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January 15, 2000 - Under the Sacred Rock


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Jews praying at the Wailing Wall
jerusalem
One of the holiest sites in Jerusalem is the Dome of the Rock. It is built in the center of a large courtyard, surrounded by nine tall gates. Non-Muslims, like Kavitha and Jasmine, must enter from one of two gates: the Bab al-Maghariba (Gate of the Moors), or the Bab as-Silsila (Chain Gate).

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The dome of the rock glistens over Jerusalem

The Dome of the Rock is a mosque. To enter the mosque you must take your shoes off and leave your camera bag behind. Once inside, the pavement is flat, and the atmosphere of the courtyard is peaceful-it's easy to forget that you're in a city full of many quarrels.

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The dome of the rock glistens over Jerusalem

Caliph Abd al-Malik built the Dome of the Rock. He decorated it with brilliant blue, tiled mosaics on the outside. The Dome itself was first covered with pure gold. Nowadays, it's just as bright, but made of aluminum. It shines in the setting sun as a strong symbol of Islam's place in Jerusalem.
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The mosaic tiles surrounding the dome

Look at the Dome of the Rock today as an example of how the holy sites form a challenge to making peace in the region. The Dome is located in Jerusalem, which as a holy city and a capital, is the subject of much controversial debate.

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Jews praying at the Wailing Wall
Jews praying at the Wailing Wall
The Dome of the Rock is central to the faiths of both Muslims and Jews. So who should own it? To whom does it belong? Should you base such a decision on how long someone has had control of the area? On how many believe in a particular faith? Or are these not the right questions to be asked of something that is neither secular nor political, but religious? Complex questions, aren't they? Continue to search more and learn more: some questions are very difficult to answer.

-Monica

Next Update:
January 19, 2000 - 3 pm
 
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