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Fact Check: Misleading photo of Masjid al-Haram falsely linked to Mughals

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A photo of Masjid-al Haram claiming to be from 1904 was shared on Twitter. The Tweet claimed that the Mughals could not have built the Taj Mahal and Red Fort hundreds of years ago if Masjid al-Haram looked like this in 1904. In an investigation, it was found that the Tweet is misleading.

Twitter user @RadharamnDas posted on May 20 a photo of Masjid al-Haram, Islam's most important mosque in Mecca, claiming it to be from 1904.

The Tweet said "People from this place are credited to have built Taj Mahal, Red Fort etc. How Hindus has [sic] been fooled by Marxist-Mulla's for so long", implying that those who built Taj Mahal and Red Fort were from Arab.

The tweet has gone viral with thousands of retweets, replies and likes.

Fact Check

The History

As per known history, the Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal Emporer Shah Jahan in 1632 C.E. Shah Jahan commissioned the construction of the Lal Qila, or the Red Fort, in 1638 C.E to serve as the main residence of the Mughal Emporers.

The first Mughal Emporer and founder of the Mughal Empire was Babur. Babur was originally from the principality of Fergana, now in modern Uzbekistan, not Saudi Arabia, where the Masjid al-Haram is located.

The Image

By doing an image reverse search, the image in the viral post was found to have been taken from this article on the, a website dedicated to educating and assisting prospective Hajj pilgrims.

According to this website, the image is a "depiction" of the Kaaba (the Central building in Masjid al-Haram covered with a black cloth) surrounded by idols during the Jahiliyyah. Jahiliyyah, translated as "Age of Ignorance", refers to the period of time in Arabia before the advent of Islam. It also states that Muhammad destroyed the idols surrounding the Kaaba during the conquest of Mecca in 630 C.E. 

Whether the image is indeed from 1904 cannot be independently verified. The website states it is a "depiction". Idol worship is prohibited in Islam. Therefore, the presence of idols around the Kaaba as seen in the viral photo is dubious in a modern-day photograph. By "depiction", there is a possibility that this is a staged,  edited or computer-created image to represent the Kaaba during Jahiliyyah.

Finally, an image of Kaaba from circa. 1887 was found on the website of the American Magazine The Atlantic.

From the image, it is clear that the area and even the Kaaba were much more developed in 1887 than what is visible in the viral image, allegedly taken much later in 1904.

In conclusion, the viral post falsely links a photo of the barren lands around Kaaba to the Mughal's alleged inability to design and build formidable architectures. Furthermore, the claim that the photo is from 1904 Kaaba itself cannot be verified as true.

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