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According to tradition, the Dome was built to honor the Lord, while some claim the caliph also wanted to build a shrine to rival Mecca. Located in what Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary -- which Jews call the Temple Mount -- it remains one of the best known landmarks of Jerusalem.
The rock in the center of the dome is believed by Muslims to be the spot from which Muhammad was brought by night and from which he ascended through the heavens to God (See Miraj). Accompanied by the angel Gabriel, he was consulted by Moses and given the obligatory Islamic prayers before returning to earth. It is a holy place to Muslims. The Jews believe this place to be the location where Abraham almost sacrificed his son Isaac at the command of the Lord, where Jacob saw the ladder to heaven, and within the boundaries of the innermost chamber of the Jewish Temple. Other Jewish traditions say it is the spot where the first stone was laid in the building of the world.
Essentially unchanged for more than thirteen centuries, the Dome of the Rock remains one of the world's most beautiful and enduring architectural treasures. The gold covered dome stretches 20 metres across the Noble Rock, rising to an apex more than 35 metres above it. The Qur'anic verse 'Ya Sin' is inscribed across the top in the dazzling tile work commissioned in the 16th century by Suleiman the Magnificent. The sura Ikhlas which denounces what Muslims regard as the principle Christian errors is also inscribed there.
- Say: He is God, the One and Only;
- God, the Eternal, Absolute;
- He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;
- And there is none like unto Him."
During the Crusades, Knights Templar had their spiritual headquarters in it. It was thought to be a remnant of the Temple of Jerusalem. As such, it appeared in one of the seals of the Knights and was a model for Templar churches across Europe.
According to Martin Gray, it is:
- "a mashhad, a shrine for pilgrims. Adjacent to the Dome is the Al-Aqsa Mosque wherein Muslims make their prayers."