Last updated on: 6/26/2008 | Author:

What Is the Dome of the Rock?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)


This site was archived on Aug. 3, 2021. The two-state solution is no longer the most popular solution among the jurisdictions involved. A reconsideration of the topic is possible in the future.

Richard Ettinghausen, PhD, the late historian of Islamic art, and Oleg Grabar, PhD, Professor Emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study of the School of Historical Studies, Princeton University, in their 2001 book The Art and Architecture of Islam 650-1250, wrote the following:

Click to view historic Dome of the Rock pictures

“Completed in 691, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is the earliest remaining Islamic monument, and in all probability the first major artistic endeavour of the Umayyads [the first Muslim dynasty 661-749]. The reason for its erection are not given in literary or epigraphic sources. It eventually became connected with the miraculous Night Journey of the Prophet at the Masjid al-Aqsa (the ‘remoter mosque’, Koran XVII,I) — generally presumed to be in Jerusalem, although the earliest evidence in our possession is not clear on this point — and with Muhammad’s ascent into Heaven from the Rock. This is today the conception of the Muslim believer.

In fact, however, the location of the mosque on Mount Moriah [Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif], traditionally accepted as the site of the Jewish Temple and associated with many other legends and historical events, its decoration of Byzantine and Sasanian crowns and jewels in the midst of vegetal motifs, its physical domination of the urban landscape of Jerusalem, and its inscriptions with their many precisely chosen Koranic quotations suggest that the original purposes of the Dome of the Rock were to emphasize the victory of Islam that completes the revelation of the two other monotheistic faiths, and to compete in splendour and munificence with the great Christian sanctuaries; it is even possible that to the Umayyads it had the meaning of a dynastic shrine with Solomonic connotations through the representation of paradise-like trees. Only after the full establishment of the Islamic state as the governing body of the Near East did these precise early aims fade away, to be replaced by a religious explanation probably derived from popular piety.”


Albert Hourani, the late Oxford Historian, in his 1991 book entitled A History of the Arab Peoples, wrote the following about the Dome of the Rock:

Click to view historic Dome of the Rock pictures

“In the 690s [A.D.] there was erected the first great building which clearly asserted that Islam was distinct and would endure. This was the Dome of the Rock, built on the site of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, now turned into a Muslim haram; it was to be an ambulatory for pilgrims around the rock where, according to Rabbinic tradition, God had called upon Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. The building of the Dome in this place has been convincingly interpreted as a symbolic act placing Islam in the lineage of Abraham and dissociating it from Judaism and Christianity. The inscriptions around the interior, the earliest known physical embodiment of texts from the Qur’an, proclaim the greatness of God, ‘the Mighty, the Wise’, declare that ‘God and His angels bless the Prophet’, and call upon Christians to recognize Jesus as an apostle of God, His word and spirit, but not His son.”