The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
The Dome Of The Rock
Among the world's most splendid monuments the Dome of the Rock, in the centre of the Temple area, Jerusalem, ranks high. Its beauty is etched deeply in the memory of all who have seen it: the dome, soaring into Palestine's blue sky, the colonnades, rich in marble and mosaics, the colours, the grace, the whole wonderful shrine that for a thousand years and more has stood on the rocky summit of Mount Moriah gleaming in sunshine like a "dome of many coloured glass".
Abraham was a resident of Beersheba when he received the Divine order to sacrifice Isaac. They set out together one morning, and after three days' travel reached the Mount. The Patriarch stretched his son on the rock and prepared to slay him; but his hand was stayed, and he offered up a ram instead. From that hour the spot became historic; for long centuries now, it has been sacred, and millions of pilgrims have worshipped where the Almighty tried the faith of his servant, Abraham.
The Dome of the Rock is a shrine, not a mosque, and its correct title is Kubbet es Sakhrah. It was built by the Khalif Abd el Melek, in A.D. 69I, and occupies the former site of the Temple of Solomon, the sacred rock having formed the floor of the Holy of Holies. Though he did not build it, the Khalif Omar's name will always be associated with the Dome.
When Omar made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, in A.D. 637, he ordered the Patriach to conduct him to the "Mosque of David''. The Patriach first lead the way to the Holy Sepulchure and then to Sion, saying of each in turn that it was the Mosque. Omar brusquely called him a liar. Finally the Khalif was taken to the Haram enclosure, the Noble Sanctuary, as it was called. They had to crawl through the gateway, over piles of rubbish, to reach the Court of the Sanctuary. Then Omar was satisfied, saying that this was the spot described by the Apostle of Allah. By the Khalif's o'der, the Holy Rock was cleared of rubbish, and a temporary mosque was built beside it.
Omar was assassinated in 644, at Medina. His successor was Othman, who rulled for 12 years, and was then murdered by rebels. The next Khalif, Aly, was also assassinated. After several others had ruled for periods varying from 20 years to three months, Abd el Melik, 5th of the Omeyyad Dynasty, became Khalif. It was he who made Jerusalem a place of Moslem pilgri-mage by building the Dome of the Rock and the Mosque of Aska. He consulted the Governors of the Provinces before ordering the work to begin, and they all expressed cordial approval of the great project.
The Rock shrine has been damaged by earth-quakes, and has been restored several times. As originally built it lacked the outer walls, the colonnade being open. In his "Story of Jerusa-lem", Col. Sir C.M. Watson quotes the following description of the Dome of the Rock, written by Makaddasi, who was born in the Holy City in A.D. 946:—
"Within the building are three concentric colonnades, with columns of the most beautiful marble, polished, and above is a low vaulting; within these again is the central hall over the rock; the hall is circular, not octoganal, and is surrounded by columns of polished marble, supporting round arches. Built above these, and rising high into the air, is the drum, in which are large openings; and over the drum is the Dome. The Dome from the floor up to the pinnacle, which rises into the air, is in height 100 cubits, and, from afar off, you may perceive on the summit of the Dome its beautiful pinnacle, the size of which is a fathom and a span. The Dome externally is completely covered with brass plates, gilt, while the building itself, its floors and its walls, and the drum, are ornament-ted with marble and mosaics".
Much of the material used in building the Dome of the Rock was obtained from ruined buildings.