Tuesday, November 01, 2016

"The Holy Temple" and the Dome of the Rock in an early mosque inscription

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH (INDIRECTLY): Centuries before trying to deny it, Muslims carved Jewish link to Jerusalem into mosque. Newly studied inscription from Mosque of Umar dated to 9th or 10th centuries highlights correlation between Dome of the Rock and biblical Jewish temples (Ilan Ben Zion, Times of Israel).
A recently studied inscription from a mosque near Hebron offers insight into how, until the mid-20th century, the Muslim world considered Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock to be the successor to two ancient Jewish shrines that formerly stood atop the Temple Mount.

The previously overlooked dedicatory inscription from the Mosque of Umar in Nuba, a village nearly 26 kilometers (16 miles) southwest of Jerusalem, mentions the village as an endowment for the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. But what’s striking is that the Dome of the Rock is referred to in the text as “the rock of the Bayt al-Maqdis” — literally, “The Holy Temple” — a verbatim translation of the Hebrew term for the Jerusalem temple that early Muslims employed to refer to Jerusalem as a whole, and the gold-domed shrine in particular.

Local tradition ascribed the construction of the mosque to Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab, under whose rule Arab armies conquered Jerusalem and the rest of Byzantine Palestine in the mid-7th century. It was under his eventual successor Abd al-Malik, the fifth caliph, that the Dome of the Rock was completed in 691 CE.

But the Israeli scholars who presented a paper on the inscription at the recent conference on the archaeology of Jerusalem date it to the ninth or tenth century CE on orthographic (spelling) and stylistic grounds. The Times of Israel article also has lots of information on the connection between the Temple Mount and Solomon's Temple in early Islamic tradition. As I have said before, the explicit denial of the existence of the Jewish temples on the Temple Mount is a new phenomenon, perhaps no older than the 1990s. Background here and links.