The Consecration of Islamic Jerusalem during the Umayyad Period Essay

The Consecration of Islamic Jerusalem during the Umayyad Period

            Muslims have always had very strong religious linkages with Jerusalem city. Muslims have governed Jerusalem for more than 1000 years. Prophet Muhammad is alleged to have ascended to the heavens from Jerusalem. The city houses the most sacred shrine of the Muslim world, called the Dome of the Rock.

            No world city can boast of having Universalist principles and a history as rich as Jerusalem’s. A lot of such universalism is due to Muslim governance for in 13-century period whereby Jerusalem never misplaced its spiritual co-existence and tolerance reputation. Jerusalem’s extraordinary religious mix raised its position past the restrictions of strategic and economic considerations (Talhami, 2000).

            The Umayyad Caliphate was among the 4 Muslim caliphates set up after Prophet Muhammad died.  The4 Umayyad dynasty governed the caliphate for 661 AD to 750 AD.  The Ummayads, under Abu Sufyan’s leadership, were mainly a business family from the Quraysh clan based in Mecca. Initially, they had opposed Islam, and did not convert until AD 627. However, the afterwards turned to be famous officers governed by Muhammad plus his immediate heirs. During the initial Muslim battle (fitnah ;656 -661), the son of Abu Sufyan,  Muawiyah who was at that time Syrian    governor, defeated Ali , the fourth caliph and a son-in-law to Muhammad.  Muawiyah subsequently installed himself to be the initial Umayyad caliph (

            The governance of Ummayad was split between 2 family branches: the Sufyanid family which ruled from, AD 661 to AD 684; and Abu Sufyan’s descendants plus the Marwanid (Marwan I plus his heirs) who ruled from AD 684 to AD 750. The Sufyanids, particularly Muawiyah I, who ruled from AD 661 to AD 680, made caliphate power central within Damascus. Ummayad power came from the army of Syria, thus permitting the development of a unified empire via superior management of the occupied provinces as well as of Arabic ethnic enmities. Muslim domination spread out to Khorasan, garrison capitals were built at Seistan and Merv to act as supports for adventures into north western Indian and central Asia. Assaults on North Africa begun. A sequence of operations against Constantinople was executed by a fresh fleet, which though ultimately ineffective, counterbalanced the states’ worldly image, since such were directed to Christians (

            Despite the fact that the Sufyanids by and large preserved the Persian and the Byzantine organizational systems of government taken over from such provinces, they depicted tribal political organization whereby caliphs were selected by their peers. Such caliphs became ‘first among equals’, plus took advice from shura, or some ethnic committee. However, Muawiyah, when swearing in his offspring, Yazid I, he ignored the conventional election and brought in a foreign notion of inherited succession.   Civil strife plus the 684 and 683 demises of Muawiyah II and Yazid I respectively signaled the end of Sufyanid governance. Marwan I in 684 was named caliph when ethic wars were on going.

            The Umayyads distinguished themselves by setting up the biggest Muslim nation in recorded history. The caliphate of the Umayyads was characterized by cultural and administrative problems created by their expansion programs. They seemingly favored the liberties of elderly Arabic families, especially their individual families, over the families of freshly recruited Muslim followers (mawali). Thus, their conception regarding Islam was less collectivist as compared to that of their opponents.  Islam faith was regarded as belonging to the victorious aristocracy.

            The Umayyads made the caliphate turn from some spiritual institution to an empire-like one.  Nevertheless, the caliphs seemingly regarded themselves to be God’s worldly representatives. This thus led to the elaboration and definition of God’s decrees, or the elaboration and definition of Muslim law.

            In the course of the Umayyad rule, Arabic came to be the official language with currency and government documents being developed in Arabic.  Group conversions made numerous Muslims come to the caliphate. It was the Umayyads, who as well constructed renowned buildings, for instance, the Damascus Umayyad mosque and the Dome of the Rock in 691.

            Scholars have regarded The Ummayads as having promoted some kingship having tyrannical tendencies, as opposed to a proper caliphate. Such Umayyad caliphs regarded themselves to be khalifat Allah (descendant of the envoy of God), as opposed to the conventionally endorsed, khalifat rasul Allah (deputy of God). Such disparity indicates that such Umayyads saw themselves as being the representatives of God ruling the society (Zwi, 2006). They thus did not deem it fit to distribute their spiritual authority, or hand over such to, the upcoming breed of spiritual scholars.

            Also called the Qubbat As-Sakhrah, the Dome of the Rock is the most ancient Islamic shrine. The rock on which the Dome of the Rock stands is hallowed to Jews and Muslims like. Muhammad is alleged to have risen to the heavens from this rock.  Jews believe that Abraham, their initial patriarch and progenitor of the Hebrews prepared Isaac, his son, for sacrifice on the same rock.

            The construction of the Dome of the Rock lasted from 685 to 691 AD. It was built by caliph ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan to serves as Muslim shrine and not as some mosque where community worship may be done.  Muslims and Christians within the European Middle Ages regarded the Dome of the Rock as being the temple that was built by Solomon.

            After a long time of uncertainty and chaos, the Umayyad dynasty at last gained control over the Islamic kingdom. Marwan I was the initial rule in this kingdom. Marwan’s son Abd al-Malik followed his father. Despite that fact that his governance was characterized by political disputes and wars, caliph Abd al-Malik is viewed as being an able leader who set up numerous reforms plus brought in a unique legal tender for Muslims (Talhami, 2000). However, Abd al-Malik could as well be famed for constructing Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock, to overlook the capital as a striking representation of Muslim conquest.

            Abd-al Malik’s governance saw the Umayyad caliphate reach its climax. Muslim armed forces conquered great areas of India and Spain. Within central Asia, battalions conquered Samarkand, Bukhara, Fergana, Tashkent, and Khwarezm. Arabic was declared the national language in an aggressive Arabization program; the empires fiscal administration got rationalized, with Greek and Persian officials being replace by Arabs. Communications as well were enhanced when a standard postage service linking Damascus to regional capitals, was introduced (, 2008).

            The conquest of the byzantine Leo III over the Syrian armed forces in 717 signaled the beginning of decline.  Subsequently, the financial reorganization supervised by the devout Umar II , who ruled from, 717 to 720, meant to placate the more and more dissatisfied non-Arab Muslim people or the  mawaii, through bringing equality to every Muslim, regardless of nationality, caused fiscal problems. On the other hand, the increase of conflicts between northern (qays) and southern (Kalb) Arab ethnicities seriously diminished military might.

            Hisham, who ruled from 724 to 743 managed to temporarily slow down the downfall. At the time the kingdom was attaining its expansion limits, border defenses, under Syrian army command, were systemized to confront the north African Berbers and the central Asian Turks.

            However, during the period that succeeded Hisham’s demise, conflicts between the Kalb and the quays led to key revolts within Iraq, Khorasan, and Syria, at a time when the mawaii engaged the Hashimiyah, some religio-political faction which questioned the authenticity of Umayyad governance.    The Hashimiyah, assisted by western regions, in 749 declared Abu al-Abbas as-Saffah caliph (

            Upon taking the throne in Ad 685, Abd al-Malik symbolized a period or comparative stability following the successive wars that had greatly divided Islam .however, bringing in a fresh Muslim legal tender resulted to conflict with Byzantium’s Justinian II and generally, Abd al-Malik’s governance was seldom peaceful.

Caliph Abd al-Malik is credited for having offered able direction to the kingdom, setting up vital restructuring that had enduring consequences for along time. The uniqueness of the Islamic kingdom was strengthened during such an era, as illustrated by the fresh legal tender, employed all over the kingdom. Abd al-Malik as well decoded numerous vital Arabic records for the initial time.

However, probably the most enduring shrine still standing presently regarding Abd al-Malik’s governance remains the Rock of the Rock.  This monument still overlooks the panorama of Jerusalem. In the course of Abd al-Malik’s era, Jerusalem still was a capital having a Christina minority. The scenery of such Holy City had abundant graceful christens monuments, including the Church of the Ascension and Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Like numerous Muslims of his day, caliph Abd al-Malik was very conscious of the differences in elegance between christens houses of worship and the Temple Mount rudimentary wooden mosque. In additions, the rivalry between Islam and Christianity had increased over time .such rivalry is depicted in writing in the Dome of the Rock that questions Christian doctrines.

The selected location of the Dome of the Rock had a huge significance, since the concerned rock in Judaism is referred to as the Foundation Stone, source of the global creation, Location of the dream involving angels according to Jacob (, 2008).  Afterwards, some mythos regarding such rock emerged within Islam too. It came to be referred to as the site from where Mohammad mounted to the heavens during his nocturnal journey.

During construction the Dome of the Rock was covered with one hundred thousand dinar currency, and so it looked just like it looks currently. Its interior is lavishly bedecked with mosaic floor tiles.

            To Muslims, Jerusalem is indeed holy, being al-Kuds or the ‘Holy One’. The Umayyad era is usually regarded as the influential era in Muslim art. Initially, despite the fact that Arabic was adopted as the state language with Islam being the main faith of the various lands united under the governance of the Umayyads, artists went on working as per their traditional methods.  The late antique classical naturalistic tradition was the major artistic influencing power and it had remained widespread on Mediterranean eastern shoreline. Such was as well augmented by the more official methods generated by the Sasanians and the Byzantines, feature that particularly influenced textiles, metalwork, as well as the representation of vegetal, figural, and animal motifs (, 2008). However, as time went by, artisans unearthed fresh methods, ornamental conventions, and forms that differentiated their creations from previous ones. Therefore, via a procedure of adaptation, creation, and adoption a fresh sense regarding creative expression came up and turned out to be conspicuously Islamic regarding character soon after the Umayyad dynasty collapsed.

            Regarding the fine art, the Umayyad era was as well critical towards the progress of Muslim architecture.  Despite the fact that previous architectural conventions went on, fresh customs and religions of emerging Arab rulers called for a special utilization of space.  Regarding sacred buildings, the Ummayads as well built their shrines on locations having symbolic or historical importance. Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock, the initial key Umayyad construction undertaking finished under caliph Abd al-Malik, was constructed on a famous location where the temple of Solomon previously stood, and afterwards linked to Muhammad’s heavenly ascent. Other famous sacred buildings include the expanded medina mosque (706-710), Muhammad’s previous house. Also important are the Damascus mosques (706), the place where the location of the pervious roman temple and 4th century byzantine church bestowed to john the Baptist was turned into the worshippers mosque of the Umayyad capital , as well as of Jerusalem from 709 to 715 (

                                   In­­­ The Sacred ; The Profane, Mirces Eliade describes religious men as regarding all natural things, for instance, trees, stones, as being subject to spiritual experiences. He goes on to explain the spiritual men have Attempted to in the existence of the holy since they wish to be in contact with the definitive power and reality of such sacred entities. He explains contemporary non-religious men live within some ‘desacralised’ space.

            Eliade states that non-religious men basically experience the world’s spatial features as evenly neutral whereas spiritual men experience such aspects as being non-homogenous (partially holy and partially unholy). Spiritual men regard the world as possessing a holy centre in which they seek to live in.  Eliade explains that non-spiritual men regard the world’s spatial features as being uniformly even.   Actually such men experience specific sites as extraordinary owing to personal linkages; sites like birth place. Such experiences are referred to as tainted spiritual experiences (Zwi, 2006).

            Eliade then explains holy places, with the place of worship being a clear example. The door of the house of worship represents some porch between the external profane and the internal sacred. Within ancient cultures, the holy area, which opened upward to the heavens, the realm of the deities was the church’s equivalent. Holy sites were disclosed to spiritual men through various signs, regarded as emanating from the heavenly entities.

            Traditional civilizations comprehended their country as space, some world made from primordial disorder by their deities, with neighboring country being chaotic. Enlargements to such land were regarded as representing a recurrence of such cosmogony, regarding the initial divine action of world creation (Durham, 2003).

            Omar came to Jerusalem on camel back and clad in a torn camel hair mantle. His subjects, made less advance by their observations regarding the world, felt scandalized and thus beseeched Omar to alter his clad and ride on a horse. He gave in eventually, but maintained his camels halter in his hand. Since he did not like the horses pace, Omar reverted to riding on the camel.  Christens thus regarded Omar as having entered Jerusalem, the Holy City, dressed in a torn camel hair mantle and depicting diabolical goodness. Omar asked to be led to the Jewish temple that was built under Solomon’s supervision, so as to worship his own profanities. The archbishop Sophronius, upon seeing Omar, declared, ‘behold the disgrace of misery described by prophet Daniel positioned on the cared place’. Omar, the defender of goodness fervently cried over Christians. His hoist patriarch offered Omar a linen vestment, and asked Omar to wear such vestment up the time his got washed.

            Caliph Omar visited Jerusalem in 636 AD and prayed at the entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, as opposed to entering such church, in order for the church to continue being a cared place of Christians. Omar argue that if he prayed inside the church, then his adherents would for ever seize the house of worship claiming that Muslim prayers had been offered in side that church. Omar carried out an inspection of the Solomon temple site and prayed close to St. Mary church.  He visited the different pilgrimage places, and politely asked about their past. Omar then performed his own orisons in the Resurrection church. He however, did neither pray inside the Resurrection church nor the Constantine church, despite the fact that ha was expected here. Omar as well went to Bethlehem, where he said prayers in the church of the Nativity (Durham, 2006). Here, he entered into a pact with his host Patriarch that only a single Muslim would enter inside the church at any one time. Such requirement was however, Trashed with a mosque being constructed there. The place where the church of the Constantine stood also saw a mosque being constructed there.  Omar then divided Palestine into 2 provinces; attaching one to Ramleh and the other one Jerusalem.

            The agreement that Omar instituted stated that christens churches, crosses, and properties would not be destroyed. The Christians were as well assured that their churches would not be converted into residences and that no one would confiscate their properties. It was also agreed that religion would not make Christians be annoyed or constrained in any way. Jews and Christians would coexist in Aelia and all inhabitants would be required to submit poll tax. Robbers and Greeks were to go away form the city; however, they would be accorded security until they reached their destinations. However, robbers and Greeks who wished to remain would do so on conditions that they submitted poll tax like the other inhabitants. In the event that some Aelia natives wished to accompany the Greeks as they left Aelia, carrying with them their possessions but leaving their crosses and chapels, such natives would accorded personal safety up to the time they arrived at a secure place. Strangers within alee could remain, however, they would have to pay tax (

Works cited

Britannica online encyclopedia. (2009). Ummayad dynasty. Retrieved July 17th 2009, from

Chapter XVIII. Capture of Jerusalem, 15A.H / 636 AD. Retrieved July 17th 2009, from

Durham, John, C. (2003). Understanding the sacred. Mircea Eliade ; the profane 1 sacred space (summary). Retrieved July 17th 2009, from

Heilbrun timeline of art history. (2009).The art of the Umayyad period (661- 750). Retrieved July 17th 21009 from

Islam civil war ; the Ummayads. Retrieved July 17th 2009, from, (2008). caliph al-Malik: An Umayyad builder. Retrieved July 17th 2009 from

Talhami Ghada Hashem. (February 2000). The modern history of Islamic Jerusalem: academic myths and propaganda. Retrieved July 17th 2009, from

Ummayads, The first Muslim dynasty (661-750). Retrieved July 17th 2009, freom

Zwi, R. J. (2006). He meaning or Jerusalem to Jews, christens and Muslims. Retrieved July 217th 2009, from