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The author most probably mentions early mosques that did not face Mecca in order to
These mosques are the evidence used by Professor Crone to support, not refute, her theory. Therefore, presenting them would not help the author disprove the theory. He or she must have mentioned it for another reason.
There is nothing in this sentence which implies that the author is impressed with the creativity of Professor Crone's theory - this is a detail taken from the first sentence of the second paragraph in order to confuse you.
Early mosques are evidence in support of Professor Crone's theory, not the traditional account of the rise of Islam.
The author does not use this detail to criticize Professor Crone's theory but rather to lay out the evidence which supports it.
The passage tells us that Professor Crone bases her theory on these mosques. In other words, they are the evidence that supports her theory.