Qibla Maps


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Table of Contents

Qibla Maps

Mecca in Western Saudi Arabia

The objective of al Hajj is the Ka’ba

The Ka’ba in Mecca

The Need for Directional Information

So what direction is it from here?

Ways of discovering the Qibla

Measure using a string on a globe

Calculate using a formula

PPT Slide

Or use a map.

World map centered on Mecca Directions From Mecca are correct

Directions FROM Mecca are correct

Retro-azimuthal for Mecca

Given the circular appearance of the azimuthal map projection with direction FROM Mecca, we expect a somewhat similar looking circular map with Mecca at the center when requiring directions be TO Mecca.

James Craig of the Survey of Egypt introduced the class of retro-azimuthal map projections in 1910.

Craig’s Retro-Azimuthal Map (squint at it)

Craig’s Retro-Azimuthal Map

Expanded to the whole world this is Craig’s retro-azimuthal map.

Here it is without the graticule.

Changing the latitude of the center changes the map.

Here the center is near the Equator

This is not the end of the story

Hammer’s Retro-Azimuthal Map

Equidistant Retro-Azimuthal Centered at Mecca. It covers only the principal Muslin countries (60 degrees in longitudinal extent from the center).

Map of the world centered on Mecca

The same with the graticule.

Changing the center modifies the hole and the overlap.

Here is the new graticule.

Another strange map

A new retro-azimuthal projection. Direction to Mecca: Left to Right. Distance: Down. Mecca Is the line across the top. Find your location then measure from the left edge to get the direction. Measure up for distance.

The Graticule showing the hole and the overlap.

Distance-direction diagram from Los Angeles Los Angeles across top, Distance down, Direction left to right

The graticule to accompany the previous map

Another method

Lines of Equal Direction to Mecca Mercator Projection

Or Use The Stereographic projection Center near Mecca Great circles from & to Mecca are straight lines. Local angles are preserved.

On The Stereographic Projection To get the direction to Mecca. Draw a straight line to the center and measure the angle with respect to the meridian.

Here Is A New Azimuthal Projection

Back to the Arab World

Astrolabe by al-Khujandi of Baghdad, A.D. 985

Arab scholars had an interest in astronomical subjects.

An extract of a Qibla table from circa A.D. 1360

Previously only tables and treatises were extant, no maps.

The Brass Qibla instrument

The Iranian Qibla Instrument Found in 1989

Some details

Detail of the Qibla Instrument

Better detail

The second instrument, found in 1995

The second instrument with sundial removed

Some References

Waldo Tobler Professor Emeritus Geography Department