Jerusalem - The Dome of the Rock at Night

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) 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 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 (See Isra and Mi'raj). A Qur'anic verse says that Muhammad 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 (See 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 dreamt about angels ascending and descending on a ladder to heaven (See Genesis 28:10-19); but for Orthodox Jews, there is no doubt that all these events occurred on this spot.

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Taken on December 29, 2006