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16.5.8. Dome of the Rock

In our day, the most striking presence upon the Temple Mount is the Islamic Dome of the Rock.

Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock

Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock 1

The Dome of the Rock is not God’s Temple—at least not the God of the Bible. This can be readily seen even by a cursory comparison of the God defined by the Qur’an with the God of the Bible. According to the Qur’an:
  1. No Crucifixion - Jesus was not crucified, but only appeared to be (Surah 3:54-55; 4:157-158; 5:117, 120).
  2. God Has No Son - Jesus is not the Son of God (Surah 2:116; 5:72; 4:171; 6:101; 10:68; 19:35 cf. Ps. Ps. 2:7, Ps. 2:12; Ps. 110:1; Pr. Pr. 30:4; Jer. Jer. 3:19; Dan. Dan. 3:25; Dan. 7:13).
  3. No Trinity - The Trinity is denied (Surah 3:64; 4:116, 171; 5:27; 9:30-31).2
  4. Redemption Unnecessary - The Fall in the Garden of Eden resulted in no need of a Savior (Surah 7:20-25).3
  5. Salvation by Works - Salvation is by works, not faith (Surah 23:102-103; 39:61 cf. Gen. Gen. 15:6).
  6. Jerusalem Not Mentioned - Jerusalem is never mentioned by name in the Qur’an, but over 800 times in the Bible, the city where God put His name (1K. 1K. 11:36; 2Chr. 2Chr. 33:4, 2Chr. 33:7; Dan. Dan. 9:19).
  7. Mohammed Greater Than Jesus - Although Jesus was born of a virgin (Surah 3:45-47; 19:19-21; 21:91), sinless (Surah 19:18), and performed miracles (Surah 3:49; 5:110; 19:29), Mohammed, who was born by a normal pregnancy, who sinned (Surah 40:55; 41:19; 48:1-2), and who performed no miracles is said to be superior to Jesus.
If the Qur’an is God’s Word, then the Bible cannot be. If the Bible is God’s Word, then the Qur’an cannot be. They disagree on numerous fundamental issues, not to mention many additional details where the Qur’an not only contradicts the NT (which Islam maintains is corrupted), but also the OT.4 Since the Qur’an describes a god which differs in fundamentals from the God of the Bible, but claims to be inerrant (Surah 4:82), then the inescapable conclusion is that the god of Islam cannot be the God of the Bible:

While Islam today has much in common with Christianity on the essential attributes of God, there is wide divergence on His moral and relational attributes. Muslims and Christians may speak of the same subject, the true God, but they have different concepts of Him. . . . Jews have an incomplete picture of God’s nature (their view being confined to the Old Testament only), Muslims have an inaccurate picture of His nature (based on the Qur’an and the Hadith), and only Christians have the complete and accurate view of His nature (based on the Bible). For here lies the big impasse: Allah/God could not have been the source of both the Bible and the Qur’an since they have contradictory messages on the most fundamental issues, especially on the nature of God. From a Christian perspective God is the author of the Bible only. But from a Muslim perspective God is the author of both the Bible and the Qur’an, except that the present Bible is a corrupted version of the original one. . . . It is here that the issue of the nature of God comes into focus. Though Muslims and Christians may believe in the same God as subject, the nature of God as conceived by Islam is not at all identical to the nature of God within the Judeo-Christian faith.5

Therefore, the Dome of the Rock is not the temple of the God of the Bible. According to tradition, the altar which Abraham constructed upon which to offer Isaac (Gen. Gen. 22:9) stood upon a particular rock on the mount, the Stone of Binding:

In the Midrashim it is written that the Rock is the Even Akkidah, the ‘Stone of Binding’ and marks the place where Abraham bound his son Isaac and laid him on an altar, but that the Holy of Holies was built over the place where the ram was caught in the thicket, a short distance away. Tradition further contends that the Rock is not only the place where the offering of Isaac was attempted, but that it was also the threshing floor of Arunah the Jebusite which King David purchased and upon which he pitched the Tabernacle.6

It is this “Rock” which is referred to in the name Dome of the Rock, although Islam distorts the OT teaching by claiming that Abraham offered Ishmael rather than Isaac. Interestingly, the passage within the Qur’an which describes the offering never mentions Ishmael by name, associating Isaac’s name more closely with the account.7 In A.D. 638, the Muslims invaded Israel and Jerusalem which had previously been under the control of Byzantine Christians. Caliph Omar caused a mosque to be built on what was considered to be the ancient site of the Temple of David. He is said to have set an example of reverence by personally clearing away some of the garbage which had been discarded upon the Rock marking the location of the Temple on the Mount.

In 691 the Umayyad Caliph ’Abd al-Malik built a wooden cupola over the Rock that Caliph Omar had cleared, giving it the misnomer, “the mosque of Omar,” or as it is properly known, the Dome of the Rock (Arabic, Qubbet es-Sakhra). In a further show of conquest over the Christians, Caliph Omar later built a wooden mosque on the compound over the foundations of an early Christian church. This mosque, known as the Al-Aqsa Mosque, was completed in A.D. 715 and has been rebuilt many times since. Today this mosque is regarded as the third holiest place in Islam (after Mecca and Medina), but it is the Dome of the Rock which is considered the crown of the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount).8

Originally, Islam had little use for Jerusalem:

Today the Muslims call Jerusalem Al-Quds (‘the Holy’); however, the earliest Arab name for the city was Iliyia, derived from the Roman renaming of the city as Aelia (Capitolina). In the Islamic period, the name was Bayt al Maqdis from the Hebrew Beit Hamiqdash (‘the Holy House,’ i.e., the Temple), revealing the city’s Israelite origin. Only later was the name changed to Al-Quds.9

But over time, it was asserted that the destination of Mohammed’s journey described in the Qur’an (Surah 17:1) was Jerusalem, the “Farthest Mosque”:10

Glory to (Allah) who did take His Servant for a journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did Bless—in order that We Might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things). (Surah 17:1) [emphasis added]11

It was only after centuries—and most likely to justify the continued Muslim presence in Jerusalem—that the stories of Jerusalem being the place of Mohammed’s night journey and his final ascension (supposedly at the time of Byzantine Christian rule when the Rock was under a dung heap!) were invented. . . this is obvious from the fact that the name of Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Qur’an. . . . While some Muslim authorities have argued that there is a reference to Jerusalem in the night journey of Mohammed when the account says that he went to Al-Aqsa, the name of the mosque which today is built south of the Dome of the Rock, the word Al-Aqsa simply means “far corner”—a term originally applied to the east corner of Mecca, not Jerusalem.12

The current status of the Temple Mount is that it is effectively owned by Israel, but jurisdiction is completely in the hands of the Muslims. Even though Israel took back the Temple Mount in the Six-Day War of 1967, by a strange turn of events (God is sovereign, remember?), within ten days the Jews gave up control of the very site of their historic Temples:13

Rabbi Shlomo Goren, the chief rabbi of the Israeli Defense Forces . . . recounts the events of that day: “In the midst of deliberations, in both governmental and religious frameworks, about renewing Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount and building a permanent synagogue on the open southern plain, the Minister of Defense told me, to my great surprise, that he decided to pass the auspices and responsibilities for all arrangements on the Temple Mount to the Islamic Wakf. He ordered me to take the Torah study center of the Military Rabbinate down from the Temple Mount and to remove all officers of the Temple Mount. From then on, according to him, the Military Rabbinate has no responsibility for the arrangements there, and I should stop organizing Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount. I accepted the order with anger and pain, and I told the Minister of Defense that this is likely to bring about a third destruction, since the key to our sovereignty over Judea, Samaria, and Gaza is the Temple Mount.”14

Previously, Islam recognized the Temple Mount as the location of the Jewish Temple,15 it has more recently become politically expedient to deny the Jewish history which transpired at the location.16 Controversy continues to rage as to whose site it should be and whether Jews should have access to the site for religious purposes. Even the Jewish rabbis disagree about allowing Jews upon the Temple Mount due to fear that they would accidentally defile the Holy places out of ignorance and lack of preparation:

Does Halakhah [Jewish law] permit Jews to enter the Temple Mount? The Bible specifically forbids those who are ritually impure - as we are today - from entering the inner areas of the Holy Temple. However, many hareidi and religious-Zionist rabbis say that after immersion in a mikveh [ritual bath] and taking other precautions, one may enter the other areas of the Temple Mount. Rabbi Yehuda Edri, of the Movement to Establish the Temple, a principal and educational supervisor for ten years in the hareidi Shas Party’s El HaMa’yan educational system, spoke about this with Yosef Zalmanson today. “Several of our great sages of the Rishonim period,” he said, “such as Maimonides and Ishtori HaParchi, actually set foot on the Temple Mount. In addition, Rabbi Akiva Eiger [d. 1837] tried to find out if the Turks would allow Jews to bring the Passover offering... Over the centuries, the Jews simply got used to not frequenting the Temple Mount because the Moslems allowed neither Christians nor Jews to do so.” Rabbi Edri said that even now, “not one religious authority forbids entry into the Temple Mount per se. It is only that because the sin of entering the Holy of Holies is so grave, they are afraid that Jews who either don’t know or don’t care will also ascend to the Temple Mount and will enter the wrong places. But this does not affect Jews who do know and who are careful.” He agreed that these rulings, ironically, prevent only knowledgeable Jews from entering, while having no influence on those whose entry they wish to stop. 17

The Yesha Rabbis Council issued a Halakhic ruling today not only permitting Jews to ascend to the Temple Mount, but even mandating it, contingent upon proper precautions. Excerpts from the announcement of the ruling: “...One of the rabbis commented that by refraining from ascending, we are thereby declaring to the world as if we, G-d forbid, have no part in the Mountain of G-d - and we thus strengthen the Arabs’ feeling that the Temple Mount is theirs. The public is not aware that many rabbis are of the opinion that we currently have the information necessary to enable one to ascend without transgressing, and that therefore those who permit it are not being ‘lenient’ and are not disputing those who came before them - but are rather clearly relying on that which is now known. We therefore call on every rabbi who [agrees with this] to actually visit the Temple Mount, and to guide his congregants in doing so according to Halakhah [Jewish law]. It is a disgrace for us that the Arabs - ‘who say let us seize for ourselves the pastures of G-d’ [Psalms Ps. 88:1] - ascend to the site by the tens of thousands, while barely any Jews do so... All those who continue to feel that it is forbidden did not check the matter sufficiently, and forbade it only because of uncertainty [as to the permitted locations] - but this doubt has been cleared up, and it can be clearly delineated where on the Mount we are permitted to walk. It is our tradition that ‘we do not add decrees.’ In order to forbid something, the Sanhedrin, or all the generation’s Torah leaders, would have to convene and make this decision - but that has not occurred, and therefore the Law remains as it was, namely, permitting ascent to the Temple Mount, as Maimonides himself did and as the Meiri testified that it is a ‘common-place custom’ to do so. Even a prophet cannot uproot a commandment except as a temporary measure. Those who wish to be extra careful [should know that] their stringency is leading to a leniency, in that many people who would be happy to follow the Halakhah actually transgress it out of ignorance - simply because the proper laws are not publicized. The Yesha Rabbis’ announcement, which quotes Maimonides’ ruling [Bait HaMikdash 3,4], states that one who ascends to the Mount while adhering to three conditions - immersion in a mikveh; keeping the laws of Awe of the Temple (no leather shoes, etc.); and knowledge of the precise permitted areas - is fulfilling a ‘great mitzvah [Torah commandment].’ ” 18

For additional information on Islam from a Christian perspective, see:
  • Caner, Ergun Mehmet and Caner, Unveiling Islam.19
  • Geisler, Norman L., and Abdul Saleeb, Answering Islam.20
  • Price, Randall, Unholy War.21

Notes

1 Ariel view of the southern portion of the Temple Mount from the southeast showing the Dome of the Rock (golden dome, upper right) and the Al-Aqsa Mosque (gray-blue dome, center left) as of A.D. 2003. The edge of the Kidron Valley is in the immediate foreground. Copyright © 2003 www.BiblePlaces.com. This image appears by special permission and may not be duplicated for use in derivative works.

2 “It is due to this uncompromising emphasis on God’s absolute unity that in Islam the greatest of all sins is the sin of shirk, or assigning partners to God.”—Norman L. Geisler and Abdul Saleeb, Answering Islam (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1993), 18.

3 “Kateregga writes. . .‘Islam teaches that the first phase of life on earth did not begin in sin and rebellion against Allah. Although Adam disobeyed Allah, he repented and was forgiven and even given guidance for mankind. Man is not born a sinner and the doctrine of the sinfulness of man has no basis in Islam.’. . . Faruqi, notes that ‘in the Islamic view, human beings are no more “fallen” than they are “saved.” Because they are not “fallen,” they have no need of a savior. But because they are not “saved” either, they need to do good works—and do them ethically—which alone will earn them the desired “salvation.” ’ ”—Ibid., 42-43.

4 Both OT and NT were written hundreds of years prior to the Qur’an: an incontrovertible fact. For example, the Dead Sea Scrolls, dated prior to the birth of Christ, contain the detailed prediction of His death (Isaiah Isa. 53:1). Neither Judaism nor Islam can adequately deal with this reality for both deny the substitutionary atonement of the death of Messiah.

5 Imad N. Shehadeh, “Do Muslims and Christians Believe in the Same God?,” in Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 161 no. 641 (Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, January-March 2004), 22-23, 26.

6 Thomas Ice and Randall Price, Ready to Rebuild (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1992), 163-164.

7 “He said: ‘I will go to my Lord! He will surely guide me! O my Lord! grant me a righteous (son)!’ So We gave him the good news of a boy ready to suffer and forbear. Then, when (the son) reached (the age of serious) work with him, He said: ‘O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: now see what is thy view!’ (The son) said: ‘O my father! Do as thou art commanded: thou wilt find me, if Allah so wills one practising patience and constancy!’ So when they had both submitted their wills (to Allah), and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice), We called out to him, ‘O Abraham! Thou hast already fulfilled the vision!’—thus indeed do we reward those who do right. For this was obviously a trial—and we ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice: and we left (this blessing) for him among generations (to come) in later times: ‘Peace and salutation to Abraham!’ Thus indeed do We reward those who do right for he was one of Our believing servants. And we gave him the good news of Isaac—a prophet—one of the righteous. We blessed him and Isaac: but of their progeny are (some) that do right and (some) that obviously do wrong, to their own souls. (Surah 37:99-113)” [emphasis added]—Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an (Beltsville, MD: Amana Publications, 2001), Surah 37:99-113.

8 Randall Price, The Coming Last Days Temple (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1999), 170.

9 Ibid., 180.

10The Farthest Mosque must refer to the site of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem on the hill of Moriah, at or near which stands the Dome of the Rock. This and the Mosque known as the Farthest Mosque (al Masjid al Aqsa) were completed by the Amir ’Abd al Malik in A.H. 68. Farthest, because it was the place of worship farthest west which was known to the Arabs in the time of the Holy Prophets: it was a sacred place to both Jews and Christians, but the Christians then had the upper hand, as it was included in the Byzantine (Roman) Empire, which maintained a Patriarch at Jerusalem.”—Ali, The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an, 673n2168.

11 Ibid., Surah 17:1.

12 Price, The Coming Last Days Temple, 173-174.

13 “June 7, 1967 - Israel, during the Six-Day War, liberates Temple Mount; hopes of rebuilding Temple revive, and Rabbi Goren suggests blowing up mosques on the Temple Mount, but later Defense Minister Moshe Dayan orders Israeli flag removed from atop the Dome of the Rock. . . . June 17, 1967 - Moshe Dayan meets with leaders of Supreme Muslim Council in Al-Aqsa Mosque and returns Temple Mount, especially site of the Temple, to sovereign control of the Muslim Wakf as a gesture of peace; agrees that Jews can have access to Mount, but cannot conduct prayers or religious activities.”—Ibid., 602, 603.

14 Price, The Coming Last Days Temple, 104-105.

15 “ ‘This site is one of the oldest in the world. Its sanctity dates from the earliest times. Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute.’—Guidebook issued by the Supreme Muslim Council of Jerusalem in 1930”—Randall Price, Unholy War (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2001), 259.

16 Yet even the Qur’an indicates that the Promised Land was given to Moses and the Jews: “Remember Moses said to his people: ‘O my People! Call in remembrance the favour Of Allah unto you, when He produced prophets among you, made you kings, and gave You what He had not given to any other among the peoples. O my people! enter the holy land which Allah hath assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown, to your own ruin.’ (Surah 5:20-21)”—Ali, The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an, Surah 5:20-21.

17 TEMPLE MOUNT CLOSED EARLY; WHAT DOES JEWISH LAW SAY?, Arutz Sheva News Service, Monday, August 25, 2003 / Av 27, 5763. [www.IsraelNationalNews.com].

18 YESHA RABBIS: A ‘MITZVAH’ TO VISIT TEMPLE MOUNT, Arutz Sheva News Service, Friday, September 5, 2003. [www.IsraelNationalNews.com].

19 Ergun Mehmet Caner and Emir Fethi Caner, Unveiling Islam (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2002).

20 Geisler, Answering Islam.

21 Price, Unholy War.