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The Craig Retroazimuthal Projection aka the Mecca Projection
|| 4/21/2009 || 11:45 am || Comments Off on The Craig Retroazimuthal Projection aka the Mecca Projection || ||

The Craig retroazimuthal map projection was created by James Ireland Craig in 1909. It is a cylindrical projection preserving the direction from any place to another predetermined place, while avoiding some of the bizarre distortion of the Hammer retroazimuthal projection. It is sometimes known as the Mecca projection because Craig, who had worked in Egypt as a cartographer, created it to help Muslims find their Qibla. Check out the mathematical calculation used to create the map on Wikipedia.

I think it would be neat to use this cartographic projection technique to create a map that uses Washington, DC as the center.


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Google Map Mashup: The Qibla Locator
|| 4/20/2009 || 10:54 am || 1 Comment Rendered || ||

Following up on yesterday’s posting, I stumbled across this interesting Google Map mashup. The Qibla (or Kiblah or Qiblah or Quibla) is the Arabic word for the direction that should be faced when a Muslim prays, otherwise known as the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca. For obedient muslims, the Salah, or formal prayer, is performed five times a day: at dawn (fajr), noon (dhuhr), in the afternoon (asr), at sunset (maghrib) and nightfall (isha’a). The Qibla Locator is a simple Google Map that is designed to automatically orient Muslims toward the direction of the Kaaba. Simply enter your location and the red line that is generated shows the shortest distance to the Kaaba. In the case of the screen grab above I decided to show what direction a Muslim would pray if they were in the White House in Washington, DC. I chose this location because I’ve read about some nutty folks who actually think president Barack Obama is a Muslim. Frankly, I don’t care what religion he practices and to take issue with anyone’s religion is a sign of intolerance and veiled ignorance. What I find most interesting about the Google Map is that the rhumb line toward the Kaaba can be somewhat deceiving. I’m not blaming the author of the mashup, rather, I think the nature of how the Quibla is found is unique. Since its based on the shortest distance to Mecca, sometimes the fastest way seems counter-intuitive, as in, I was thought the path from the White House (above) would be facing South-East instead of North-East. If you have a moment, try it out.


A couple interesting notes from the Wikipedia entry:

• The head of an animal that is slaughtered using Halal methods is aligned with the Qibla.
• Muslims are buried with their faces in the direction of the qiblah. Thus, archeology can indicate a Muslim necropolis if no other signs are present.

A short history of the Qibla:

Originally, the direction of the Qibla was toward Masjid al-Aqsa, Jerusalem (and it is therefore called the First of the Two Qiblahs). At least since Mishnaic times (AD200), Jews face the Temple Mount in Jerusalem while praying. The Mishnah speaks about this in Berakhot (Talmud) chapter 4, Mishnahs 5 and 6 and this practice is even found as early as I Kings 8:35-36. In Islam, this qiblat was used for over 13 years, from 610 CE until 623 CE. Seventeen months after Muhammad’s 622 CE arrival in Medina, the Qiblah became oriented towards the Kaaba in Mecca. According to accounts from the prophet Muhammad’s companions, the change happened very suddenly during the noon prayer in Medina, in a mosque now known as Masjid al-Qiblatain (Mosque of the Two Qiblahs). Muhammad was leading the prayer when he received revelations from Allah instructing him to take the Kaaba as the Qiblah (literally, “turn your face towards the Masjid al Haram”). According to the historical accounts, Muhammad, who had been facing Jerusalem, upon receiving this revelation, immediately turned around to face Mecca, and those praying behind him also did so.


Related Mecca Entries:

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[Update] The Architectural Athan Drum & Bass Mashup via YouTube Doubler is now transcribed
|| 4/19/2009 || 10:36 am || 1 Comment Rendered || ||

Click image to view the mashup on YouTube Doubler

Just under one year ago I created an interesting mashup using Brian Kane’s YouTube Doubler. Dubbed “the Athan Drum & Bass Mashup” (and since then I’ve added “architectural” to the title), the mashup features a slideshow of Islamic architecture on the left side and a stationary camera focused on a Drum & Bass DJ’s turntables on the right. Last night I revisited the original entry and discovered that whomever had uploaded the slideshow decided to transcribe the Athan using YouTube’s annotation feature. Now you can actually read the English translation of the morning call to prayer sung in Arabic.

#update – This iteration also automatically rewinds!


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The Athan Drum & Bass Mashup via YouTube Doubler
|| 4/24/2008 || 11:00 pm || Comments Off on The Athan Drum & Bass Mashup via YouTube Doubler || ||

The other day I wrote about Brian Kane’s YouTube Doubler. Continuing on the same style of taking a beat track and adding a new element, today’s mash-up is similar to one that I made before using dub reggae back in December of 2004. Unlike the last version, which was created before YouTube even existed, this mashup features the Muslim call to prayer, known as the Athan, combined with a very techy drum & bass mix.

First and foremost, if you are reading this and are offended by my use of the Athan, I apologize. It is not my intent to debase or make fun of the Athan in any way, rather this mashup was designed to expose others to different ways of hearing the Muslim call to prayer. One of the fundamental tenets of Islam is tolerance and I hope you are able to tolerate this mashup. Drum & bass is very abrasive form of electronic music and the Athan is normally sung without any instrumentation, so I feel it’s an interesting sonic juxtaposition.

What I like most about the Athan video is that it features mosques from around the world. So not only do you get to hear the beauty of the call to prayer, you are shown the beauty of Islamic architecture as well. If you are interested in seeing/hearing a different Athan, check out the call to prayer being sung inside of a al-Masjid al-Haram mosque in Mecca. It’s the holiest site in all of Islam.

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(Mecca) is now Makkah
|| 11/28/2007 || 10:27 pm || Comments Off on (Mecca) is now Makkah || ||

On August 12th, 2007 I took this screenshot for my blog entry related to the Astro-theological overlays for Google Earth. The project overlaid the zodiac on locations of religious importance: Vatican City, Mecca, and Jerusalem.

Today I discovered that that the names for the locations have changed in Google Earth.

note: the Kaaba is in the lower right-hand corner

My entire life I have always spelled it the city as Mecca. I wonder when this was changed? Should I change my spellings? Some day I would like to visit the holy city of Makkah :-)


Related Mecca Entries:

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The Astro-Theological Overlays for Google Earth
|| 8/12/2007 || 12:14 pm || Comments Off on The Astro-Theological Overlays for Google Earth || ||

Click on the image below to download the .kmz file [888 Kb] for Google Earth:

Instead of just wrapping the Astrological Calendar from 1544 around the earth, today I decided to place the calendar alongside the 3 holy locations of Catholicism, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. This geographic juxtaposition of pagan symbolism with established religion makes this series of overlays one of the more interesting cartographic creations I’ve ever made.

Continue reading:

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911 F
|| 6/25/2004 || 9:51 am || Comments Off on 911 F || ||

Today Fahrenheit 9-11 opens. I can’t wait to see it!


I finished rendering another satellite image of the Hajj in Mecca. For just one image, this render took longer than any other rendering I’ve made because each pixel was checked for 256 different rays. Normally its set at like 8 rays per pixel, and I get roughly same result… Also there is a random white circle in the middle that I don’t like much. But I am still happy with it. I wonder if I should make another rendering with Mecca or with a different satellite image . We’ll see.





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Nikolas Schiller is a second-class American citizen living in America's last colony, Washington, DC. This blog is my on-line repository of what I have created or found on-line since May of 2004. If you have any questions or comments, please contact:

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