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Reasons Behind The Existence Of The Dome Of The Rock (Essay Sample)


An essay was asked to be written on controversies surrounding the dome of the rock. Th reason behind the controversies and theories from muslim, jewish and christian religion claiming which religion dome of the rock REPRESENTS.

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Reasons behind the existence of The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock considered to be one of the oldest and influential manifestations of Islamic architecture was built in the seventh century by Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik. He was born in Medina and known to be the 5th Umayyad caliph. The Dome of the Rock is located in the Old City of Jerusalem and is believed to hold religious significance for the three monotheistic religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The site was believed to be the location of Solomon’s temple and subsequently claimed as a Christian shrine before yielding it in to Islamic hands. According to Islamic tradition, the rock located in the centre of the building is the spot from which Prophet Mohammed rose to heaven. According to Jewish tradition, the rock is the spot where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. Christians believe it to be the spot where Jesus was judged by Pilate. Although it is perceived to uphold and represent more of Islamic beliefs, the ciborium based architecture and some inscriptions present inside the dome indicate influence of Christianity. The polytheistic nature of this structure and the inscriptions in it referring to Jesus Christ gives way to many speculations. It also provides the motive to explore the reasons that inspired the Umayyad Caliph to erect the masterpiece.
At the beginning of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik reign, Christianity was widely followed and Islam was a relatively new religion in Jerusalem. However the Islamic minority couldn’t identify with the Idol worship and practices of Christianity, often referring to them “People of the Book. The construction of the rock could be considered as an effort to increase the Islamic following and convincing the Christian population of the relevance of teachings of Islam over the Old testaments. The Christian influence in the architecture could be tactful move to not antagonize or disregard the Christian faith. He carefully designed it to look like a church but with teachings of Islam inscribed inside the dome. The Dome is built on an octagonal base with the Rock at the centre surrounded by two arcades. The outer arcade has teachings in Arabic for Muslims and the inner arcade has teachings inscribed for Christians. The inner readings are inscribed in a clockwise direction so that on completion of the circuit one faces his back to the rock and is forced to face the south, pointing to Mecca.
Since the Rock was believed to be of Christian significance, facing ones back to it was considered equivalent to disrespecting the religion. Additionally, this differs from the symbolism of Christianity as they entered the Dome from west, facing eastward...
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