Dome of the Rock
|Dome of the Rock|
|Administration||Ministry of Awqaf (Jordan)|
|Date established||Built 688–692|
The Dome of the Rock (Arabic: قبة الصخرة Qubbat al-Sakhrah, Hebrew: כיפת הסלע Kippat ha-Sela) is a shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. It was initially completed in 691 CE at the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik during the Second Fitna. The Dome of the Rock is now one of the oldest works of Islamic architecture. It has been called "Jerusalem's most recognizable landmark," and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with two nearby Temple Mount structures, the Western Wall, and the "Resurrection Rotunda" in the nearby Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Its architecture and mosaics were patterned after nearby Byzantine churches and palaces. The octagonal plan of the structure may also have been influenced by the Byzantine Church of the Seat of Mary (also known as Kathisma in Greek and al-Qadismu in Arabic) built between 451 and 458 on the road between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
The site's significance stems in part from religious traditions regarding the rock, known as the Foundation Stone, at its heart, which bears great significance for Jews and Muslims. It is recognized by all three Abrahamic religions as the site of Abraham's attempted sacrifice of his son, although they differ on which son was to be sacrificed. Judaism and Christianity believe it was Isaac, according to the Book of Genesis (Genesis 22:2 NRSV), and Islam upholds that it was Ishmael.
The Dome of the Rock is located at the visual center of a platform known in English as the Temple Mount and in Arabic as Al-Haram ash-Sharif, or "the Noble Sanctuary". It was constructed on the site of the Second Jewish Temple, which was destroyed during the Roman Siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE.
Muslims believe the location of the Dome of the Rock to be the site mentioned in Sura 17 of the Qur'an, which tells the story of the Isra and Mi'raj, the miraculous Night Journey of Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to "the farthest mosque", where he leads prayers and rises to heaven to receive instructions from Allah. The Night Journey is mentioned in the Qur'an in a very brief form and is further elaborated by the hadiths. Caliph Umar ibn Al-Khattab (579–644) was advised by his associate, Ka'ab al-Ahbar, a Jewish rabbi who converted to Islam, that "the farthest mosque" is identical with the site of the former Jewish Temples in Jerusalem.
The Dome of the Rock is situated in the center of the Temple Mount, the site where the Jewish First Temple and Second Temple had stood. The Second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE by the Romans, who built a temple to Jupiter on the site. During the Byzantine era, Jerusalem was primarily Christian, and pilgrims came by the tens of thousands to experience the first church of Christianity and places where Jesus walked.
Construction and dimensions
Following the Muslim Siege of Jerusalem in 637, the Dome of the Rock was constructed by the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik between 688 and 691 CE. The Temple Mount had by then been left undeveloped for centuries after another Jewish revolt against Roman rule in the fourth century CE.
Its architecture and mosaics were patterned after nearby Byzantine churches and palaces. The two engineers in charge of the project were Raja ibn Haywah, a Muslim theologian from Beit She'an and Yazid Ibn Salam, a non-Arab who was Muslim and a native of Jerusalem.
A.C. Cresswell in his book Origin of the plan of the Dome of the Rock notes that those who built the shrine used the measurements of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The diameter of the dome of the shrine is 20.20 m (66.3 ft) and its height 20.48 m (67.2 ft), while the diameter of the dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is 20.90 m (68.6 ft) and its height 21.05 m (69.1 ft).
The structure is basically octagonal. It comprises a wooden dome, approximately 20 m (66 ft) in diameter, which is mounted on an elevated drum consisting of a circle of 16 piers and columns. Surrounding this circle is an octagonal arcade of 24 piers and columns. The outer facade is made of porcelain and mirrors the octagonal design. They each measure approximately 18 m (60 ft) wide and 11 m (36 ft) high. Both the dome and the exterior walls contain many windows.
For centuries Christian pilgrims still were able to come and experience the Temple Mount, but escalating violence against pilgrims to Jerusalem (see Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah) instigated the Crusades. The Crusaders captured Jerusalem in 1099 and the Dome of the Rock was given to the Augustinians, who turned it into a church while the Al-Aqsa Mosque became a royal palace. The Knights Templar, who believed the Dome of the Rock was the site of the Temple of Solomon, later set up their headquarters in the Al-Aqsa Mosque adjacent to the Dome for much of the 12th century. The "Templum Domini", as they called the Dome of the Rock, featured on the official seals of the Order's Grand Masters (such as Everard des Barres and Renaud de Vichiers), and soon became the architectural model for round Templar churches across Europe.
Ayyubids and Mamluks
Jerusalem was recaptured by Saladin on 2 October 1187, and the Dome of the Rock was reconsecrated as a Muslim shrine. The cross on top of the dome was replaced by the Islamic crescent, and a wooden screen was placed around the rock below. Saladin's nephew al-Malik al-Mu'azzam Isa carried out other restorations within the building, and added the porch to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The Dome of the Rock was the focus of extensive royal patronage by the sultans during the Mamluk period, which lasted from 1250 until 1510.
Ottoman Empire (1517–1917)
During the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent (1520–1566) the exterior of the Dome of the Rock was covered with tiles. This work took seven years.
The interior of the dome is lavishly decorated with mosaic, faience and marble, much of which was added several centuries after its completion. It also contains Qur'anic inscriptions. Surah Ya Sin is inscribed across the top of the tile work and was commissioned in the 16th century by Suleiman the Magnificent. Al-Isra is inscribed above this.
From British Mandate to present
Haj Amin al-Husseini, appointed Grand Mufti by the British during the 1917 mandate of Palestine, along with Yaqub al-Ghusayn, implemented the restoration of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
The Dome of the Rock was badly shaken during an earthquake in Palestine on 11 July 1927, damaging many of the repairs that had taken place over previous years.
In 1955, an extensive program of renovation was begun by the government of Jordan, with funds supplied by the Arab governments and Turkey. The work included replacement of large numbers of tiles dating back to the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, which had become dislodged by heavy rain. In 1965, as part of this restoration, the dome was covered with a durable aluminium bronze alloy made in Italy, that replaced the lead exterior. The restoration was completed in August 1964.
A few hours after the Israeli flag was hoisted over the Dome of the Rock in 1967 during the Six-Day War, Israelis lowered it on the orders of Moshe Dayan and invested the Muslim waqf (religious trust) with the authority to manage the Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif, in order to "keep the peace".
In 1993, the golden dome covering was refurbished following a donation of $8.2 million by King Hussein of Jordan who sold one of his houses in London to fund the 80 kilograms of gold required.
The Dome is maintained by the Ministry of Awqaf in Amman, Jordan.
Until the mid-twentieth century, non-Muslims were not permitted in the area. Since 1967, non-Muslims have been permitted limited access; however non-Muslims are not permitted to pray on the Temple Mount, or carry any form of religious artifact or anything with Hebrew letters. The Israeli police help enforce this. Due to security concerns, Israel has restricted access of Palestinian residents of the West Bank to Jerusalem. Very rarely are exceptions made. West Bank Palestinian men must be over 35 to be eligible for a permit. Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, who hold Israeli residency cards, and Palestinians with Israeli citizenship are permitted unrestricted access.
In 2006, the Temple Mount was reopened to non-Muslim visitors during the hours of 7:30–11:30 am and 1:30–2:30 pm during summer and 7:30–10:30 am and 1:30–2:30 pm during winter (now the hours are 7:30-10:00 and 12:30-13:30 during winter). Non-Muslims are prohibited from entering after 2:30 pm and may not enter on Fridays, Saturdays, or Muslim holidays. Entry is through a wooden walkway next to the northern entrance to the Western Wall. Non-Muslims are prohibited from entering the mosques, entering the Dome of the Rock, and accessing the Temple Mount through the Cotton Market. Visitors are subject to strict security screening.
Some Orthodox rabbis encourage Jews to visit the site, while most forbid entry to the compound lest there be a violation of Jewish law. Even rabbis who encourage entrance to the Temple Mount prohibit entrance to the actual Dome of the Rock.
According to some Islamic scholars, the rock is the spot from which the Islamic prophet Muhammad ascended to Heaven accompanied by the angel Gabriel. Further, Muhammad was taken here by Gabriel to pray with Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Other Islamic scholars believe that the Prophet ascended to Heaven from the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The Foundation Stone and its surroundings is the holiest site in Judaism. Though Muslims now pray towards the Kaaba at Mecca, they once faced the Temple Mount as the Jews do. Muhammad changed the direction of prayer for Muslims after a revelation from Allah. Jews traditionally regarded the location of the stone as the holiest spot on Earth, the site of the Holy of Holies during the Temple Period.
According to Jewish tradition, the stone is the site where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. In the story of the near-sacrifice in the Quran, the son is not named, but the majority opinion among Muslims is that the son was Ishmael rather than Isaac.
33. "So peace is upon me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive!" 34. Such is Jesus, son of Mary. It is a statement of truth, about which they doubt. 35. It is not befitting to (the majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! when He determines a matter, He only says to it, "Be", and it is.
According to Goitein, the inscriptions decorating the interior clearly display a spirit of polemic against Christianity, whilst stressing at the same time the Qur'anic doctrine that Jesus was a true prophet. The formula la sharika lahu ("God has no companion") is repeated five times, the verses from Sura Maryam 19:35–37, which strongly reaffirm Jesus' prophethood to God, are quoted together with the prayer: Allahumma salli ala rasulika wa'abdika 'Isa bin Maryam – "O Lord, send your blessings to your Prophet and Servant Jesus son of Mary." He believes that this shows that rivalry with Christendom, together with the spirit of Muslim mission to the Christians, was at work at the time of construction.
Groups such as the Temple Mount and Eretz Yisrael Faithful Movement wish to relocate the Dome to Mecca and replace it with a Third Temple. Since Muslim religious foundations own the Dome and consider it particularly sacred such actions would inevitably lead to violence. Many Israelis are ambivalent about the Movement's wishes. Some religious Jews, following rabbinic teaching, believe that the Temple should only be rebuilt in the messianic era, and that it would be presumptuous of people to force God's hand. However, some Evangelical Christians consider rebuilding of the Temple to be a prerequisite to Armageddon and the Second Coming. Jeremy Gimpel, a US-born candidate for Habayit Hayehudi in the 2013 Israeli elections, caused a controversy when he was recorded telling a Fellowship Church evangelical group in Florida in 2011 to imagine the incredible experience that would follow were the Dome to be destroyed. All Christians would be immediately transported to Israel, he opined, perhaps whimsically.
This view is steeped in the belief that there will be a prophetic rebuilding of the Temple. It would be in place of the Dome of the Rock.
The Dome of the Rock has inspired the architecture of a number of buildings. These include the octagonal Church of St. Giacomo in Italy, the Mausoleum of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in Istanbul, the octagonal Moorish Revival style Rumbach Street Synagogue in Budapest, and the New Synagogue in Berlin, Germany. It was long believed by Christians that the Dome of the Rock echoed the architecture of the Temple in Jerusalem, as can be seen in Raphael's The Marriage of the Virgin and in Perugino's Marriage of the Virgin.
Stereo card of the Dome of Rock (late 19th century)
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Until 1833 the Dome of the Rock had not been measured or drawn; according to Victor von Hagen, 'no architect had ever sketched its architecture, no antiquarian had traced its interior design....' On 13 November in that year, however, Frederick Catherwood dressed up as an Egyptian officer and accompanied by an Egyptian servant 'of great courage and assurance', entered the buildings of the mosque with his drawing materials ... 'During six weeks, I continued to investigate every part of the mosque and its precincts.' Thus, Catherwood made the first complete survey of the Dome of the Rock, and paved the way for many other artists in subsequent years, such as William Harvey, Ernest Richmond and Carl Friedrich Heinrich Werner.
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