Dome Of The Rock Essay

2622 words - 11 pages

The Dome of the Rock, the famous and astoundingly beautiful structure stands in Jerusalem residing over where the Solomonic Temple, a scared Jewish spot, used to be. Built by caliph ‘Abd al-Malik, and completed in 692, as listed on the corner stone, it is a site of incredible importance to Muslims. Due to limited textual evidence, it is hard to say why the Dome of the Rock was built but historians peruse every bit of textual evidence and carefully analyze every detail of the Dome of the Rock in an everlasting struggle to understand the thought process of ‘Abd al-Malik so long ago. While that can never be done, historians can offer up theories, some more accepted than others, as to why the Dome of the Rock was built and what it truly represented. The most accepted theory is that caliph ‘Abd al-Malik built the Dome of the Rock to prove Islamic power over the people of his empire, specifically the Jews and Christians. It represented several things including dominance over religion, Islamic rule over the state while also honoring the scared rock of Zion and celebrating Muhammad’s famous isra’ and mi‘raj.
To understand ‘Abd al-Malik’s actions in reference to the Dome of the Rock, it is first important to understand the man himself. He came to power through force. In an effort to take over the empire ‘Abd al-Malik told Al- Hajjaj b. Yusuf to lead army of 2,000 into Kufa, he invaded in March of 692. This was the second time the Umayyads held siege of the city and many people feared starvation so they deserted the Zubayrid cause. The Civil War, long and brutal resulted in Marwanid victory and they took Mecca. ‘Abd al-Malik ruled conservatively to start. Soon after ‘Abd al-Malik defeated Ibn al- Zubayr and conquered Mecca he started building up his empire. ‘Abd al-Malik tried to present himself as a warrior-caliph. He achieved this by looking menacing in the artwork done of him. He would hold a sword and a whip and use that to try to assert his power over the empire. Little evidence survives explaining ‘Abd al-Malik private life but as a caliph, he demanded respect from his people while he ruled with justice. In addition, he is known to be the unifier of the Arab state. The Empire of ‘Abd al-Malik was “monotheist in its politic [and] more or less pluralist in its religion.” In short, this means that caliphs ruled on behalf of God. He tolerated other religions and his subjects were allowed to continue to practice their religious traditions. Overall people believed in the empire, it gave order to society and the system seemed to work. His predecessor, Mu’awiya, had a system that worked for him but it was a very fragile system that died with him. ‘Abd al-Malik wanted his government to outlive him. Nonetheless, Abd al-Malik relied too heavily on politics of factions and eventually factionalism led to the end of the Umayyad Empire.
There are conflicting reasons as to why the Dome of the Rock was built. The first and less accepted one is that caliph...

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