Temple Mount (Haram Ash-Sharif), Dome of the Rock in sight, western approach, Old City, Jerusalem
The Temple Mount,is identified in both Jewish and Islamic tradition as the area of Mount Moriah where Abraham offered up his son in sacrifice.
Here King Solomon built the First Temple almost 3,000 years ago. It was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, but 70 years later Jews returning from exile built the Second Temple on the same site. King Herod refashioned it into an edifice of great splendor.
In Muslim tradition, the place is also identified as the "furthermost sanctuary" from which the Prophet Mohammed, accompanied by the Angel Gabriel, made the Night Journey to the Throne of God.
Following the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 70, the area of the Temple was deliberately left in ruins (first by the Romans, then by the Byzantines). This desecration was not redressed until the Muslim conquest of the city by the Caliph Omar ibn al-Khattab in 638. He ordered the clearing of the site and the building of a "house of prayer".
Some 50 years later, the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik built the Dome of the Rock to enshrine the outcrop of bedrock believed to be the "place of the sacrifice" on Mount Moriah. He (or his son, the Caliph al-Walid I) also built the large mosque at the southern end of the Haram, which came to be called al-Aksa after the Koranic name attributed to the entire area.
The Dome of the Rock (Arabic, Qubbat al-Sakhra) is one of the arch
itectural glories of the world, and the only early Islamic sanctuary to have survived intact. The design of the building is basically Byzantine - double octagonal ambulatories encircling the Holy Rock. A shrine and not a mosque, it is the third holiest place in Islam after the Ka’aba in Mecca and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina.
Located in the Old City's Muslim Quarter, this is the world's third holiest shrine to Muslims (after...
The Dome of the Ascension (Qubbat al-Miraj) is a free-standing dome that commemorates the Islamic pro...
Modern civilization began right here in the Tigris-Euphrates river valley. Also known as the Fertile Crescent or Mesopotamia, this is the place where, six thousand years ago, agriculture, writing and mathematics were brought into widespread use.
The term "Middle East" comes from the British navy, which used it to describe the countries on the trade route from Europe to India and China. Everything from Afghanistan to Morocco may possibly be classified as "middle eastern", depending on whom you ask -- and when.
Only a partial list of past Empires in the middle eastern territory includes Sumeria, Babylonia, Persia, the Ottoman Empire and the Roman Empire!
When northern Europe was still lurking about in slimy cold stone castles playing chess, the Middle East was enjoying the flowers of poetry, luxurious craftsmanship, music and literature. In fact, the Renaissance in Europe was partly inspired by stories brought back from the middle east by travelers along the trade route.
Strategic location, religious history and the world's largest supply of crude oil have kept the Middle East at the center of world activity for centuries. The saga continues.
Text by Steve Smith.