Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dome of the Rock

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Dome of the Rock, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Dome of the Rock (Arabic: مسجد قبة الصخرة, translit.: Masjid Qubbat As-Sakhrah, Hebrew: כיפת הסלע, translit.: Kipat Hasela, Turkish: Kubbetüs Sahra) is an Islamic shrine in what Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary (al-Haram al-Qudsi al-Sharif, Arabic: الحرم القدسي الشريف) — which Jews and Christians call Har ha-Bayit (Hebrew: הר הבית) or the Temple Mount — it remains one of the best known landmarks of Jerusalem. It was built between 687 and 691 by the 9th Caliph, Abd al-Malik, making it the oldest extant Islamic building in the world.

The rock in the center of the dome is the spot from which, according to Islamic tradition, Muhammad (Peace be upon him) ascended for a night-long journey to Heaven in AD 621, accompanied by the angel Gabriel. There he met many prophets like Abraham and Moses and was given the (now obligatory) Islamic prayers before returning to Earth. A Qur'anic verse says that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) took an instantaneous night journey on Buraq from al-Masjid al-Haram ("the sacred mosque", interpreted as being in Mecca) to al-Masjid al-Aqsa ("the farthest mosque", interpreted as being in Jerusalem)

In Judaism the stone is the site where Abraham fulfilled God's test to see if he would be willing to sacrifice his son Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19). (Muslims believe that this event involved Abraham's other son Ishmael and occurred in the desert of Mina where millions of Muslims offer pilgrimage every year).

There is some controversy among secular scholars about equating Mount Moriah (where Isaac's binding occurred according to the Biblical narrative), the Temple Mount, and the rock where Jacob dreamed about angels ascending and descending on a ladder to heaven (Genesis 28:10-19); but for Orthodox Jews, there is no doubt that all these events occurred on this spot.

Situated inside the Holy of Holies, this was the rock upon which the Ark of the Covenant was placed in the First Temple. During the Second Temple, the stone was used by High Priest who offered up the incense and sprinkled the blood of the sacrifices on it during the Yom Kippur Service. Rabbinic legend also alleges that the entire world was created from this stone, hence the name אבן השתייה, Foundation Stone.

In Christianity, in addition to Jesus's actions in the temple, it is believed that during the time of the Byzantine Empire, the spot where the Dome was later constructed was where Constantine's mother built a small church, calling it the Church of St. Cyrus and St. John, later on enlarged and called the Church of the Holy Wisdom.

On the walls of the Dome of the Rock is an inscription in a mosaic frieze that includes the following words:

"Bless your envoy and your servant Jesus son of Mary and peace upon him on the day of birth and on the day of death and on the day he is raised up again. It is a word of truth in which they doubt. It is not for God to take a son. Glory be to him when he decrees a thing he only says be and it is."
This appears to be the earliest extant citation from the Qur'an, with the date recorded as 72 after the Hijra (or 691-692 AD), which historians view as the year of the Dome's construction.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article, Dome of the Rock
This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States Federal Government under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code. High Resolution Image, (482 × 709 pixel, file size: 234 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg).

El Sakhra (a.k.a el Sakhra, the Rock, and the rock beneath the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem).
Rock Moriah, from the Dome of the Rock. High Res
This is half of a stereoscopic image in the Matson Collection of the Library of Congress. Originally, The Library of Congress horizontally flipped this online image (leading to multiple erroneous Wikipedia entries). The image has now been corrected.

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