THE FIRST ISLAMIC MONUMENT KUBBET’ÜS-SAHRA (DOME OF THE ROCK): A NEW PROPOSITION

Erdal Eser

Abstract


Holy places have an important part in people’s lives as areas in which belief in a way becomes visualized. Jerusalem appears as the holiest common area for Judaism, Christianity and Islam which are referred to as Abrahamic religions. In Grabar’s words, the city which has become the symbol of Palestine nationalism embodies significant places, structures and stories for all three religions.

For Muslims, the city is important since it is the first kiblah and due to the belief that the event of Isra referred to in Qur’an/night journey and Ascension (of the prophet Mohammed) have taken place in Jerusalem. As a result of the effect of this belief, the structure which was to be named Kubbet’üs-Sahra (Dome of the Rock) was built in the holiest point of Jerusalem in 692. Researchers who have analyzed the period and the structure suggest three different views as to why the structure was built. These can be expressed as follows: 1- It was built in the memory of Prophet Mohammed’s ascension; 2- Caliph Abd al-Malik got very excited upon seeing the Church of Ascension when he came to Jerusalem which was built by the order of Justinian and wished to have a similar structure built on a rock to prevent Muslims from being affected by the church; 3- The wish to have a structure built in Jerusalem which could compete with the Ka’bah and pilgrimage journey.     

The most researched point by the researchers along with why the structure was built is the origin of the plan of the structure. Noting that it was impossible for Muslims who did not have an art tradition to have built such a structure, it is suggested that the source of the plan was obtained from the Roman-Byzantium repertoire. What is more, the ornamentation technique and compositions are used to support this view. A new view on the origin argues in the favor of the legendary mausoleums of the ancient Arab kings which were built in Yemen area. The lack of a historical document indicates that this issue will be discussed for a long time to come.

In this abstract titled The first Islamic Monument Kubbet’üs-Sahra (Dome of the Rock): A New Proposition, current discussions and views on the structure will briefly be presented and the subject will be dealt in terms of the cultural environment of the period and Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik. A new evaluation will be presented on Kubbet’üs-Sahra which can without doubt be defined as the most controversial structure not only in Islamic art, but also in terms of the cultural history of the world. 


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