World media is widely reporting that Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi has endorsed claims that the Saudi Arabian holy city Mecca should replace Greenwich as the basis for world time zones because it is “in perfect alignment with the magnetic north.” According to one report:
For more than a century, a point on the top of a hill in southeast London has been recognized as the centre of world time and the official starting point of each new day. But now the supremacy of Greenwich Mean Time is being challenged by a gargantuan new clock being built in Mecca, by which the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims could soon be setting their watches. Due to start ticking today as the faithful begin fasting during the month of Ramadan, the timepiece sits atop the Royal Mecca Clock Tower which dominates Islam’s holiest city. It is at the heart of a vast complex funded by the Saudi government that will also house hotels, shopping centres and conference halls. Bearing a striking resemblance to St. Stephen’s Tower, which houses the bell of Big Ben, and the Empire State Building, the Saudi clock aims to outdo its British rival in every way. Its four faces are 43 metres in diameter and will be illuminated by two million LED lights along with large Arabic script reading: “In the name of Allah.” The clock will run on Arabia Standard Time which is three hours ahead of GMT. When a glittering spire is added, topped with a crescent to symbolize Islam, the edifice will stand at nearly 600 metres, making it the world’s second tallest building. By comparison, the clock of Big Ben is just seven metres in diameter, while its tower stands at 95 metres. Residents of Mecca will also be reminded that it is time to pray when 21,000 green and white lights, visible at a distance of 28 kilometres, flash five times a day. But Islamic scholars hope the clock’s influence will stretch far further than the sands of Saudi Arabia, as part of a plan for Mecca to eclipse the Greenwich Observatory as the “true centre of the Earth.”…The aim to compete with GMT was summarized by Mohammed al-Arkubi, the manager of one of the hotels in the complex. He said: “Putting Mecca time in the face of Greenwich Mean Time. This is the goal.” According to Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian cleric known in the Muslim world for his popular television show Sharia and Life, Mecca has a greater claim to being the prime meridian because it is “in perfect alignment with the magnetic north.” This claim that the holy city is a “zero magnetism zone” has won support from some Arab scientists like Abdel-Baset al-Sayyed, of the Egyptian National Research Centre, who says that there is no magnetic force in Mecca. “That’s why if someone travels to Mecca or lives there, he lives longer, is healthier and is less affected by the earth’s gravity,” he said. “You get charged with energy.” Western scientists have challenged such assertions, noting that the Magnetic North Pole is actually on a line of longitude that passes through Canada, the United States, Mexico and Antarctica.
Youssef Qaradawi is often referred to here as the most important leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood, an acknowledgement of his role as the de facto spiritual leader of the movement. In 2004, Qaradawi turned down the offer to lead the Egyptian Brotherhood after the death of the Supreme Guide. Based in Qatar, Sheikh Qaradawi has reportedly amassed substantial wealth through his role as Shari’ah adviser to many important Islamic banks and funds. He is also considered to be the “spiritual guide” for Hamas and his fatwas in support of suicide bombings against Israeli citizens were instrumental in the development of the phenomenon. A recent post has discussed a video compilation of Qaradawi’s extremist statements.