The Dome of the Rock Jerusalem

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The Dome of the Rock – Jerusalem

The Dome of the Rock is absolutely the most significant Islamic structure on earth that is perched high above Jerusalem on the Temple Mount that is known as Haram al-Sharif. The golden dome and brilliant exterior mosaic that was sponsored by a Muslim ruler Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik to be of spiritual and political significance depicts an agreement, promise, victory and splendor of the Islamic faith. It is undeniable that the Dome of the Rock is one of the greatest artistic works and its visual indicates that the structure’s religious function is surpassed by its physical manifestation. Many meanings and history relate to the Dome of the Rock but what remains significant is the location on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem as well as the beauty and monumentality.

The Jews believe Temple Mount in Jerusalem is Mount Moriah where Abraham’s sacrifice took place and that it is the center of the world as well as the presumed site of Solomon’s Temple built under Solomon’s reign. It is therefore apparent that the Dome of the Rock is looked at in terms of its relationship with existing beliefs and the sacredness connected to it including prevailing principle of Islam, Abrahamic faiths, Judaism and Christianity. It is apparent that the Dome of the Rock has significance in Islam, Jewish and Christian beliefs even though it was constructed to show the superiority and legitimacy of Islam especially the power the religion has over Jerusalem. The Dome of the Rock is seen as Solomon’s Temple rebuilt and that it has drawn parallels between Islam and Judaism because Muslims view the Koran, as ‘True Torah’ and that Muslims are the true people of Israel.

By looking at the Dome of the Rock’s location, there is evidence of the religious landscape of Israel on the Temple Mount and the awareness of the sacredness and spirituality is also integrated with social and political implications. The expansive rectangular structure is about 500 by 300 meters and covers an area of almost 37 acres while sitting on a smaller trapezoidal platform that is west of center on the Temple Mount. The Dome of the Rock dominates the surrounding topography and is surrounded by huge Al-Aqsa mosque and many other tiny Islamic structures. The structure has been labeled many with many architectural terms but is popularly known as the ciborium that symbolizes the vault of heaven and has a large slab of bedrock that protrudes from below the Temple Mount up into the Dome of the Rock. The large slab of bedrock serves the main function of the structure of housing the rock because Muslims believe that the prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven thus making it a commemorative structure.

The Dome of the Rock is one of the greatest architectural works due to the aesthetical utilization of geometrical strategy and great size as well as its external legibility. The centrally planned structure is octagonal in plan with two octagonal ambulatories that flank a circular opening where the rock decides and the outer ambulatory is made up of eight piers and twelve columns while the rock projects approximately five feet above the building level. The Rock of the Dome’s structural layout tends to inhibit viewing of the rock and the dome from outside the building, something that reinforces the dominating opinion that main issue was to focus on the building’s exterior as a symbol of Islam’s strength and authority. 240-metre long inscription in the mosaic frieze circling the octagonal arcade and part of the inner praises God and the Prophet and mostly use Koranic quotations. The inscriptions symbolizes decorative motifs that are reminiscent of the styles of late Antiquity in the Mediterranean and its magnificently colored exterior sets it from other monuments thus commanding a stately appearance.

Sacred Interpretations

The Dome of the Rock’s location on Temple Mount is associated with the Islamic conquest during the time in 638 CE after almost 300 years of Christian dominancy. The Muslim leader Umar ibn al-Khattab who was led on a tour by the Christian patriarch Sophronious ex-ruler of Jerusalem was interested in “islamization” of Jerusalem and in the Temple Mount. During the reign of Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik, plans were put forward to develop on the Temple Mount and finally the Dome of the Rock was constructed though the building was motivated by both religious and secular motives.

Clearly, the Temple Mount means a lot to each of the Abrahamic faiths and the Roman pagans whereas the Jews believed that it was a site of the Jewish Temple and the location where Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac as well as a representative of sacred time. The Temple stood for the past, future and that the Jews believed that the Temple will be rebuilt and Messiah will come but during the reign of Hadrian, it symbolized the authority and influence of Rome and victory over Judaism. On the other hand, Christians saw the Temple Mount as a testament to the superiority of Christianity over Judaism but Umar ibn was interested in the site because it was an ancient Jewish holy site. Umar was convinced that Jewish traditions hugely influenced the development of early Islam and therefore being at the site would mean a lot to the Islamic religion.

Role played by the Rock

In these early associations, the rock plays a crucial role and beginning in 17th century, the rock appeared mainly as a symbol of the Jewish Temple even though at that time, there were no attachment to the rock during the Islamic conquest. The rock was initially not a point of focus on the Temple Mount even though it later merited an extravagant commemorative feature. Abd al-Malik only became interested in the rock after ascending to power, almost 60 years after the Islamic conquest because of his belief on the authority and power of the Islam as well as the association of the place with the Jewish religion. It was apparent that the jewish association with Mount Moriah and the Rock influenced Abd al-Malik to build in that particular location especially the identification of the Mount as omphalos or the center of the earth, something that meant a lot to the Jews. Sacrifice of Abraham that took place at that specific location was also crucial to both the Jewish and Muslim because of the sacred association of the event.

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