Salman Al-Farisi, Lc.
Continuing the discussion about the introduction and explanation of the landmarks of Masjid al-Aqsa that extracted from the Mini Encyclopedia of Masjid al-Aqsa, in this section will be continued to discuss some of the domes and schools in the compound of Masjid al-Aqsa.
A. Some of the Domes in the Masjid al-Aqsa
Dome is anelement of architecture that resembles the hollow upper half of a sphere. The dome has functioned as a place of preaching, place of worship, to stay in a particular place (I’tikaf) or to commemorate an event. Currently in the Masjid al-Aqsa, the dome is made for the Islamic Waqf Affairs office, the Shari’a Court and the teaching of the Qur’an and hadith.
Masjid al-Aqsa has 15 domes, it construction was going on some of the reign of the Islamic Umayyad period, the Ayyubid, Mamluk and the Ottoman period. Here are the names of the dome and its position in the Masjid Al-Aqsa:
First: Dome of the Umayyad Period
1. Dome of the Rock
The position of the dome on the top of the ash-Shakhrah al-Musyarrafah. This large dome is layered with gold-plate; the height is 35m, with diameter 20m. At the uppermost there is 4 meters crescent. Inside the dome there is decoration, mosaic and beautiful calligraphy. Dome of Rock divided into two: inside and outside. Between the inner and outer dome there is a distance about one meter. The inner dome is made of wood covered with gold lime. The outer dome, which used to be made of pewter gold plated, then the material is converted into a slab tin coated aluminum gold until the 1950s. In 1995, the dome covered with zinc painted with pure gold, which spends about 24 kg of gold.
The dome from the Umayyad to Ottoman covered with mosaic engraving. When Sultan Sulaiman al-Qanuni of Ottoman ruled, he was ordered to replace a mosaic with blue glazed tiles. The glass tiles were made of hard ceramic coated with paint smooth and illuminated. When Sultan Abdul Hamid II ruled, he ordered to write Surah Yasin around the eight square building. This written by a calligrapher named Muhammad Shafiq.
2. Dome of Chain
Dome of Chain was built by Abdul Malik bin Marwan in 65-68 AH / 685-688 AD. Historians had different opinions as the origin of its construction, but most said that it was built as a place to monitor the construction of the dome of Rock and as early miniature of dome of Rock. This dome is located in the east of the dome of Rock with three meters distance.
Caliph Sulaiman bin Abdul Malik ever sat in it to keep an eye on his people. This dome was once used for teaching and learning and a place of prayer and other worship. When the crusaders controlled the Masjid al-Aqsa, the dome was used as a church by the name of “Church of Saint James”. This dome has eleven pillars made of marble and the niche that is located on the west (the direction of the Qibla). In addition to eleven pillars earlier, there are six other pillars are inside. Six pillars raised hexagon dome.
Second: Dome of the Ayyubid Period
3. Dome of al-Mi’raj
Dome of al-Mi’raj is one of the domes in the court of dome of Rock to the northwest. This dome was built by Al-Amir Al-Isfisihlar Izzuddin, governor of al-Quds during the Ayyubid Empire in 597 AH / 1201 AD. The purpose of this dome was built to commemorate the Ascension of Prophet Muhammad PBUH.
This dome has octagon shaped with one niche in the direction of Qibla. The walls are covered with white marble and the doors are in the north. The building stands on 30 pillars. On it there is a dome made of tin. At the top of the dome there are other small domes over the head like a crown. This dome has been renovated in the Ottoman Empire. Now the building is used for offices of Affairs Development of al-Aqsa Mosque.
4. Dome of Nahwiyah
Dome of Nahwiyah is in the southwest of the courts of Dome of Rock. Built by al-Malik Sharafuddin Isa Abu Mansoor al-Ayyubi in 604 AH / 1207 AD. The place is used for education and teaching nahwu and sharaf. This dome is named attributed to its function.
The building consists of 3 rooms in it, and in one of the west there is a dome on top. Its entrance is facing north. When the British army invaded, this dome turned into a library. Now, this dome has become a religious court in al-Quds.
5. Dome of Moses
Dome of Moses is located in the west courtyard of Masjid al-Aqsa, between Chain Gate in the west and the dome of Nahwiyah in the east. Built by al-Malik Najm al-Din Ayyub in 647 AH / 1249 AD. The name of the dome is taken from one of the teachers who had taught there, this also be attributed to the Prophet Moses PBU. Another name of this dome is dome of ash-Syajarah as previously plenty of shade trees around it. Some people named it with a wide dome.
This dome has square shaped building with one niche in the direction of Qibla. The length and width are six meters of each. There are 6 windows and entrance is on the north side. The dome is also stands on masthabah that has own niche.
At this time the dome is used for tahfiz Qur’an classroom. This is where the first centers of the Al-Qur’an stands and is still graduating the alumni of tahfiz and students of Al-Qur’an.
6. Dome of Suleiman
This dome is located in the southwest of al-Atam gate (King Faisal Gate), precisely in the northern part of the central courtyard of Masjid al-Aqsa. It’s named with dome of Suleiman because the dome is attributed to Sulaiman bin Abdul Malik, the Umayyad caliph who became leader in 96-99 AH. or before Caliph Umar bin Abdul Aziz led. Although the dome was actually built during the Ayyubid in 600 AH / 1203 AD, it was renovated in the Ottoman Empire.
This dome has octagonal shaped and one niche. The dome in the above of 24 pillars was made of marble. The gate of dome is in the north of the building. Dome was once used for worship, seclusion and to save the archives of the religion court of Masjid al-Aqsa. Then Waqf Affairs and Development was renovating and making it an affair counseling office. There is a backrest that surrounds the Rock in it and splitting the dome but now the back has been removed.
Third: Dome of the Mamluk Period
7. Dome of Al-Mizan
It is located in the south courtyard of the dome of Rock and sticking in the south baikah. This dome is above of the Burhanuddin pulpit. Initially, the pulpit was made during the Ayyubid which created from wood then on the Mamluk period it replaced with marble. This replacement was done by Qadi Burhanuddin in 790 AH. He was a teacher at the Shalahiyah School and preacher at the Masjid Al-Aqsa.
This dome is named with Al-Mizan, because its position is next to the south baikah. This baikah is known as Al-Mizan (the scales). That’s why this dome is attributed with the baikah. This dome has six pillars made of marble. The pillars have octagonal shape. Between one pillar to the other pillar is connected with three half ring bond. There is a bulge above it that circles the dome. The dome itself is above the marble tiles.
Fourth: Dome of the Ottoman Period
8. Dome of An-Nabi
Dome of An-Nabi is located in the northwest of the dome of Rock courts, which is between the dome of Rock and dome of al-Mi’raj. Named by dome of An-Nabi as it is believed this is where the Prophet Muhammad PBUH prayed along with other prophets in the night journey. There are some texts stating that the prayer of Prophet and Messenger with the other prophets was to the right of dome of Rock.
The dome was built during the Ottoman Empire. The construction was done in two-stage process. The first phase, built during the Sultan Sulaiman al-Qanuni era in 945 AH / 1538 AD by built niche inside the dome as now, with height of 70 cm. The second phase was built during the Sultan Abdul Majid II in 1261 AH / 1845 AD by built a dome over the niche. The dome was built on eight pillars made of marble. There is no wall in the dome. The floor is red which surround the niche.
9. Dome of Al-Arwah
This dome is in the court of the dome of Rock in the northwest or in front of the guardhouse of Masjid al-Aqsa. We don’t have any information why this dome is called the dome of Al-Arwah? Some say that the name is attributed to the hadith of Prophet PBUH stating that this land is the land where it collects and generates human souls. The dome was built in the Ottoman period. This dome has no wall. The building is built over 8 pillars made of marble. In the pillars foundation there is stone back that surrounds the dome that shaped niche in the direction of Qibla.
10. Dome of Al-Khidhr
It is located in the northwest courtyard of dome of Rock, precisely in the northwest near baikah and next to the staircase walls. This building was founded in the 10th century or 16th Hijra, during the Ottoman period.
Some say, the Prophet Khidhr had been leading prayers at this place as a place under this dome is the place for dhikr, praying, studying and i’tikaf. The underneath place is known as the corner of Al-Khidr, these two places are attributed to the Prophet Khidhr. There were no arguments that supporting it. The building is small. It was built on six pillars made of marble. At the top of the pillars tied with beautiful decorated arches. Inside the dome has red floor, which forms the niche facing towards the Qiblah.
11. Dome of Yusuf Agha
This place is inside of Masjid al-Aqsa, west of the Jami ‘al-Qibli or in front of the museum Islam (Masjid Al-Magharibah). This dome is named with “Yusuf” because the founder’s name was Governor Yusuf. Established in the year 1092 AH / 1681 AD.
This building shape is rectangular which has dome above it. Currently, this building functioned as ticket booth to go to museum for non-Muslim visitors. The ticket is only for non-Muslim visitors, while Muslim visitors are not charged at all. In addition to the booth, the building also serves as the office lighting.
12. Dome of Joseph
This dome is in the court of the dome of Rock, which is between the Burhanuddin pulpit and the dome of An-Nahwiyah (south of dome of Rock). Established by Governor of al-Quds during the Umayyad named Joseph in 1092 AH / 1681 AD.
If someone attributed this dome to the Prophet Yusuf, it’s false, because in this dome there is a signpost written by Salahuddin Yusuf ibn Ayyub and placed on the walls of this dome. The aim to build this dome was to keep the gate in order to remain immortal. It occurs when the renovation at the time of the Ottoman Empire.
This dome has rectangular shape with no walls but the Qibla direction (south) that have signpost. Dome is above the four foundation pillars and above the dome there is crescent, the whole building is built in Ottoman period.
13. Dome of ‘Asysyaq An-Nabi
This dome is located at the southeast gate of Al-Atam (King Faisal Gate). The dome was established in the Sultan Mahmud II period of the Ottoman Empire. The name was used in the 1233 AH / 1817 AD because of habit of Sufi teachers who gathered to hold a dhikr in it.
The building has rectangular shape with length of 7 meters. Stands on four solid foundations in the corners. There are four arched stone bonds which oversees the dome over it. The dome has no walled with a stone niche.
To go up to the court dome it needs three steps from the east and west. The floor is made of stone tiles. On the north side there are two lists backrest.
14. Dome of Mahdi Isa
The dome of Mahdi Isa is a relic of the Ottoman Empire that located on the southeast corner of the Masjid al-Aqsa. Built in 1315 AH / 1898 AD.
The building consists of a small dome prop by four pillars. Under the building there is a stone basin called the “Mahdi Isa” (Isa crib). This stone basin was constructed during the Abbasid or Fathimiyah. In front of the stone there is a niche. Mentioned, that Isa Al-Masih slept in that place when he was a baby. But the truth could not be justified. Christians also do not admit this story.
Researchers tried to find the essence of this building and what does it for. As a result, this building is part of the caliph’s palace. This place is one of the rooms of a large room with fortified wall of the mosque. The palace is located near the niche. Dynasty Fathimiyah made the niche and the palace as a place of worship and they named it Masjid Mahdi Isa. Then the Ottoman Empire made a dome on top of the stone and this niche.
15. Dome of Sheikh Al-Khalily
This dome is located in the northwest courtyard of dome of Rock, or pecisely between the dome of Sheikh Al-Khalily with dome of Rock there are dome of Al-Mi’raj and dome of An-Nabi.
This dome has rectangular shape, wall enclosed, which is prop by four pillars foundation. On each side of the wall there are two windows, total the windows are 8.
To be continued……
Taken from the “Mini Encyclopedia of Masjid Al-Aqsa” ASPAC for Palestine.