The Dome of the Rock

April 6, 2018 Architecture

I agree with you in many ways. Jerusalem is the single most complex city in terms of cultural, religious and historical importance to the world’s leading monotheist belief; Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. You mentioned (and I agree) that the Dome is one of the earliest Islamic monuments that have survived and the original purpose for its creation has been the subject of much debate. You also highlighted that the Dome is so unique for Islam not only because of its artistic decoration but also because of the various important religious narrations that are associated with it.

In this article, the writer notes that the city Jerusalem is one of the most venerated holy locations in the world and that not only Christianity and Judaism, but also Islam has many venerable sites of worship within the city. All three major religions in the world are therefore focused upon this city in the religious meaning of their worship. The writer points out that as such, The Dome of the Rock is an edifice that carries important meaning for the Islamic religion.

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The building is also however the focus of many different interpretations in terms of both iconography and purpose. The paper considers these in light of the building’s history and mosaic decorations. The writer concludes that the majesty of the structure of the Dome of the Rock, along with the significance of its artistic decoration surpasses the boundaries of culture. Indeed, the very fact of its intercultural influence indicates the Dome’s significance to a widely intercultural audience.

The Dome of the Rock was built by the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik and completed in 691 AD. While it is the earliest Islamic monument that has survived and one of the most admired ones, the original purpose for its creation have been the subject of much debate from the late Middle Ages to this day. Its location, on the top of Mount Moriah, which is also known as Temple Mount, associates the building with a rich tradition of Muslim, Jewish and Christian narratives. nd the area to which he predicted: “There will not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down” (Mark 13:2). Today the Dome is mainly perceived in the Islamic world as the commemoration of the marvelous story of the night journey of the Prophet Muhammad (al-Isra’) and his ascension to the sky (al-mi`raj). It is believed that one night, while Muhammad was sleeping near the Ka’ba in Mecca, he was taken by the Angel Gabriel on a legendary steed named al-Burak to al-Masjid al-Aqsa (the farthest mosque) in Jerusalem.

From the rock Muhammad ascended to the sky where he met all the prophets who had preceded him (such as Moses, Josef and Christ), witnessed paradise and hell and finally saw God sitting on his throne circumambulated by angels. The building of the Dome of the Rock surrounds the somber rock by two sets of colonnades and an octagonal exterior wall. The central colonnade made of four piers and twelve columns support a rounded drum that transitions into the two-layered dome, which is more than 20m in diameter.

Light that enters from grilled windows pierced in the drum and exterior wall glitters on golden mosaics and depictions of jewels, and Byzantine and Sassanian crowns in the midst of vegetal motifs. Those decorations have been interpreted as trophies that show the victory of Islam or as depictions of paradise. Quotations from the Koran are inscribed on the arcades and attest the role of Muhammad and of Islam and clarify the perception of Jesus Christ (‘Isa) in Islam as an important prophet but not the son of God or God himself.

The exterior walls were richly decorated with marble and mosaics similar to the interior. In the 16th century though, at the time of the Ottoman ruler Suleyman the Magnificent the exterior decoration was replaced by Turkish faience tiles, which in turn were widely replaced by a faithful copy made in Italy in the 1960s. for muslims the site is important not only because of Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of isaac but also because it is believed that the Prophet Muhammad was carried off by the archangel Gabriel on a winged horse to the furthermost place” (el aqsa), from which he rose to heaven. n heaven  Mohammad is said to have met God face to face returnign home the same night bearing with him God’s commandment for his followers. for this reason the El Aqsa mosque became a particularly sacrd site for Islam. the dome of the rock is one of the finest and most ancient buildings of Islam. it gleams both inside and out with rich golds, turquoises and other colors, and has often been compared with a perfect gemstone. the dome is not a mosque, and was not designed to hold a large congregation, it was constructed to cover eh rock and provide a place of prayer and a focus for pilgrim visits.

The three main reasons that make the Dome of the Rock so unique and important for Muslims are the following:- the city it’s built in, its religious meaning and its magnificent architectural design. On a religious level, a host of associations biblical and mostly Old Testament ones were attached to nearly all identifiable places in the area. The place is not only the place where the second Jewish Temple was built, but is also associated with the first Jewish Temple of Solomon. In addition, the Rock was considered to be the place where Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac.

It is in the same location where numerous the important events in the life of Christ are assumed to have happened. For Muslims, the site is important mainly because it is believed that the Prophet Muhammad was carried off by the archangel Gabriel on a winged horse to the furthermost place” (el Aqsa), from which he rose to heaven. This makes the Dome uniquely Islamic, for all the other Old Testament stories mentioned belong to the two other monotheistic religions in Jerusalem, Judaism and Christianity.

Since the association of the Dome with the story of the night journey appeared in texts only several decades later, some theories suggest that the main purpose of the building was to express the victory of Islam in the recently conquered dominantly Christian city. For Muslims, arrival in Jerusalem was an event of immense importance. It was a homecoming of sorts, a physical return to the city of their fathers in religion. Another theory goes as far as to suggest that in response to the political tensions that endangered the pilgrims performing the Hajj to Mecca in those unstable times. The builder Abd al-Malik, also had his own ambitions: he wished to impress his fellow Arabs by showing that Muslims could build magnificent structures to rival the Christian shrines of Jerusalem. Whatever other motives and ideologies are apparent in the Dome of the Rock or were involved in its construction, the Dome has been a religious monument reflecting and representing Islam for centuries. . Muslims pointed out the spots where David, Solomon, and Elijah had prayed. Some could see Enoch’s footprint on the rock. This was one of the places where heaven and earth met; it had helped Muslims to start on their journey to God.

The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is a great monument of world architecture and one of the holiest places on earth to Muslims. it . Islam not grafts itself physically onto these ancient traditions in a way that symbolized the continuity and wholeness of the Quraniic vision. And finally on a level of power and domination, the dome stands as a vivid reminder of the triumph f Christianity Jerusalem is the single most complex city in terms of cultural, religious and historical importance to the world’s leading monotheist belief _ Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.

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