Al-Masjid al-Haram and The Dome of the Rock
Two Holy Places for the Muslim Communities
Today many cultures have a lot of significant locations and buildings that many people consider sacred. For the United States “Ground Zero” or the 9/11 Memorial will always be considered a sacred place to Americans. This location tells a story of a tragic, yet significant event in our history that will never be forgotten. This location is a reminder of the reason why we have to come together as a nation and why we are in the conflict that we are in as we speak. Throughout the world there are many other places that have a similar story to tell. Muslims take their religion very serious and have a strict doctrine to abide by. Not only do they take their acts of faith serious, they also take their places of worship serious and treat them in such the same manner. They keep these sacred places held high in their hearts.
Throughout the course there has been a journey throughout Islam history and to many different places that were significant for many reasons. There were two places in general that stuck out to me, and really grasped my interest. I have taken quite an attachment to these places from a learning aspect, and they are the Al-Masjid al- Haram and the Dome of the Rock. These architectural designs are very significant to the Islamic society and within them is a lot of history around them. Throughout this paper I will give more insight on the history of these locations, how they were constructed, what religious significance they hold and what role they play in the 21st century.
The Al-Masjid al-Haram was originally built by the leader we know as Caliph Omar Ibn Al-Khatteb between 634-644. The current location of the Mosque is in Mecca, Saudi Arabia and is the primary destination of the Hajj pilgrimage The construction began as a very simple design of a covered prayer area that was held together by wooden columns and arches was the original construction of the Al-Masjid al-Haram. It covered about 356,800 square meters and can hold about 820,000 people, which is usually filled to capacity during the Hajj. There has been many upgrades and modifications throughout the times of different rulers and are still taking place today. The history of how the Mosque came to be is as follows. Due to the growing number of pilgrims that traveled to the Kaaba every year, the caliph decided to have the surrounding houses demolished in order to expand the land surrounding the Kaaba. During the first upgrade, the walls were raised and ceilings were painted with gold. The original wooden columns were replaced with marble and the arches were decorated with mosaics. The biggest change took place when the entire mosque was demolished and a new one was built under the rule of Caliph al-Mahdi in 775-785. The new mosque was 196 by 142 meters, and was built on a grid plan with marble columns from Egypt and Syria. This would not be the last time that the mosque had a makeover though. It was damaged in 1399 by water and partly by a fire, and then in 1571 the mosque became more of what we know today. The roof was replaced with domes that were decorated with gilded calligraphy. In 1611 rain damaged the mosque again and had updates like a new stone arcade with slender columns and colored marble tiles. In 1955 the mosque was extended and connected to the Rock of al-Safa and al-Marwah. This extension came along with an outdoor prayer area and a new wing. The major gate (King Fahd) has three arches with black and white voussoirs and carved white marble decoration, windows are covered with brass mashrabiyya and framed with carved bands of white marble. (Sacred Destination) Next I will introduce the Dome of the Rock, which was known to be a holy place before the creation of Islam. This location is believed to be where Abraham was to sacrifice his son. Not only that, but it is also believed to...
References: Al- Masjid al-Haram. ArchNet. Retrieved on 27 Feb 2013 from: http://archnet.org/library/sites/one-site.jsp?site_id=8803
Al-Masjid al-Haram, Mecca. Sacred Destinations retrieved on 27 Feb 2013 from: http://www.sacred-destinations.com/saudi-arabia/mecca-haram-mosque
Dome of the rock. Retrieved on 27 Feb 2013 from: http://www.domeoftherock.net
Brown, D. (2009). A new introduction to Islam (2nd ed.). West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons.
Esposito, J. (2011). What everyone needs to know about Islam (2nd ed.). Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press.
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