From the Dome of the Chain to Miḥrāb Dāʾūd: The Transformation of an Umayyad Commemorative Site at the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem

In: Muqarnas Online
Heba Mostafa The University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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As a monument with a disputed function and iconography, the Dome of the Chain is something of an art historical conundrum. Constructed by the Umayyad caliph ʿAbd al-Malik b. Marwan (r. 685–705) in 692 on the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem, it reportedly commemorates a chain tethered to the heavens that aided the Prophet King David (Dāʾūd) in the dispensation of justice. By the sixteenth century, however, the Dome of the Chain became associated with other sites of Davidic commemoration such as the Qurʾanic Mihrab of David (Miḥrāb Dāʾūd) referred to in Qurʾan 38:21–26, and was believed to be located in the western citadel of Jerusalem. Through an analysis of the Arabic primary sources, this study situates the history of the Dome of the Chain and the Qurʾanic Miḥrāb Dāʾūd within the context of the Davidic repertoire and commemorative practice in Islam. By examining changing trends of Davidic commemoration in Jerusalem from the seventh to the sixteenth centuries, this study reveals trajectories of Islam’s engagement with its biblical past in relation to the localized commemoration of Davidic justice and kingship within Jerusalem.

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