The Art Archive / Dagli Orti

The elegant artistry of the Dome of the Rock is evident on every surface. The structure itself is an octagon. Inside, between the cupola and the outer wall, is an octagonal arcade of eight piers and sixteen columns, flanked by inner and outer ambulatories. These ambulatories rise only 36 feet in height (43 feet on the outside of the structure), giving prominence to the dome and, especially, the rock over which the dome rests.

A judgment on Christian doctrine is inscribed on the inner part of the octagonal arcade of the Dome of the Rock. The inscription emphasizes that Jesus was a prophet and not a son of God: “The Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, is indeed a messenger of God.” It also emphatically rejects the Trinity as a polytheistic idea: “So believe in God and all the messengers, / And stop talking about a Trinity. / Cease in your own best interests! / Verily God is the God of unity.” This idea is continued in the text at the top of the photo (from the inner eastern section of the octagonal arcade): “It is not fitting that God should beget or father a child.”