The Dome of the Rock, located in Jerusalem, Israel, was constructed by Caliph Abd al-Malik in 691 A.D. The building is the oldest surviving Muslim structure in the world. It was completed less than 75 years after Muhammad founded Islam. According to Islamic tradition, the dome is the place where Muhammad ascended to heaven.
The Dome of the Rock receives it name due to a huge block of limestone rock in the center of its floor. Its shape is that of a Byzantine building whose purpose is to house religious relics. The general location of the dome is at the center of an area called the Temple Mount, one of the summits of a range of hills that went under the general name of Zion. It is considered a sacred place by the Jewish, Christian and Islamic religions.
It was during the reign of Suleiman (1520 to 1566 A.D.) that the outside of the dome received it layer of Iznik tiles. Covering the building with such tiles took seven total years to complete. In 1993 A.D. the rock received a new gold covering through a gift of more than $8 million dollars given by the king of Jordan. The king sold one of his London, England homes in order to purchase the 176 U.S. pounds of gold needed for the restoration of the dome.
It is believed that the building covers the exact location of the rock on Mount Moriah where Abram (Abraham), after being commanded by God, went to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac (Genesis 22:1 - 14). The Dome is also believed to be the location where Jerusalem, during the time of King David, was spared total destruction by the angel of the Lord.
The ancient history of the dome begins one day when King David decided to take a census of the number of fighting men in Israel. This act was a sin because it showed he was beginning to trust more in the strength of men than the power of the Almighty. After the census the king knew that what he did was a sin (2Samuel 24:10).
God told David he could choose one of three ways to receive his punishment for his sin. David chooses three days of plague on the entire land. Seventy thousand people died throughout Israel due to the plague (2Samuel 24:15).
Just before the deadly disease was to enter the city of Jerusalem (where David lived) the death angel was commanded to stop. It is believed that the angel was halted from destroying the people when he was at the present location of the dome of the rock.
God then commanded David to do something special at the exact spot the killing was halted. He was told, "Go up! Raise up an altar to the Lord in the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite" (2Samuel 24:18, HBFV).
The modern Dome of the Rock is believed by some (though research such as "The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot" suggests otherwise) to sit on the location where King Solomon built Jerusalem's magnificent temple.