The sanctified rock that the Dome of the Rock is built over was previously considered as sacred a long time prior to the arrival of Islam. It was previously and still is believed by the Jews to be the very place where Abraham arranged to forfeit Isaac. What is more is that the Dome of the Rock or the adjoining Dome of the Chain is believed by a number of people to stand just above the location of the Holy of Holies of both Solomon’s Temple and Herod’s Temple.
As mentioned previously, the Dome of the Rock was constructed by the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik from 688 to 691 AD. The basic purpose was to build a shrine for pilgrims and not a mosque. Two rationalizations have been made all the way through history as probable reasons for the construction of the Dome of the Rock. According to the first explanation, the Dome of the Rock was constructed as a memorial monument for the Prophet Muhammad’s Night Journey. But, there seems to have been more behind the purpose of its construction bearing in mind the fact that the Dome of the Ascension was built nearby later on. According to a number of sources, the main purpose of the construction and the intention of Abd al-Malik were more multifaceted and clever (Ockman, 2002). The chief wish of Abd al- Malik was to raise a fine-looking Muslim building that could contend with the royal churches of Christendom and would be a representative statement to both Jews and Christians of the dominance of the new faith of Islam. The location was one which could be revered by the Jews and the interior decoration was one that could be somewhat like the decoration of the Christians. In the middle ages, it was believed by both the Christians and Muslims that the dome was the biblical Temple of Solomon. The Knights Templar made their headquarters there for the period of the Crusades and afterwards ornate their churches after its design.
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