Allah (swt) says: 'And whoever honours the symbols of Allah – for indeed, it is from the piety of hearts'. [The Noble Qur’an, 22:32]
In honour of the Dome of the Rock, one of the 'symbols of Allah', we present before you eight facts that we were fascinated to learn about this magnificent Masjid...
One: It is part of the Blessed Masjid Al-Aqsa
Many Muslims picture Al-Aqsa as a grey-domed masjid. However, this building is actually known as the ‘Qibali Masjid’. It was given this name because it faces the Qiblah of Makkah. It is also called the ‘Qibli Masjid’, or the south-facing Masjid, since Makkah is to the south of Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, the term 'Blessed Masjid Al-Aqsa' actually includes the entire Al-Aqsa complex. This is also known as the Noble Sanctuary (al-Haram ash-Sharif) and it is the third holiest site in Islam.
It is important to clarify this, as there is a lot of confusion around what constitutes Masjid Al-Aqsa!
As the above picture shows, the Blessed Masjid Al-Aqsa sanctuary includes the grey-domed Qibali Masjid, where the Prophet (saw) led all the Prophets (as) in prayer during the miraculous Night Journey (Al-Isra’).
Masjid Al-Aqsa also includes the Dome of the Rock Masjid, whose Arabic name is Qubbat as-Sakhrah. This sits magnificently at the centre of the complex, and is famous for its golden dome:
Masjid Al-Aqsa is the second-oldest House of Allah, built just 40 years after the Ka’bah [Bukhari]. These are also the only two masjids mentioned by name in the Noble Qu’ran:
‘Glory be to the One Who took His servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram (in Makkah) to al-Masjid al-Aqsa (in al-Quds), whose surroundings We have blessed…’ [The Noble Qur’an, 17:1]
So the Dome of the Rock Masjid is a part of an incredibly sacred and blessed space.
Two: It is the site of Mi’raj (Ascension)
The Dome of the Rock Masjid had not been built when the Prophet (saw) prayed at the Blessed Masjid Al-Aqsa. However, the Noble Rock (as-Sakhrah al-Musharrafah) DID exist:
It is believed that the Prophet (saw) ascended from the Noble Rock into the heavens on Al-Isra’ wal-Mi’raj, the Night Journey and Ascension. A divine ladder (Mi’raj) was descended from the Highest and Amplest Garden of Paradise (Jannat al-Firdaws) down to the Rock.
In fact, at the south-western side of the Noble Rock, it is believed that the blessed footprint of the Prophet (saw) is still visible there. SubhanAllah!
You can read more about this miraculous journey in our previous blog.
Three: The Noble Rock was most likely our first Qiblah
The Noble Rock is approximately 18 metres long and 8 metres wide. It was most likely the focal point of the first Qiblah of the Muslims, before we began praying towards the Ka’bah in Makkah. In Arabic, this is called Ulu-al-Qiblatain, the first of the two Qiblahs.
Interestingly, the significance of the Noble Rock was alluded to by ‘Umar (ra) when he came to Jerusalem. When he arrived at the Blessed Masjid Al Aqsa, he and the Companions (ra) were deciding where they should pray in its Noble Sanctuary.
You can learn more in our NEW 40 Hadith collection, which you can download for FREE!
Four: The Noble Rock is highly respected by the Abrahamic faiths
The Holy City of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) is highly significant to all Abrahamic religions. This is alluded to in the following ayah:
'Then We delivered him (Ibrahim (as)), along with (his nephew) Lut [as], (from ‘Iraq) to the land (al-Quds) that We have blessed for all people'. [The Noble Qur’an, 21:71]
The Noble Rock is particularly significant! Judaism refers to the Noble Rock as ‘the Foundation Stone’ (‘Evan Ha Shtiyah’), where it is believed the creation of the world began. They also believe it marks the spiritual junction of Heaven and Earth.
Moreover, it is the blessed site of ‘The Holy of Holies’, the holiest site in Judaism. This blessed area marked the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle (dwelling place) where God’s presence appeared and would only be entered once a year by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year).
Furthermore, it is believed that The Ark of the Covenant was held in this sacred place. The Ark of the Covenant contained ancient relics and the Ten Commandments revealed to Musa (as) at Mount Sinai. In Arabic, it is called ‘at-Tabut’ [The Noble Qur’an, 2:248].
Jews also believe that the Prophet Sulaiman (as) built the Temple (Masjid) over the Noble Rock. Muslims refer to this as the Blessed Masjid Al Aqsa.
Interestingly, Jews and Christians also believe that Prophet Ibrahim (as) was prepared to sacrifice his son, Ishaq (as), on this Noble Rock.
Five: Our deeds are ascended from the Noble Rock to Allah
Allah tells us that He is the ‘Lord of the ascending steps’ [The Noble Qur’an, 70:3] and that ‘good words ascend to Him and righteous actions uplift them’ [The Noble Qur’an, 35:10].
But what does Allah mean by the ‘ascending steps’?
Our deeds are regularly ascended to Allah via the Mi’raj (Divine Ladder) at the Dome of the Rock! This occurs:
- Every day at Fajr and ‘Asr [Muslim]
- Every week on Monday and Thursday [Tirmidhi]
- Every year in the month of Sha’ban [Nasa’i]
The Noble Rock is therefore the Place of Ascension into the heavens! Scholars explain that this is the reason the Prophet (saw) ascended from Jerusalem rather than Makkah.
Six: It is the longest-standing Masjid on Earth!
As mentioned before, the Blessed Masjid Al-Aqsa is the second-oldest House of Allah on Earth, and has thus been a sacred site since the earliest days of humankind.
However, the Dome of the Rock Masjid is still in its original structure - and in this sense, it is the longest-standing Masjid in the world!
It was built in 691 CE by the Umayyad Caliph, ‘Abdul-Malik ibn Marwan (rh). It is located on a plateau which is four metres higher than the rest of the Blessed Masjid Al-Aqsa sanctuary. Because this is the site of the Noble Rock, it is believed to be the exact place where the Prophet (saw) ascended into the heavens.
The Dome of the Rock Masjid is octagonal, capped at the centre by the famous golden Dome, approximately 20 metres in diameter. It is topped by a full moon decoration which is aligned so that, if you could look through it, you would be looking towards Makkah.
Seven: It contains the oldest mihrab in the world!
A mihrab is a niche in a masjid’s wall, which shows the direction of the Qiblah (prayer direction). The Dome of the Rock Masjid contains the original mihrab – the oldest mihrab preserved in the Islamic world!
It also has seven mihrabs close to the northern entrance, representing the seven days of the week. There are also three mihrabs symbolising the Ka‘bah, Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, and Masjid Al-Aqsa. These are the three holiest places in Islam:
'Mounts are not saddled (i.e. do not set out on a journey) except for three Masjids: the Masjid of al-Masjid aI-Haram, the Masjid of the Messenger (saw) and Masjid al-Aqsa'. [Bukhari]
Eight: It is deeply connected to the Day of Judgement
Did you know? Some scholars say that the Angel Israfeel (as) will blow his Trumpet (in Arabic, Soor) from the Noble Rock, announcing the Day of Judgement. [Mu‘jam al-Buldan by Yaqut al-al-Hamawi (rh)]
In fact, Masjid Al-Aqsa as a whole is deeply connected to the Day of Judgment. When Allah recreates the world for the Day of Judgement, it will take place on the re-created plains of the Blessed Masjid Al Aqsa:
Maimunah bint Sa’d (ra), the freed slave of the Prophet (saw), said, 'O Prophet of Allah, inform us about Bait al-Maqdis (Masjid Al Aqsa in al-Quds)'.
He (saw) said, 'It is the land of Resurrection (al-Manshar) and Congregation (al-Mahshar). Visit it and pray in it. For indeed prayer in it is like a thousand prayers in other than it'. [Ahmad]
Moreover, the Ka‘bah itself will be resurrected and brought to the Blessed Masjid Al Aqsa!
Abu Bakr (ra) - in what is most likely a Marfu‘ tradition - said, 'The Ka‘bah will be gathered to Bait al-Maqdis, with all those who performed the major pilgrimage (Hajj) and minor pilgrimage (‘Umrah) clinging on to its coverings'. [Al-Fakihi in the narrations about Makkah]
So Masjid Al-Aqsa as a whole - and the Noble Rock in particular - will be significant on the Day of Judgement.
Here is a quick summary of this article:
The Dome of the Rock Masjid is the longest-standing Masjid on Earth, and it contains the oldest Mihrab in the world! It was built on the Noble Rock, which is significant to all Abrahmaic religions, and was was most likely the first Qiblah of the Muslims and the place of the Prophet’s Ascension on Al-Isra’ wal-Mir’aj. This highly significant Masjid sits at the centre of the Blessed Masjid Al-Aqsa sanctuary, one of three holiest places in Islam.