The Sunshine of Jerusalem

By Amal Farhan

The Dome of the Rock combines incomparable beauty with supreme spiritual significance. It is a must to study its history in order to understand why it holds such a high rank among other Islamic landmarks.

-Why It’s Historically Stirring

It is enough to say that this shrine houses the rock on which our Prophet Muhammad PBUH ascended to Heaven on the night of Israa and Mi’raj.

Images shows the location of the Rock in the past

-Who are the masterminds behind this remarkable construction?

The two architects in charge of the project were Raja ibn Haywah and Yazid Ibn Salam. The order to build it was given by Umayyad Caliph Abdul Malik Bin Marwan.

 

-What is phenomenal about its architecture?

Man created machines to make building and architecture easier. But when the Dome of the Rock was built (approx.1400 years ago), it required excellent workmanship.

 

Its shiny wooden dome, which is approximately 20 meters in diameter, rises to a height of some 30 meters above the surrounding stone-paved platform.

The structure is basically octagonal, each of the eight sides being about 18 meters wide and 8 meters high. Both the dome and the exterior walls contain many windows. Extensive decoration including mosaics, painted wood, marble, multi-colored tiles, carpets, and carved stone, covers the exterior and interior of the building.

The Dome of the Rock has verses of the Quran inscribed along 240m surrounding the building.

 

-Is this a mosque?

This remarkable building called Qubbat al Sakhrah in Arabic is not a mosque as commonly assumed rather it is a shrine. It was not built facing Mecca but as an octagonal form corresponding to the points of the compass. The main entrance unlike other mosques  is from the south, not the South-East.

 

The Dome of the Rock is the first domed shrine to be built. Even though it is one of the oldest buildings relating to Islamic architecture, it still stands out as a masterpiece and is indeed Jerusalem’s most recognizable landmark. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with two nearby Temple Mount structures.

Parapet bands with inscription from Surat al-Yassin. Qubbat al-Sakhra / Dome of the Rock. Masjid al-Aqsa, Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem.

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