A rock by any name is still holy

Growing up in a Muslim country, Israel was a touchy but interesting topic. One of the few times this topic would be discussed with a sense of reverence and admiration would be when discussing Jerusalem and its holy regions. One of the most significant among these has always been Israel’s “most recognisable landmark”, the Dome of the Rock. A religious shrine, built in the 7th century by the Islamic Caliphate, it is also on the UNESCO heritage list. The Dome was built to enshrine the Foundation Stone or the Rock, with its beautiful architectural detail, and stands tall at the top of the city of Jerusalem.


The Old City is at the heart of the religious differences that engulf Israel, but is also surprisingly where all these faiths coexist, perhaps most peacefully. The Dome is considered a holy site in the three biblical religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Although it is the Muslims, that currently hold administrative control of the Dome, there have been many disputes over this site in the past.


Religions of the Books and their connection to the Dome: 




holiest site

holiest site

believe in prophetic rebuilding of the temple before Armageddon and the Second Coming

rock – where prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven on the night of Mi’raj

site where name of God was spoken aloud by high priest on Day of Atonement

site where Abraham was to sacrifice his son Isaac

direction of prayer before Kaaba

direction of prayer

site where Abraham was to sacrifice his son Ishmael

site where Abraham was to sacrifice his son Isaac

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 7.35.11 pm
Quran on the walls  Image:Instagram/Olga Dymitrowska


Inside; from below







Today, some of my best friends are Israelis, which has made me question a lot of the symbols I have grown up associating Israel with. While almost all the Israelis (out of at least 30) I’ve met are proud of landmarks like the Dome, they are able to list out many other significant places, many more symbols.

With the Dome being such a popular tourist destination, the risk of essentialising Israel as a purely religious state, or simply a state at war, runs high by using the Dome as a symbol to identify the country with. However, it is also clear that this is a site that holds much significance. Considering that Israel is recognised as a Jewish state, but also a territory up for much debate, it is fitting that this be a symbol that helps change the narrative from “contested state” , to a “diverse state” instead.


Contrast – public perception of militant Israel against the skyline of Jerusalem with the Dome as the most prominent



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