangiroa, there are about 12 islands we need to get to before we land on Tematangi. It'll be a mission but hopefully worth it!

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