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The Dome Of The Rock

The Dome of the Rock
The Night Journey
Muslim Jerusalem

The Dome of the Rock from the East
After completion of the Dome of the Rock


The Dome of the Rock

Jerusalem became known as Al- Quds, The Holy. Many of the Prophet's Companions travelled to worship at the blessed spot to which Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, was brought by night and from which he ascended through the heavens to his Lord. According to the authenticated tradition of the Prophet, travel for the sake of worship is undertaken to only three mosques; the Sacred Mosque in Makkah, the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah, and the Furthest Mosque in Jerusalem.

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The Dome Of The Rock

In 685AD the Umayyad Khalif, 'Abdul Malik ibn Marwan, commenced work on the Dome of the Rock. Essentially unchanged for more than thirteen centuries, the Dome of the Rock remains one of the world's most beautiful and enduring architectural treasures.Glimpses of History

The beauty and tranquillity of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem attracts thousands of visitors of all faiths every year. Many believe it was the site of the Temple of Solomon, peace be upon him, destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC, or the site of the Second Temple, completely destroyed by the Romans in 70AD.

For Muslims the area has a special significance, as the site of the Prophet Muhammad's Night Journey, peace and blessings be upon him, and as the first qibla (direction of prayer) for Islam.

The Night Journey


In the ninth year of the Prophet's mission, about 620 AD, Muhammad rose in the middle of the night to visit the Sacred Mosque in Makkah. After a time of worship he fell asleep near the Ka'aba. The angel Gabriel came to him and woke him from his slumber. He led the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, to the edge of the sacred Makkan mosque. Awaiting them was al-Buraq, a white winged beast "whose each stride stretched as far as the eye could see." Muhammad mounted al-Buraq and sped northwards with Gabriel to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the Furthest Mosque.

When they reached Jerusalem the Prophet dismounted and prayed near the Rock. Abraham, Moses, Jesus and other prophets, peace be upon them all, gathered together to pray behind him. Gabriel brought Muhammad a vessel of wine and a vessel of milk. The Prophet chose the milk and Gabriel said, 'You have chosen the true religion'.

The Prophet then embarked on the ascension (Miraj) in which he, peace and blessings be upon him, received the command to pray five times a day and the revelation encapsulating the beliefs of Islam:

"The Messenger believes in what was sent down to him from his Lord. And the believers; each one believes in Allah and His angels and in His books and His messengers. We make no division between any one of His messengers. And they say: We hear and we obey. Oh Lord, grant us Thy forgiveness; unto Thee we return." Qur'an II/285

Muslim Jerusalem

In 638, just a few years after the death of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, an army of his followers surrounded Jerusalem. The city Patriarch, Sophronius, handed over the city after a brief siege. There was only one condition; that the terms of their surrender be negotiated directly with 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, the second Khalif of Islam.
'Umar entered Jerusalem on foot. There was no bloodshed. There were no massacres. Those who wanted to leave were allowed to, with all their possessions. Those who wanted to stay were guaranteed protection for their lives, their property, and their places of worship in the 'Umariyya Covenant.

The 'Umariyya Covenant
For the first time in its long history, Jerusalem had been spared a bloodbath.
It is said that 'Umar accompanied Sophronious to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and that he was offered a place to pray in it. 'Umar declined, fearing it might establish a precedent which would threaten the church's continued use as a Christian house of worship. He prayed instead to the south of the church, now the site of the Mosque of 'Umar in Jerusalem.

'Umar then asked to be taken to the site of Al Aqsa Mosque. Accompanied by hundreds of Muslims, he found the area covered in dust and debris and immediately initiated its clearing.

The Dome of the Rock from the East

The gold dome stretches 20 metres across the Noble Rock, rising to an apex more than 35 metres above it. The Qur'anic verse 'Ya Sin' is inscribed across the top in the dazzling tile work commissioned in the 16th century by Suleiman the Magnificent.

'Ya Sin.
By the wise Qur'an.
Surely you are among those sent on a straight path.
A revelation of the Mighty, the Compassionate.
That you might warn a people whose fathers were never warned, so they are heedless.'
Qur'an, 36:1-6

After completion of the Dome of the Rock

, construction began at the site of the original timber mosque built in the time of 'Umar. A vast congregational mosque rose up, accommodating more than five thousand worshippers. Originally commissioned by 'Abdul Malik ibn Marwan, it was apparently completed by his son Al-Walid in 705AD.

The building became known as Masjid al-Aqsa, Al-Aqsa Mosque, although in reality the whole area of the Noble Sanctuary is considered Al-Aqsa Mosque, the entire precincts inviolable according to Islamic law. Every Friday prayer, the Al-Aqsa Mosque building overflows, with thousands of worshippers who must make their prayers outside in the courtyards of the vast open expanse of the Noble Sanctuary.

While the Dome of the Rock was constructed as a mosque to commemorate the Prophet's Night Journey, the building known as Al-Aqsa Mosque became a centre of worship and learning, attracting great teachers from all over the world.

It has been modified several times to protect it from earthquakes, which sometimes occur in the area, and to adapt to the changing needs of the local population. The form of the present structure has remained essentially the same since it was reconstructed by the Khalif Al-Dhahir in 1033 AD. It is said that he did not alter it from the previous architecture except to narrow it on each side.


Last updated 1 January 2000 Written and   Designed  By Rafic Adnan  El-saleh
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