The Dome of the Rock (Qubbatus Saqqara) is often mistakenly called the Al-Aqsa Mosque, but is actually part of the Masjid Al-Aqsa. This structure was built by Caliph Abd al-Malik from 688 to 691 CE. and contains the sacred rock, from which, as they say, the prophet Muhammad (saw) ascended to heaven (Mirage) after a night trip to Jerusalem (Isra).
At that time, the octagon-shaped building was the most modern design, built on a marble base, and the rest was made of wood, not stone. Four of the eight sides have doors, and seven windows on each side. The dome itself is 25 meters high and is covered with gold. The interior is decorated with mosaics, marble and verses from the the Only Quran. Architecture is considered a masterpiece due to the mathematical rhythm of its proportions. For example, each of the outer walls is 67 feet long, which exactly corresponds to the diameter of the dome, and is also the height from the base to the drum.
When the crusaders captured Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock mosque was renamed Templum Domini and a cross was erected on top of the golden dome. The stone inside was covered with an altar, and the Quran inscriptions were covered with Latin texts. The Qbly Mosque was renamed Templum Solomonis. This kingdom existed for 87 years, during which neither Jews nor Muslims were allowed to live within the walls of the city.
Ibn Qatir (may Allah shows mercy to him) writes in his book “Kamil at-Tavarikh” (“The Perfect Story”) about how Muslims recaptured Jerusalem from the Crusaders: “… At the top of the dome of the Stone Dome there was a large gilded cross. When the Muslims entered the city on Friday, some of them climbed to the top of the dome to remove the cross … … from the city and there was a loud cry outside the walls, the Muslims shouted “Allah-akbar” in their joy, the Franks moan with horror and sorrow. A cry so loud and shrill that the earth shook. … Salahuddin ordered to restore the shrines to their original condition. The Templars built their living quarters against Al-Aqsa with storerooms and latrines … It was all restored to its former condition. Sultan ordered that the Dome of the Rock be cleansed of all contaminants, and this was done … ”
The beautiful exterior tile that can be seen today was commissioned by Suleiman II Qanuni (the Lawgiver), known throughout Europe as Suleiman the Magnificent. With the incomparable mastery of the Persian ceramist masters, 40,000 tiles crowned with the inscription Sura Yassin, the 36th chapter, were launched and installed and are considered the heart of the Quran.
Inside the Dome, the main Quranic inscription above the arches of the inner arcade is addressed to “Followers of the Gospel”, that is, to Christians who deny the shocking idea that God gave birth to a son. He warns them against inaccurate and dangerous statements about God (in Sura An-Nisa):
“O people of Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion and do not say anything about Allah, except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was only the Messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He passed on to Mary, and the spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and do not say “three” (Trinity) – stop! (this) is better for you! – Allah is only one God. From His transcendental greatness, it is removed that he must have a son. Its all that is in heaven, and all that is in earth. And Allah is sufficient as a Protector. ” [4: 171]
The large golden dome, crowning the Dome of the Rock, was originally made of gold, but was replaced by copper and then aluminum. Aluminum is now covered in gold leaf, donated by the late King of Jordan Hussein. The dome is crowned with the decoration of the full moon, which is aligned so that if you could look through it, you looked straight into Mecca.
Jews and Christians believe that this is the place where the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) was decided to sacrifice his son Ishaq (peace be upon him), after having a dream to do so. This is a fundamental difference from the Muslim belief that it was his eldest son Ismail (peace be upon him) who was willing to sacrifice and that this happened in Mina, Saudi Arabia.
Orthodox Jews consider the Dome of the Rock the center of the world.
Sources: Palestine: Beginner’s guide – Ismail Adam Patel, Al-Quds – Mohammed Abdul Hameed Al-Khateeb, The Crusades – Christine Hatt, HUMA’S travel guide to Palestine.