Sat, Dec 29, 2018 - Page 14 News List

Bilingual Arts: The Dome of the Rock

The Dome of the Rock (Mosque of Omar) as seen on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

According to the Koran, on the night of July 27 in the year 621, the Prophet Mohammed (c. 570-632), responding to a call from Allah, rode on a steed called Buraq from Mecca to the “Farthest Mosque” where Mohammed is said to have been granted an audience with Allah. The famous trip is known as the Night Journey and Ascension to Heaven and is the origin of the Muslim holiday celebrating the Isra and Miraj.

The Dome of the Rock located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem was built between 688 and 692 and is constructed around a large foundation stone which, according to legend, is where Mohammed ascended to heaven.

The Dome of the Rock is the oldest extant work of Islamic architecture and has undergone a number of restorations throughout its more than 1000-year history. During the early days of Islam, the Dome of the Rock’s exterior was not a uniform shape. In fact, its later octagonal construction is thought to have been inspired by a nearby Christian church, so that the Dome of the Rock’s archetypal dome, familiar today, in fact borrows its origins from Byzantine architecture. Furthermore, the minaret which now dominates the skyline next to the Dome of the Rock was not an original feature of the temple.

A unique aspect of the Dome of the Rock’s architecture is that inside the temple there are no statues, portraits or offerings since Islam emphasizes the exclusive worship of Allah and forbids any worship of other idols. For this reason, the interior of the temple is made up only of columns and decoration on the walls and dome, which feature scriptures written in a variety of Arabic calligraphy styles and abstract decorative designs.

The Dome of the Rock’s interior makes use of a large amount of geometric imagery and complex ceremonial floral designs, while repeating, rhythmical visuals abound which give worshippers a feeling of the order and never-ending magnitude of the universe.

(Translated by Edward Jones)







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