The BBC reported today that some Muslim clerics and scientists have proposed the adoption of Mecca time to replace Greenwich Mean Time, because they believe that Mecca is the center of the earth, and because GMT is an artifact of British imperialism. One bit of proof that the former is true, the article says, is that Mecca is aligned with the magnetic north pole.
I'm trying to suppress my knee-jerk reaction to the ludicrousness of the idea, but I can't. Don't they know that the magnetic north pole moves around? Or that the point of having a true north pole is because that is the axis of the earth's rotation, and it makes everything easier?
The article didn't say whether these people also plan to move the Prime Meridian (0) from London to Mecca. The Greenwich meridian is, of course, one of numerous standards that have been used over the years. The Wikipedia article on the Prime Meridian even indicates that a line around 19 degrees east of Mecca was an acceptable standard in Maimonides' era; Maimonides, though a Jew, was a citizen of Islamic Spain. But whether it's due to British imperialism or not, Greenwich has been an accepted international standard for over a century, and even the French use it now.
It looks to me like the claim that Mecca is perfectly aligned with the magnetic north pole is incorrect. The Canada Geological Survey magnetic declination calculator gives a 2-degree correction between true north and magnetic north for Mecca. If the alignment were perfect, no correction would be necessary. It will change, of course.
Then there's the little matter of the Islamic calendar. I'm no expert, but I don't think it uses any form of intercalation. If it does, it's pretty badly out of whack. The Emacs calendar tells me that January 1, 1900, was year 1317 on the Islamic calendar, but it gives January 1, 2000, as Islamic year 1420. Even the Hebrew calendar, which is lunar-based like the Islamic calendar, has managed to stay within a year of the modern calendar.
If Muslims want to use Mecca time for ritual purposes, then by all means, do so. But forget about trying to use it to stay in sync with the real world.