Mecca Time

Mecca Time
Mecca Time is located in Earth
40th meridian east

Mecca Time is a time standard that uses the line of longitude that goes through Mecca, Saudi Arabia (39°49′34″ E of the Greenwich Meridian) as its Prime Meridian. Its proposed use as a global standard is based on the claim that the city is the true center of the Earth and thus should become the basis of the world's timezones. A clock based on this meridian would be at approximately UTC+02:39:18.2.

The proposal was made by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi and other Muslim clerics meeting in Doha, Qatar on April 21, 2008 for a conference titled "Mecca: the Center of the Earth, Theory and Practice."[1]


Mecca clock

Clock on 11 August 2010.

On 11 August 2010, (1 Ramadan, AH 1431), the world's largest clock (at Mecca) started to operate. Some Muslims hoped that this would establish "Mecca Time" as the world's defining timezone.[2] While officials had originally expressed the conviction that the clock might help to establish Mecca as prime meridian, the decision to set it to Arabia Standard Time, a time zone based on Universal Coordinated Time and thus in coordination with Greenwich, suggests that these hopes might not bear fruit.

Qatar conference

The "Mecca: the Center of the Earth, Theory and Practice" conference was organized and attended by Muslim theologians and other religious officials from across the world. The Qatar meeting was the culmination of efforts to seek answers for scientific questions from the Qur'an and other Islamic scriptures — a trend called "Ijaz al-Qur'an" (Miraculous nature of the Qur'an).[3] The conference promotes the belief that Islamic scripture also revealed scientific details, which Islamic scholars seeking to unearth and publicize the textual evidence.

The conference revived a decades-old controversial issue, contending that the Greenwich Meridian was imposed by Britain and Western civilization during the colonial period and that Islam, unlike other religions, does not contradict science.[4] One of the contentions was that unlike other longitudes, Mecca was in perfect alignment with the magnetic north.[1] Muslim clerics hail this as evidence of the greatness of the qibla—the direction determined to be towards Mecca that Muslims across the world must turn towards while reciting prayers.[1]


Mecca is not aligned with the North Magnetic Pole. As the geomagnetic field of the earth continuously changes the deviation of the compass needle from true north (known as the magnetic declination) also slowly changes. In the past there were epochs when the compass needle at Mecca pointed true north (and there will be future epochs when this is true again) but at the moment the line of no compass deviation is located somewhat to the southeast of Mecca. In 2012 the magnetic declination of Mecca will be 3.10° East and will continue to increase at about +0.07° per year.[5]

Nor can Mecca claim to be the "true center of the Earth", presumably meaning "located at the center of the terrestrial hemisphere containing the largest area of land". The center of the land hemisphere is actually located in France, near the city of Nantes (about 4700 km from Mecca).

During the 1884 International Meridian Conference, when Greenwich was established as the initial meridian, the Ottoman Empire, at that time controlling Mecca, voted with the majority for Greenwich.[6]

The concept of Mecca Time was described as "a beautiful example of cargo cult science" by PZ Myers in reaction to the news of the building of the Mecca clock.[7]

Other uses

Pan-Arab satellite television networks, particularly Al Arabiya, refer to Saudi Arabia Time (UTC+03:00) as "توقيت مكة المكرمة" (Tawqīt Makkah al-Mukarramah), i.e. "Mecca Time."


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