Connections - World Religions

Visit the Dome of the Rock
An Internet-based lesson plan for middle through high school


  • Students will use the Internet to learn about these aspects of Dome of the Rock:
    • History of the Noble Sanctuary
    • Architectural features of the Dome of the Rock
    • Culture of the Early Muslim Age

Time frame: one to two 45-minute class periods


  • Allah - in Arabic, the One and Only God. The word Allah does not have plural or gender.
  • Muhammad - prophet of Islam
  • Mecca and Jerusalem-holy cities of Islam
  • Qur'an - Islamic holy text
  • Temple Mount - plot of land on an elevated stone platform where Dome of the Rock is constructed
  • Noble Sanctuary - Holy area surrounding Dome of the Rock; site of Al-Aqsa Mosque and a number of smaller structures.
  • caliph - supreme leader of the Moslem community

Within the Dome of the Rock, be able to identify:

  • octagonal format
  • vaulting
  • columns
  • piers
  • arches
  • ambulatories
  • mosaic decorations
  • fenestrated dome

As you read, consider...

  1. Jews, Muslims, and Christians all claim the Dome of the Rock as a holy place. What specific events make the area of the Noble Sanctuary sacred to each of these religions?
  2. What is the history of the Temple Mount? What are some interesting aspects of the culture of the Early Muslim Era-the time in which the Dome of the Rock was constructed?
  3. Describe some of the significant architectural features of the Dome of the Rock.
  4. How is the Dome of the Rock an atypical , or nontraditional, mosque?
  5. What other structures are in the Noble Sanctuary, or area around the Dome of the Rock?


  1. View "Dome of the Rock" following the printed transcript.
  2. Interested in the history of Dome of the Rock? Visit

    These questions will guide your reading:

    1. The earliest name of Jerusalem was________ .
    2. The Ark of the Covenant was once believed to be housed in the Dome of the Rock. Describe or explain the use of the Ark of the Covenant. _______________________________
    3. What leader constructed the First Temple of the Jews? ___________________
    4. What, according to Islamic tradition, was removed from the Second Temple?____________________________________________________
    5. What is another name for the famous Western Wall of the temple?_____________
    6. What noteworthy emperor made a pilgrimage to this sacred site in 326?________________________
    7. According to Islamic tradition, who accompanied Mohammed back to Mecca after his descent into heaven? ___________________
    8. Who is credited with the design of the Dome of the Rock? _______________________

  3. What architectural features are distinctive to The Dome of the Rock?

    The dome of the Rock is called a mosque, yet it is not a typical mosque at all. To learn more about this, visit Arabic and Islamic Architecture

    Details of the Dome and the Noble Sanctuary remind us of the elegance of Islamic Architecture. To see the entire Temple Mount, try the Noble Sanctuary Online.

    Questions to guide reading:
    1. How large is the gold dome that stretches across "the noble rock?"_________________________________
    2. What is the significance of this passage? "Surely you are among those sent on a straight path." _____________________________________________
    3. What is the dominant color of this section of the Dome? _________
    4. What repeated shapes do you see? _________________
    5. Would you describe the tile work as symmetrical or asymetrical? _________________________________
    6. What architectural features seem to be typical of all Islamic designs?________________________

      "The builders of the Dome of the Rock began with a clearly defined, classically based structure, and covered it with brilliant marble and mosaic. In the arches we see three bands of design. They used trees for high rectangular surfaces and scrolls for square ones"

      The Al-Aqsa Mosque is a vast congregational mosque built in the Noble Sanctuary. How many worshippers does this center of worship and learning accommodate?

      The Dome of the Prophet is one of many smaller structures which surround the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. It was restored in 1538AD by Muhammad Bey, the governor of Jerusalem.

      (both these are located @

  4. Next stop, the culture of the Early Muslim Age
    The Dome of the Rock was constructed in the Early Muslim Age (638-1099). Visit this site to experiece the era, see what worshippers were wearing, meet prominent people of the time. End your study by sampling a typical meal of the Early Muslim Age.. (source: Sweet Briar College, Sacred Places)

    *Coriander and Pine Nuts Salad*
    A recipe from the Early Muslims

    The famous Arab geographer al-Muqadasi, writing in the year 985 CE, noted among the marvels of Jerusalem pine nuts called kadam, which are unrivaled anywhere on earth.
    200 grams pine nuts
    Olive oil
    A bunch of fresh coriander
    A bunch of fresh parsley
    Fresh lemon juice
    2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
    A little vinegar-wine
    Roast the pine nuts carefully in a small pot on a low flame, using a little oil. It is important to stir constantly. Don't do other things in the meantime! Stir all the time and make sure the pine nuts do not burn.

    With a large, sharp knife chop the coriander and the parsley, place in a bowl and add the pine nuts, which have by now cooled. Squeeze in lemon juice, drip in a little olive oil, season with garlic, vinegar-wine, and salt.

    Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve.

    A few green onions, very thinly sliced, can be added to the salad.

    Sacred Sites


SLIDESHOW: other famous mosques

More examples of architecture: Great Buildings Online

Core content for Assessment:

Middle School

  • AH-M-4.2.31 Describe and compare the characteristics and purposes of works of art representing various sultures, historical periods, artists, and/or styles.
  • AH-M-4.2.32 Purposes of art - ritual, expressive, narrative.

High School

  • AH-H-4.2.31 Know how media, art processes, subject matter, symbols, ideas, and themes communicate cultural and aesthetic values.
  • AH-H-4.3.34 Islamic and Judaic (Humanities Reference Chart)
  • AH-H-4.2.38 Cultures, Periods, Styles. All styles and periods on Humanities Reference Chart.

Academic Expectations 2.16, 2.20, 2.26.

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