Location of Mohammed's Tomb
Once upon a time, in the old Physics mailing list, there were some postings of Moslem astronomers who want to research the times of Moon sightings.
This reminded me that I read somewhere that some people claim that the remains of Mohammed the Prophet are suspended in the sky somewhere between Earth and Moon. If they used modern terminology, they would have claimed that Mohammed's remains are a satellite.
NOTE: I do not remember where I read this claim. If to judge from the amount of E-mail which I received about the subject, people who hold the aforementioned opinion do not adhere to mainstream Islamic beliefs. The mainstream Islamic belief is that Mohammed is buried in The Mosque of the Prophet in Medina. A short biography of Mohammed can be found in: Famous Men of the Middle Ages - Mohammed (570-632 A.D.).
This raises few questions and speculations:
- When the Soviets disturbed the quiet of space by launching their Sputnik 1 artificial satellite, was there any outcry of Moslem religious leaders about violating the stillness of Mohammed's graveyard?
(Nowadays it is no longer an issue, as can be witnessed by the Arabsat communications satellite for the Arab countries.)
- Has any astronomical search for small natural satellites of the Earth been conducted?
(Joules Verne invented a satellite in a Lagrangian point between Earth and Moon, and this satellite perturbed the path of the cannon bullet which carried men to orbit around the Moon.)
How large can a satellite be yet be undetectable to telescopes based on Earth (of course, the size varies as a function of the orbit in which the satellite moves).
- Assuming no divine intervention which actually caused Mohammed's remains to be miraculously lifted from the surface of Earth to the space orbit, could those remains be lifted by mortal humans using a propulsion technology which was lost in the years since then?
With a tongue-in-cheek, I'd remind the reader of the existence of flying rugs in the Thousand Nights and a Night fairy tales. If there was such a lost technology, then one could claim that when Mohammed died, his remains were covered by a flying rug set to maximum altitude.
- Another possibility is that when Mohammed died, Earth captured an asteroid (or a comet) and it orbitted around Earth for few months or few years until escaping away (or falling on Earth). Therefore there was an heavenly body which could be pointed at and be claimed to be Mohammed's tomb. When the heavenly body disappeared from the skies, it could be blamed on the profane sightings on it by the sinners on Earth surface...
At any case, it may be a good idea to compute the probability of this to happen, look for evidence of its actually occurring in old records, and perhaps simulate orbits of planetoids and see whether any one of the happened to be close to Earth at the right time.
Preservation of Mohammed's Tomb
While researching for authoritative information about Mohammed's Tomb, I found at least two interesting Web pages about non-preservation of holy sites related to Mohammed: