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The Umayyad Dome Of The Rock

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Published: Fri, 21 Apr 2017

The Umayyad Dome of the Rock is one of the fundamental works of Islamic architecture. The Umayyad Dome of the Rock is renowned work of art and architecture, which had a number of implicit meanings among which it is possible to single out political implications and correlations to Biblical scriptures. In addition, the Umayyad Dome of the Rock reveals the impact of external factors, including the impact of Christianity and Judaism on the architecture of the dome. Historically, Islam and Judaism were closely intertwined, although Islam had appeared centuries ago since the appearance of Judaism and Christianity. Many specialists view Judaism as one of the major monotheistic religion, which became the precursor of such world religions as Christianity and Islam (Cowling, 2005). In fact, the emergence of Islam was the development of the new religion, which had a lot of similarities to Judaism and Christianity. In such a context, the similarity between Islam, Christianity and Judaism can be viewed as the result of the historical interaction between these religions. The development of Islam was closely intertwined with Judaism and Christianity because representatives of these religions have interacted since ancient time. Even though Islam emerged in the seventh century AD, the population converted to Islam had an extensive experience of interaction with Judaist, whereas Jews always lived in Muslim countries. In such a way, the interaction between Islam, Christianity and Judaism was determined by the historical development of both religions and it was grounded on the neighborhood of both cultures. In such a context, the implicit meaning of the Umayyad Dome of the Rock reveals not only hidden Islamic context and meaning but also it reveals the influence of Christianity and Judaism on Islam. The influence can be traced through the architectural form and the form of the Dome, which is borrowed from Christianity and Judaism.

At first glance the Umayyad Dome of the Rock is the manifestation of the traditional Islamic architecture. The Umayyad Dome of the Rock was built in Jerusalem, the city, which was sacred for Muslims as well as representatives of other mainstream religions in the region, such as Judaism and Christianity. It is important to place emphasis on the fact that “the holiness of Jerusalem was, after all, inherited by Islam from Judaism and Christianity” (Rabbat, 14). Therefore, the construction of the Umayyad Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem was an important decision and, in all probability, it was determined by the importance of building in the political and religious context. In fact, the construction of the Umayyad Dome of the Rock was the attempt to show the power of Islam and its domination in the Holy City – Jerusalem.

On the other hand, specialists point out that “the Dome of the Rock has no immediately discernible purpose or function other than the commemorative one, and even that is riddled with uncertainties” (Rabbat, 12). However, such uncertainty concerning the purpose of the construction of the Umayyad Dome of the Rock is caused by the variety of implications concerning the meaning of the building and its purposes. In other words, the diversity of views on the Umayyad Dome of the Rock leads to the emergence of numerous interpretations of the meaning of the building. The Umayyad Dome of the Rock represents the manifestation of the Islamic architecture. The Dome is executed in architectural traditions typical for Islam, including the interior design, deprived of pictures and having citations from Quran.

On the other hand, specialists point out that it is necessary to view the “Dome as a monument which used Biblical connotations and Christian-Byzantine forms to impose Islam’s presence in the Holy City. The combination would imply that the new faith considered itself the continuation and the seal of the two preceding ones: Judaism and Christianity” (Rabbat, 12-13). Such a conclusion derives from the monumental architecture and the location of the building. The Umayyad Dome of the Rock has incorporated elements of Biblical texts and scriptures. Hence, the Umayyad Dome of the Rock reveals the close links of Islam with other religions, such as Christianity and Judaism. Basically, it is possible to trace the links to Biblical texts through the scriptures within the Dome that reveals the connection between Islam and other religions which used Biblical scriptures as a source of sacred texts.

The similar trends between religions can be traced by similarities of their religious concepts and ideas. For instance, Christianity, Islam and Judaism are monotheistic. Judaism was one of the first monotheistic religions, whereas Islam is one of the latest world religions, which had gained the public approval and support of many believers. Christianity, Judaism and Islam recognize one God only, although each religion has its own God.

In addition, similarities can be traced in sacred texts and books of Judaism and Islam. Islam and Judaism have similarities in sacred texts because their sacred texts are interrelated. To put it more precisely, they often refer to similar or identical events in the history and religious life of Jews and Muslims (Ross, 1984). As a result, they focus on similar events but the interpretation of these events as well as their details may differ depending on the religion.

Hence, the elements of Biblical texts and Christian and Judaist concepts can be traced in the Umayyad Dome of the Rock. Therefore, the Dome became a symbol of the superiority of Islam over other religions because elements of Biblical texts show that Islam is superior to other religions (Esposito, 1998). At the same time, it is possible to presuppose that the Biblical elements in the Umayyad Dome of the Rock can be determined by the attempt of architects to show the power of Islam and its superiority in regard to other religions. In such a way, the Umayyad Dome of the Rock could symbolize the superiority of Islam because it showed that all Biblical texts and sacred texts of Christianity and Judaism were incorporated in the Umayyad Dome of the Rock that implies their subordination to Islam.

In addition, specialists (Rabbat, 15) point out the political implications of the Umayyad Dome of the Rock. What is meant here is the fact that the Umayyad Dome of the Rock could be constructed to the show the power of the ruling dynasty (Cowling, 2005). To put it more precisely, the ruling dynasty attempts to show its respect to God and religion. In such a context, the construction of the Umayyad Dome of the Rock was the manifestation of the attempt of the ruling dynasty to leave its trace in history of Islam and to show its power. At the same time, the construction of the Umayyad Dome of the Rock implied that the ruling dynasty is eternal because its rule will last as long as the Umayyad Dome of the Rock stands. In such a context, the Umayyad Dome of the Rock has a symbolic political meaning. In addition, the building was constructed in Jerusalem, which was not only the religious center but also the subject of heat political struggle. For instance, Crusades always aimed at the invasion of Jerusalem, whereas Muslims always attempted to preserve the city as the Holy City of Islam.

Thus, the Umayyad Dome of the Rock had multiple meanings and implications. The Dome has religious, political and cultural implications of the construction of the Umayyad Dome of the Rock. The main point of the construction of the Umayyad Dome of the Rock was to show the superiority of Islam and Islamic culture over other religions and cultures. The Dome was constructed to show the power of the ruling dynasty, which constructed the Umayyad Dome of the Rock. In such a way, the Umayyad Dome of the Rock became a symbol of Islam in Jerusalem.


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