Jerusalem's picturesque mosques
There is a spot in Jerusalem, slightly below and to the southeast of
the Temple Mount, a lip of land overlooking the excavations of the City
of David, the Kidron Valley and the village of Silwan, from which one
can see the spires of half a dozen mosques thrusting heavenward. Five
times a day, the call to prayer is broadcast to Jerusalem's Muslim
faithful from this profusion of minarets, randomly staggered, the sound
of so many unsynchronized adhans creating an eerie and strangely
beautiful drone that cannot help but remind one of Jerusalem's
importance to Islam.
There are dozens upon dozens of mosques throughout east Jerusalem, the Arab Muslim neighborhoods of west Jerusalem, and the villages that ring the city. Most, of course, are modest neighborhood mosques, places for prayer and community and little else. But in the Old City, the mosques are architecturally striking and impressively ancient - in the Old City, a newer mosque is one that dates back to the Crusader era. The domes and minarets of the Old City hearken back to the time of ascendant Islam in the Middle East, testaments to an era when caliphs and kings reigned over the center of art and learning in the known world.
The most important mosque in Jerusalem, and the heart of its Muslim community, is the Al-Aqsa Mosque, built soon after the Islamic conquest of Palestine atop the Temple Mount, site of Muhammad's ascent to heaven. On Fridays, the entire Temple Mount plaza is filled shoulder-to-shoulder with prostrated worshipers spilling out from the mosque's interior, offering thanks to Allah in unison as Muslims have in Jerusalem for 1400 years - proof, along with the many other mosques pictured in the following photospread, that the Islamic faith remains vibrant in the Holy City.
Images courtesy of redranch, cyphunk, ChrisYunker, delayed gratification, goldberg, Esme_Vos, and mitopencourseware from Flickr under a Creative Commons license, and from Flash90 for GoJerusalem.com.
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