Dan Gibson (author)

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Dan Gibson
Known forIslamic Revisionism

Daniel "Dan" Gibson (born 1956) is a self-published Canadian author studying the early history of Arabia and Islam.

Reception and critique[edit]

In 2017, historian David A. King authored a highly critical review of Gibson's Early Islamic Qiblas[1] in which he cites plagiarism, misconstruction and misunderstanding of his 1990 work on Qibla direction.[2] Gibson himself does not speak Arabic and does not have any scientific background or education. King also published a systematic review in 2018 entitled "The Petra fallacy - Early mosques do face the Sacred Kaaba in Mecca but Dan Gibson doesn't know how / Comparing historical orientations with modern directions can lead to false results".[3] King is a subject matter expert on medieval Muslim astronomy,[4] author of World-Maps for Finding the Direction and Distance to Mecca: Innovation and Tradition in Islamic Science, several articles on the Qibla, multiple articles in the Encyclopedia of Islam, was formerly professor of Near Eastern Languages and Literatures at New York University, head of Institute for the History of Science at Goethe University Frankfurt, and director of history of Islamic astronomy at the American Research Center in Egypt.

King argued that early Muslim Arabs were unable to precisely establish Qiblas when building new mosques until later mathematical developments made precision possible.[5] Further, King wrote, many variations in orientation are better accounted for by regional and local practices, imperfect geography, and folk astronomy. King noted Gibson's inadequate grasp of mathematics, citing Gibson's "spherical polygons" (p. 170) as inexplicable. King summarized his analysis of Gibson's work as an "amateurish, non-scholarly document that is both offensive to Muslims and also an insult to Muslim and Western scholarship."[5] Gibson placed a response to King on academia.edu, "Dr. King on the other hand is convinced that the sloppy qiblas actually intended to point: east, west, solstices, sunrises and so forth. I have not come across anything in Islamic religious manuscripts that support these Qiblas. But perhaps in time someone, somewhere will stumble across something that will change our understanding of Qiblas. All I have found so far, is that every Muslim expects the Qibla to point to Masjid Al Harām."[6]

Walter R. Schumm statistically tested the claims of King and Gibson with his results partially favoring Gibson. However he only used the data provided by Gibson without investigating the methodology of how the data was obtained and noted a discrepancy between website data and book data for Qibla directions.[7] It should also be noted that several of the mosques listed by Gibson have either been complete reconstructions, such as the two oldest Mosques examples of which nothing of the original remains such as Great Mosque of Hama and Cheraman Juma Mosque (which has not had its date of construction verified outside local claims) or mosques that have none of the original construction remaining such as Aqaba Umayyad Mosque.[8] Under the section on limitations in his study, Schumm admits to having not fully explored King's hypothesis about Qibla direction saying the results would have been too close and instead opting for Gibson's methodology in determining the Qibla direction. He also does not explore King's 2019 research on the topic where he lays out how the Mosque of Cordoba's Qibla was determined.[9]

Michael Lecker's review of Gibson's Qur'ānic Geography in the Journal of Semitic Studies from 2014, ends with the sentence: "This book’s imaginative writing may have its followers, perhaps even in academic circles. But the study of early Islamic history is better served by small steps, one at a time."[10] Historian Daniel C. Waugh wrote a skeptical review in The Silk Road, in which he criticizes mistakes in Gibson's book. [11]


  • Gibson, Dan (2017). Early Islamic Qiblas: A survey of mosques built between 1AH/622 C.E. and 263 AH/876 C.E. Vancouver: Independent Scholar's Press. ISBN 978-1927581223. Imprint of CanBooks.ca
  • ——— (2011). Qur'ānic Geography: A survey and evaluation of the geographical references in the Qur'ān with suggested solutions for various problems and issues'. Vancouver: Independent Scholar's Press. ISBN 978-0-9733-6428-6. Imprint of CanBooks.ca
  • ——— (2004). The Nabataeans: Builders Of Petra. Xlibris. ISBN 978-1-4134-2734-9. Self-published


External links[edit]