GOD ONLINE: Exploring media spirituality

Web sites, TV, films, books and the search for meaning.

A Noble Sanctuary for Muslims

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Explore the 35-acre quad in Jerusalem known to Muslims as The Noble Sanctuary via this attractive, fact-filled site. From the Dome of the Rock to Al-Aqsa Mosque to the Islamic Museum, you’ll gain a glimpse of why this is considered the third-holiest site in the Islamic world.

You’ll get a little history, starting with Muhammad’s legendary ascension to heaven from the mountain. You’ll see some closeups of the stunning Dome of the Rock, with its golden dome and its blue-and-white calligraphic tiles added by Suleiman the Magnificent. You’ll learn how informal centers of discussion at Al-Aqsa Mosque gradually grew into the four main schools of religious thought.

You’ll also see the vaulted underground prayer room sometimes called Solomon’s Stables. This is the structure that drew much controversy a decade ago, when it was being excavated by the Waqf, the Muslim trust that administers the area. Some Israeli observers said the Muslims were dumping truckloads of valuable archaeological materials. As this site says, Muslims counter that it was actually built during an eighth-century caliphate.

The writing is fairly lucid and direct, with only a few of those pious expressions like “peace be upon him.” Surprisingly, the site acknowledges that many people believe the mountain was the site of Solomon’s Temple. Some Muslim leaders deny that a temple ever stood there, loathe to concede any Jewish claim on the land.

One quibble: The siderail with the crosslinks is blue text on a field of green, making it hard to read. Green is supposed to have been Muhammad’s favorite color. But I suspect that unlike the designers of this site, he would have opted for function over form.

The Noble Sanctuary is a fairly complex Web site, and not all the sections are linked from the homepage. Fortunately, there’s a Contents page, which works as a site map for the 21 main sections.

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Written by Jim Davis

March 12, 2009 at 4:10 am

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