The most famous Islamic site in Jerusalem is the Dome of the Rock ( Qubbat as-Sakhrah ). An impressive and beautiful edifice, the Dome of the Rock can be seen from all over Jerusalem. It is the crowning glory of the Haram es-Sharif ("Noble Sanctuary"), or Temple Mount.
The Dome of the Rock is not a mosque, but a Muslim shrine. Like the Ka'ba in Mecca , it is built over a sacred stone . This stone is believed to be the place from which the Prophet Muhammad ascended into heaven during his Night Journey to heaven.
The Dome of the Rock is the oldest Islamic monument that stands today and certainly one of the most beautiful. It also boasts the oldest surviving mihrab (niche indicating the direction of Mecca) in the world.
The most universally recognized symbol of Jerusalem is not a Jewish or Christian holy place but a Muslim one: the Dome of the Rock. When people see its golden dome rising above the open expanse of al-Masjid al-Aq s a, they think of only one place in the world.
The Dome of the Rock is Jerusalem's answer to Paris' Eiffel Tower, Rome's St. Peter's Square, London's Big Ben and Kuala Lumpur's Petronas towers; dazzling the minds of Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The Dome of the Rock is Jerusalem.
The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, situated on the holy city, undoubtedly one of the most celebrated and most remarkable monuments of early Islam, visited every year by thousands of pilgrims and tourists.
Is the shrine in Jerusalem that is the oldest extant Islamic monument. The rock over which the shrine was built is sacred to both Muslims and Jews. The Prophet Muhammad , founder of Islam, is traditionally believed to have ascended into heaven from the site. In Jewish tradition, it is here that Abraham, the progenitor and first patriarch of the Hebrew people, is said to have prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. The Dome and Al-Aqṣā Mosque are both located on the Temple Mount, the site of Solomon’s Temple and its successors.
The extraordinary visual impact of the Dome of the Rock is in part due to the mathematical rhythm of its proportions. All the critical dimensions are related to the center circle that surrounds the sacred stone. For example, each outer wall is 67 feet long, which is exactly the dome's diameter and exactly its height from the base of the drum.
The same principles were used in Byzantine churches of Italy, Syria, and Palestine, but none compare to the integration of plan and elevation seen in the Dome of the Rock.
The great golden dome that crowns the Dome of the Rock was originally made of gold, but was replaced with copper and then aluminum. The aluminum is now covered with gold leaf, a donation from the late King Hussein of Jordan.
The dome is topped by a full moon decoration which evokes the familiar crescent moon symbol of Islam. It is aligned so that if you could look through it, you would be looking straight towards Mecca.
The beautiful multicolored Turkish tiles that adorn the shrine's exterior are faithful copies of the Persian tiles that Suleiman the Magnificent added in 1545 to replace the damaged originals. The lower half of the exterior is white marble.
The Arabic inscription around the octagonal part of the Dome of the Rock are verses from the Qur'an. The inscription dates from the renovation under Suleiman. The tiled area just below the golden dome is the drum . Its glazed tiles were made in Turkey, and its Arabic inscription tells of the Night Journey of Muhammad as described in the Qur'an .
Inside the shrine, an arched wall called the octagonal arcade or inner octagon follows the exterior shape. An open space between this and the central circle forms the inner ambulatory around the Rock, carpeted in lush red. The area between the inner octagon and outer octagon (exterior wall) forms a smaller, outer ambulatory, carpeted in green. The two ambulatories recall the ritual circular movement of pilgrims around the Ka'ba in Mecca.
On the eastern side, an inscription gives credit for the building's construction to the Abbasid caliph al-Mamun in the year 72 AH (691 AD). However, al-Mamun reigned from 813-33 AD, so the inscription clearly represents an Abbasid effort to claim credit for the achievement of the previous dynasty.
Much of the inscription on the inner side of the octagonal arcade exhorts Christians to depart from error of the Trinity and recognize the truth of Islam:
O People of the Book! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning God save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a Messenger of God, and His Word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in God and His messengers, and say not 'Three' - Cease! (it is) better for you! - God is only One God. Far be it removed from His transcendent majesty that He should have a son. ... Whoso disbelieveth the revelations of God (will find that) lo! God is swift at reckoning!
The mosaics of the interior feature both realistic and stylized representations of vegetation and related themes (Muslim law forbids the representation of living beings in art). The mosaics evoke an exotic garden, perhaps the gardens of Paradise. Rich jewelry is also depicted in abundance, including breastplates, necklaces, and a Persian crown with features gathered at the base. The caliph Omar had conquered Persia in 637, and the mosaics symbolize the Persian crowns he sent to hang in Mecca.
The cupola , the interior of the great golden dome, features elaborate floral decorations in red and gold, as well as various inscriptions. The main inscription in the cupola commemorates Saladin, who sponsored extensive restoration work on the building.
Christians and Muslims in the Middle Ages believed the Dome itself to be the Temple of Solomon (Templum Domini). The Knights Templars were quartered there in the Crusades, and Templar churches in Europe imitated its plan.
And here's a view not seen even by most visitors to the Dome of the Rock, a close look of the beautifully decorated cupola and drum. The Arabic inscriptions commemorate Saladin, who sponsored extensive restoration work on the building. Photo by National Geographic in 1914.
The sacred rock that is the central focus of the shrine is a large, ancient rock that may have once stood in the center of Solomon's Temple. For Jews, it is the rock on which Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac. For Muslims, it is the rock from which Muhammad's winged horse leapt into the sky, accompanied by the Archangel Gabriel, on the "Night Journey" into heaven, according to the Quran . The rock is said to bear the horse's imprint. Muslim tradition holds that an angel will come to the rock to sound the trumpet call of the Last Judgment at the end of the world.
The reliquary next to the rock dates from the Ottoman period and contains a hair of Muhammad's beard.
The small, flat mihrab (niche showing the direction of Mecca) belongs to the original building, and is the oldest mihrab preserved in the Islamic world. The wooden screen around the sacred rock was donated by the Ayyubid sultan al-Aziz in 1198. The Crusaders protected the rock from relic-snatching pilgrims by erecting a wrought-iron screen between the columns of the circle; it remained in place until 1960 and is now on display in the Islamic Museum.
The cavity beneath the rock, accessible by a staircase near the south entrance, is known as Bir el-Arwah, the " Well of Souls ." It is said that here the voices of the dead mingle with the falling waters of the lower rivers of paradise as they drop into eternity.
Another legend says that the dead meet here twice a month to pray. In earlier days, those who prayed here after having walked around the rock were given a certificate entitling them admission to paradise; it was to be buried with them.
Quick Facts Names: Dome of the Rock Type of site: Muslim shrine Dates: Built 688-91 AD Location: Haram es-Sharif (Temple Mount), Old City, Jerusalem Hours: 8:30am to 3pm. Closed during midday prayers. The Temple Mount is not open to visitors on Friday or Muslim holidays, or during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Cost: Admission NIS 38 ($8.40) for Al-Aqsa Mosque, Dome of the Rock, and Islamic Museum. The combined admission ticket can be purchased from a stone kiosk between Al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock.
The cascading domes and six slender minarets of the Sultanahmet Mosque (better known as the " Blue Mosque ") dominate the skyline of Istanbul. In the 17th century, Sultan Ahmet I wished to build an Islamic place of worship to rival the Hagia Sophia , and the mosque named for him is the impressive result. The two great architectural achievements stand next to each other in Istanbul's main square, and it is up to visitors to decide which is more impressive.
The Blue Mosque was commissioned by Sultan Ahmet I as a rival to Hagia Sophia and designed by architect Mehmet Aga (Aga's unfortunate predecessor was fired - i.e., executed).
Construction on the mosque began in 1609 and took seven years. Sultan Ahmet died only a year after the completion of his masterpiece, at the age of 27. He is buried just outside the mosque with his wife and three sons.
One of the most notable features of the Blue Mosque is visible from far away: its six minarets . This is very unique, as most mosques have four, two or just one minaret. According to one account, the Sultan directed his architect to make gold ( altin ) minarets, which was misunderstood as six ( alti ) minarets.
Whatever the origins of the unique feature, the six minarets caused quite a scandal, as the Haram Mosque in Mecca (the holiest in the world) also had six minarets. In the end, the problem was solved by adding a seventh minaret to Mecca's mosque.
The other striking feature of the exterior is the beautifully-arranged cascade of domes that seem to spill down from the great central dome. The arcades running beneath each dome add further visual rhythm. None of the exterior is blue - the name "Blue Mosque" comes from the blue tiles inside.
The main, west entrance is beautifully decorated and very much worth a look. However, to preserve the mosque's sanctity, non-worshippers are required to use the north entrance , off the Hippodrome. Hanging from this gate are symbolic chains that encourage everyone, even the sultan on horseback, to bow his or her head upon entering.
The interior's high ceiling is lined with about 20,000 blue tiles that give the mosque its popular name. Fine examples of 16th-century Iznik design, the tiles feature flowers, trees and abstract patterns. The overall effect is one of the most beautiful sights in Istanbul.
The elegance of the interior is overwhelming. It is very nearly a square 51 meters long and 53 meters wide, covered by a dome 23.5 meters in diameter and 43 meters in height, resting on four semi-domes, those again by smaller domes.
The Blue Mosque is flooded with light from its 260 windows. The dominant color is blue, from which the building derives its popular name of the Blue Mosque. The tiles up to the windows and the walls and the ones in the sultans box are the most beautiful Iznik tiles. Iznik produced ceramics of high quality and these ceramic decorations often showed magnificent floral designs such as the traditional lily, carnation, tulip and rose motifs, cypress trees and animals motifs. These are painted with blues and green as dominant colors.
Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii) With its cascade of opulent domes and slender, balconied minarets soaring towards the sky, Istanbul’s Blue Mosque is one of the city’s most striking images. Construction was begun in 1609 under the Ottoman Sultan Ahmet Khan I, who wished to create a place of Islamic worship to rival the Aya Sofya , or Hagia Sophia, constructed under the Roman ruler Justinian II in AD 532 and located across the Hippodrome , the old city’s central plaza. Completed in 1619, the interior of the mosque features a massive dome supported by four grand columns, five metres (16ft) in diameter, as well as characteristic Ottoman tile patterns and brightly-coloured windows. Hundreds of Muslims still use the mosque for daily prayer and worship. Visitors of all faiths who are modestly dressed may enter the Blue Mosque; special slippers and head and shoulder coverings are distributed at the entrance.
Quick Facts Names: Blue Mosque; Sultanahmet Camii; Sultanahmet Mosque Type of site: Mosque Dates: 1609-1616 Architecture: Ottoman Architect: Mehmet Aga Status: Active Location: Next to the Hagia Sophia in central Istanbul, Turkey Phone: (0212) 518 1319 Open: 9am-6pm, except during daily prayer times (about a half-hour, five times daily) and midday on Fridays Cost: Free
Prayer facing Mecca—every mosque is required a wall like this one…a mihrab.
The steps/stage to the right is where the Imam talks to the worshippers at Friday prayer.
Women with their heads covered Man transcribing from the Koran in Arabic
As one enters through Taj Mahal Gate, the calligraphy reads "O Soul, thou art at rest. Return to the Lord at peace with Him, and He at peace with you." The tombs of the Shah and his beloved wife.
The Taj Mahal ---- Hindi: ताज महल ; Persian/Urdu: تاج محل )
The Taj Mahal ---- Hindi: ताज महल ; Persian/Urdu: تاج محل is a mausoleum located in Agra, India, built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
The Taj Mahal (also "the Taj") is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Ottoman, Indian, and Islamic architectural styles. In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was cited as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage."
While the white domed marble mausoleum is its most familiar component, the Taj Mahal is actually an integrated complex of structures. Building began around 1632 and was completed around 1653, and employed thousands of artisans and craftsmen. The Persian architect, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri is generally considered to be the principal designer of the Taj Mahal.
Shah Jahan, who commissioned the Taj Mahal -"Shah jahan on a globe" from the Smithsonian Institution Artistic depiction of Mumtaz Mahal
The base structure is a large, multi-chambered structure. The base is essentially a cube with chamferededges and is roughly 55 meters on each side (see floor plan, right). On the long sides, a massive pishtaq , or vaulted archway, frames the iwan with a similar arch-shaped balcony. On either side of the main arch, additional pishtaqs are stacked above and below. This motif of stacked pishtaqs is replicated on chamfered corner areas as well. The design is completely symmetrical on all sides of the building. Four minarets, one at each corner of the plinth, facing the chamfered corners, frame the tomb. The main chamber houses the false sarcophagi of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan; their actual graves are at a lower level.
Cluster Floor plan Carving on the outside pishtaqs Calligraphy on large pishtaq Base, dome, and minaret
Muslim tradition forbids elaborate decoration of graves and hence Mumtaz and Shah Jahan are laid in a relatively plain crypt beneath the inner chamber with their faces turned right and towards Mecca. Mumtaz Mahal's cenotaph is placed at the precise center of the inner chamber with a rectangular marble base of 1.5 meters by 2.5 meters. Both the base and casket are elaborately inlaid with precious and semiprecious gems. Calligraphic inscriptions on the casket identify and praise Mumtaz. On the lid of the casket is a raised rectangular lozenge meant to suggest a writing tablet. Shah Jahan's cenotaph is beside Mumtaz's to the western side. It is the only visible asymmetric element in the entire complex. His cenotaph is bigger than his wife's, but reflects the same elements: a larger casket on slightly taller base, again decorated with astonishing precision with lapidary and calligraphy that identifies Shah Jahan. On the lid of this casket is a traditional sculpture of a small pen box. The pen box and writing tablet were traditional Mughal funerary icons decorating men's and women's caskets respectively. Ninety Nine Names of God are to be found as calligraphic inscriptions on the sides of the actual tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, in the crypt including "O Noble, O Magnificent, O Majestic, O Unique, O Eternal, O Glorious... " . The tomb of Shah Jahan bears a calligraphic inscription that reads; "He traveled from this world to the banquet-hall of Eternity on the night of the twenty-sixth of the month of Rajab, in the year 1076 Hijri."
At the far end of the Taj Mahal complex, there are two grand red sandstone buildings that are open to the sides of the tomb. Their backs parallel western and eastern walls, and these two buildings are precise mirror images of each other. The western building is a mosque and its opposite is the jawab (answer) whose primary purpose was architectural balance and may have been used as a guesthouse. The distinctions between these two buildings include the lack of mihrab , a niche in a mosque's wall facing Mecca, in the jawab and that the floors of jawab have a geometric design, while the mosque floor was laid with outlines of 569 prayer rugs in black marble. The mosque's basic design is similar to others built by Shah Jahan, particularly to his Masjid-Jahan Numa, or Jama Masjid of Delhi, a long hall surmounted by three domes. The Mughal mosques of this period divide the sanctuary hall into three areas with a main sanctuary and slightly smaller sanctuaries on either side. At the Taj Mahal, each sanctuary opens onto an enormous vaulting dome. These outlying buildings were completed in 1643.
The Taj Mahal was constructed using materials from all over India and Asia. Over 1,000 elephants were used to transport building materials during the construction. The translucent white marble was brought from Rajasthan, the jasper from Punjab, jade and crystal from China. The turquoise was from Tibet and the Lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, while the sapphire came from Sri Lanka and the carnelian from Arabia. In all, twenty eight types of precious and semi-precious stones were inlaid into the white marble. The main dome was designed by Ismail Afandi (a.ka. Ismail Khan), of the Ottoman Empire and was considered as a premier designer of hemispheres and domes.
Ustad Isa of Persia (Iran) and Isa Muhammad Effendi of Persia (Iran), trained by Koca Mimar Sinan Agha of Ottoman Empire, are frequently credited with a key role in the architectural design,but there is little evidence to support this claim.
'Puru' from Benarus, Persia (Iran) has been mentioned as a supervising architect.
Qazim Khan, a native of Lahore, cast the solid gold finial.
Chiranjilal, a lapidary from Delhi, was chosen as the chief sculptor and mosaicist.
Amanat Khan from Shiraz, Iran was the chief calligrapher. His name has been inscribed at the end of the inscription on the Taj Mahal gateway.
Muhammad Hanif was a supervisor of masons and Mir Abdul Karim and Mukkarimat Khan of Shiraz, Iran (Persia) handled finances and management of daily production.
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Taj Mahal is regarded as one of the eight wonders of the world, and some Western historians have noted that its architectural beauty has never been surpassed. The Taj is the most beautiful monument built by the Mughals, the Muslim rulers of India. Taj Mahal is built entirely of white marble. Its stunning architectural beauty is beyond adequate description, particularly at dawn and sunset. The Taj seems to glow in the light of the full moon. On a foggy morning, the visitors experience the Taj as if suspended when viewed from across the Jamuna river.
Taj Mahal was built by a Muslim, Emperor Shah Jahan (died 1666 C.E.) in the memory of his dear wife and queen Mumtaz Mahal at Agra, India. It is an " elegy in marble " or some say an expression of a "dream." Taj Mahal (meaning Crown Palace) is a Mausoleum that houses the grave of queen Mumtaz Mahal at the lower chamber. The grave of Shah Jahan was added to it later. The queen’s real name was Arjumand Banu . In the tradition of the Mughals, important ladies of the royal family were given another name at their marriage or at some other significant event in their lives, and that new name was commonly used by the public. Shah Jahan's real name was Shahab-ud-din, and he was known as Prince Khurram before ascending to the throne in 1628.
Taj Mahal was constructed over a period of twenty-two years, employing twenty thousand workers. It was completed in 1648 C.E. at a cost of 32 Million Rupees . The construction documents show that its master architect was Ustad ‘Isa , the renowned Islamic architect of his time. The documents contain names of those employed and the inventory of construction materials and their origin. Expert craftsmen from Delhi, Qannauj, Lahore, and Multan were employed. In addition, many renowned Muslim craftsmen from Baghdad, Shiraz and Bukhara worked on many specialized tasks.
The Taj stands on a raised, square platform (186 x 186 feet) with its four corners truncated, forming an unequal octagon. The architectural design uses the interlocking arabesque concept, in which each element stands on its own and perfectly integrates with the main structure. It uses the principles of self-replicating geometry and a symmetry of architectural elements.
Its central dome is fifty-eight feet in diameter and rises to a height of 213 feet. It is flanked by four subsidiary domed chambers. The four graceful, slender minarets are 162.5 feet each. The entire mausoleum (inside as well as outside) is decorated with inlaid design of flowers and calligraphy using precious gems such as agate and jasper. The main archways, chiseled with passages from the Holy Qur’an and the bold scroll work of flowery pattern, give a captivating charm to its beauty. The central domed chamber and four adjoining chambers include many walls and panels of Islamic decoration.
The mausoleum is a part of a vast complex comprising of a main gateway, an elaborate garden, a mosque (to the left), a guest house (to the right), and several other palatial buildings. The Taj is at the farthest end of this complex, with the river Jamuna behind it. The large garden contains four reflecting pools dividing it at the center. Each of these four sections is further subdivided into four sections and then each into yet another four sections. Like the Taj, the garden elements serve like Arabesque, standing on their own and also constituting the whole.
When entering the mosque, a person should take off his shoes or sandals.
Entering the mosque is done with the right foot first, while pronouncing blessings upon Muhammad and his family.
Once inside the mosque, two rak'a (part of the salat) are to be performed.
A person inside the mosque speaks softly, not loudly, so that he or she does not disturb people praying. F
or the Friday prayer, nice clothes and perfumes are recommended. Women are not prevented by either the Koran or the Sunna from entering mosques, but there are regulations as to how a woman in a mosque should behave.
Mosques can be segregated, either in time, or in space. But through most of Muslim history, women entering mosques have not been welcomed by men.
Having played hostess to a number of different non-Muslim groups visiting our mosque, this issue of taking off one's shoes in the mosque has manifested itself in some interesting ways. I'm afraid some people even might have the wrong idea about why shoes are removed inside the mosque. Before the expansion had opened, but while the old musallah had been closed, we were forced to hold our da'wah presentations in the gym. Most activities took place in the gym--including the prayers. But several of our visitors were "regulars," from school groups whose instructors regularly sent their classes to the mosque for presentations. They were well-aware that shoes needed to be removed inside the prayer hall, and informed their students ahead of time. For these presentations in the gym, we had to explain to everyone that they could leave their shoes on. Frankly, if I were to walk across a gym floor, I'd rather leave my shoes on. But this is a much easier problem to deal with than the reverse, which is an audience previously unaware they would be removing their shoes--for sometimes this can make people uncomfortable.
Because it's so common for shoes to be removed inside a mosque, and to see shoe racks near the doors, I thought it would be worthwhile to explain (if I can, inshaaAllah) the purpose for this behavior. Some people, if they were asked why Muslims remove their shoes in a mosque, would respond by vaguely saying "out of respect." Respect for what, or for whom? Do Muslims need to pray with their shoes off? Some people might say yes, others might say no. The answer is: not unless their shoes have impurities on them. So it isn't necessarily for the prayer, but is it to respect the space? I have heard some people say that the masjid is "sacred ground," like when Moses (s) was told to remove his shoes in front of the burning bush because he was on sacred ground.
But refer to a hadith reported in Sahih Muslim where the Messenger of Allah (s) in explaining the differences between other messengers and himself (s), says "the earth has been made sacred and pure and mosque for me, so whenever the time of prayer comes for any one of you he should pray whenever he is." If the earth has been made sacred, pure, and a mosque, then how can we say that inside the walls of a mosque are sacred and we must take our shoes off?
In fact, we have traditions about the Prophet Muhammad (s) praying with his shoes on. Anas bin Malik was asked the question, if Muhammad prayed with shoes on, and he answered yes (reported in Bukhari and Muslim.) But the condition about the shoes being free of impurities comes from another hadith in Sunan Abu Dawood, on the authority of Abu Sa'id Al-Khudri. In this hadith, the Prophet Muhammad (s) was leading his companions in prayer, and during the prayer he removed them and placed them to his left. His companions copied the behavior, removing their shoes, and at the end of the prayer the Messenger of Allah (s) asked them why they did so, and of course they replied that they saw him remove his shoes. At this point, the Prophet Muhammad (s) explained that the Angel Gabriel had come to him during the prayer and told him that there was some filth on them, which is why he (s) removed them. So he told his Companions at that point to check their shoes before coming to a mosque and if they were dirty, to wipe them off and then pray in them.
Given that story, one might expect for Muslims to pray in their shoes in the mosque. And in fact, Muslims were instructed (according to another hadith in Sunan Abu Dawood) by the Prophet Muhammad (s) to pray with their shoes on to differentiate themselves from the Jews.
So returning to the question--why remove our shoes? And the answer has to do with the different nature of our mosques today, and our shoes. Because walking on the carpet with shoes will soil it, we should remove them. And that is the fatwa on this particular issue. Additionally, the carpets are considered waqf, meaning they should be preserved and maintained in good condition. Dirt on the carpets is likely to upset the people who will be praying on them, which is why we should take our shoes off. Praying with shoes . So, simply because shoes carry dirt, and dirt will soil the carpets on which people prostrate, it is not appropriate to walk on the carpets with shoes. It is perfectly fine, however, to pray with shoes when praying outside the mosque--like at home, at work, in the park, etc.--so long as you ensure they are free from impurities. At the mosque, on the other hand, if you are taking off your shoes to walk on the carpet, please be sure to neatly stow them on the appropriate racks. :-)