The Dome of the Rock
قبة الصخرة

A near view of the Dome of the Rock
© Photo Courtesy of Palestine Remembered

The Dome of the Rock was built on the site of the temples built by Solomon and Herod. It was completed in the seventh century A.D.

A view of the Dome of the Rock from the northeast.
From the Matson Collection

The Dome of the Rock is seen here from the northeast.

The Dome of the Rock sits at the center of the Noble Sanctuary. It was built over the rock, on which, according to legend, Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his son, and which, sometime in the tenth century B.C., David bought from a Jebusite for the site of his son Solomon's temple.1 This rock sat at or near the altar of the temples of Solomon and Herod.2

The same rock also plays a role in Muhammad's Night Journey.

The Dome of the Rock was constructed in the form of an octagon, on top of a plinth slightly above the level of the rest of the Noble Sanctuary.3

Inside the building, there are two concentric circles of columns. The inner circle supports the dome, which is over sixty feet in diameter.4

The interior of the Dome of the Rock and the rock itself
From the Matson Collection

The rock itself is shown here along with two of the interior columns that support the dome.

The design is thought to be more Byzantine than Arabic, since the Arabs, who conquered Jerusalem in the mid seventh century A.D., used the expertise of the Christian architects and builders locally available.5 Construction was completed in 692 A.D.6

1 Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, VII, xiii, 4
2 Jack Finegan, Light From the Ancient Past , (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1959), 180 and 326
3 Victor Guérin, La Terre Sainte, Son Histoire, Ses Souvenirs, Ses Sites, Ses Monuments , (Paris, E. Plon, Nourrit, et Cie, 1884), 124
4 Guérin, 124
5 Guérin, 124
6 Mariam Shahin, Palestine, A Guide, (Northampton: Interlink Books, 2007), 313


The Night Journey

سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَى بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلاً مِّنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ

Exalted is He Who carried his servant by night from the Holy Masjid to the Masjid Al-Aksa, which We blessed its surroundings that We might show him our signs. Indeed He is the All-Hearing and All-Seeing.

The Holy Quran, Al Israa 1

The story of the Night Journey, whether a physical or a spirtual journey, is a kind of parable describing the continuity of ideas connecting Islam with Judaism and Christianity.

The year is about 620 A.D. Muhammad has just lost his wife and his uncle, and spends the night praying at the Holy Masjid, in Mecca. He's sleeping near the Ka'ba - the black cubic building in the middle of the Holy Masjid - when an angel wakes him, and leads him to where a winged animal waits.

He mounts the winged creature and, in company with the angel, rides to Jerusalem. At the site of the long since destroyed temple, he prays with a group of Jewish prophets.

Muhammad then stands on the rock, which had been bought some sixteen hundred years earlier by David, and had stood near the altar of Solomon's Temple; then he ascended though the Seven Heavens, talked with Moses, Abraham, and Jesus and finally met the one true God.1

1 Information about the Night Journey is widely available. For example:
Tariq Ramadan, The Night Journey,, Accessed 10/10/2017
Aisha Stacey, The Night Journey and the Ascension,, Accessed 10/10/2017