Did Abd al-Malik Build the Dome of the Rock to Shift the Hajj from Makkah to Jerusalem ?

Intro­duc­tionAdapt­ed from Prof. Mustafa As-Seba’i, As-Sun­nah wa Makanatuha fe At-Tashri’ Al-Isla­mi (The Sun­nah and its Posi­tion in Islam­ic Jurispru­dence), Dar Al-Salam Print­ing Pub­li­ca­tion & Dis­tri­b­u­tion, Cairo.

The Jew­ish Ori­en­tal­ist Ignaz Goldz­i­her claimed that the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Mar­wan had built the Dome of the Rock to pre­vent the peo­ple of Syr­ia and Iraq from the Hajj (pil­grim­age) to Makkah and in order to reli­gious­ly jus­ti­fy this act, his friend Al-Zuhri fab­ri­cat­ed the hadith of Do not set out on a jour­ney…” Goldz­i­her’s charge was that :

When the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik wished the stop the pil­grim­ages to Makkah because he was wor­ried lest his rival Abdul­lah b. Zubayr should force the Syr­i­ans jour­ney­ing to the holy places in Hijaz to pay him homage, he had to recourse to the expe­di­ent of the doc­trine of the vic­ar­i­ous hajj to the Qub­bat al-Sakhra in Jerusalem. He decreed that the oblig­a­tory cir­cum­am­bu­la­tion (tawaf) could take place at the sacred place in Jerusalem with the same valid­i­ty as that around the Kac­ba ordained in Islam­ic Law. The pious the­olo­gian al-Zuhri has giv­en the task of jus­ti­fy­ing this polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed reform of reli­gious life by mak­ing up and spread­ing a say­ing traced back to the Prophet, accord­ing to which there are three mosques to which peo­ple may make pil­grim­ages : those in Makkah, Med­i­na and Jerusalem.Ignaz Goldz­i­her, Mus­lim Stud­ies Vol. 2, pp. 44 – 45

It does not need to be men­tioned that this is indeed one of the won­ders of lying, dis­tor­tion and manip­u­la­tion of his­tor­i­cal facts. Nat­u­ral­ly, the Chris­t­ian mis­sion­ar­ies get very excit­ed when they see polem­i­cal mate­r­i­al like Goldz­i­her’s, and hence duti­ful­ly par­rot it with­out check­ing for clar­i­fi­ca­tion. Hence, it is left to the Mus­lims to fill in the void of scholas­tic integri­ty left by the mis­sion­ar­ies. We would like to exam­ine the weak­ness­es of the hypoth­e­sis that the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik, by erect­ing the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, intend­ed to divert the Hajj from Makkah to Jerusalem.

The Weak­ness of the Hypothesis

The fol­low­ing are the list of our obser­va­tions regard­ing the weak­ness of this hypoth­e­sis that the Caliph Abd al-Malik built the Dome of the Rock to divert the Hajj from Makkah to Jerusalem :

First : Trust­wor­thy his­to­ri­ans did not dis­agree con­cern­ing the fact that the one who built the Dome of the Rock was al-Walid ibn cAbd al‑M?k and this was stat­ed by Ibn ?Asak­er, At-Tabari, Ibn-ul-Athir, Ibn Khal­dun, Ibn Kathir and oth­ers. They nev­er men­tioned a sin­gle report relat­ing its build­ing to cAbd al‑M?k. Undoubt­ed­ly, its build­ing ? as Goldz­i­her claimed — to be the new Ka‘abah would be one of the great­est and most sig­nif­i­cant events in the his­to­ry of Islam and Mus­lims, and it is impos­si­ble for such event to pass with­out doc­u­men­ta­tion, espe­cial­ly since those his­to­ri­ans used to doc­u­ment far less sig­nif­i­cant events like the dates of schol­ars’ demise, names of offi­cial judges, etc. If cAbd al‑M?k built it, they would men­tion it, but they men­tioned its build­ing in the biog­ra­phy of Al-Walid, and they were trust­wor­thy his­to­ri­ans and well-versed in doc­u­ment­ing his­to­ry. Yes, it was indeed men­tioned in the book of Al-Hayawan” by Al-Dumairy on author­i­ty of Ibn Kha­lakan that Abd al‑M?k built the Dome, the text reads as

Abdul-Malik built it and peo­ple used to stand at it on the Day of Arafat

but this is a weak report and con­tra­dicts what is agreed upon by mas­ters of his­to­ry. More­over, the text does not imply that he built it to divert pil­grim­age from Makkah ; but peo­ple used to stand at it by them­selves. This was a com­mon prac­tice in many Islam­ic cities which schol­ars repet­i­tive­ly dis­cour­aged. There is a big dif­fer­ence between pil­grim­age to it and stand­ing in it by sim­u­lat­ing the stand­ing of pil­grims at Arafat, so that those who could not perform pilgrimage may share the pilgrims in heavenly rewards. This practice was not confined to the Dome of the Rock; people of every Islamic city used to gather in the middle of the city and stand as the pilgrims do atArafat. Fur­ther­more, it is doubt­ful that the ambu­la­to­ries of the Dome of the Rock would have allowed the com­plex rit­u­als of tawaf and it would be far more sim­pler to mere­ly to repro­duce the Ka‘abah instead of design­ing the elab­o­rate Dome.This argu­ment regard­ing tawaf was put for­ward in Karen Arm­strong, Jerusalem : One City, Three Faiths (Bal­lan­tine Books, 1997), pp. 240 – 241

Sec­ond : The exact text of the hadith does not include the word pil­grim­age” (Ar. al-Hajj) at all. It actu­al­ly reads as :

Do not set out on a jour­ney except to three Mosques : Al-Masjid Al-Haram, the Mosque of God?s Apos­tle and the Mosque of Al-Aqsa (Jerusalem).

It does not invite peo­ple to per­form the pil­grim­age” to Jerusalem, but Goldz­i­her trans­mit­ted the hadith as three Mosques to which peo­ple may make pil­grim­age”. This is indeed sci­en­tif­ic hon­esty” and research exhib­it­ed by the Orientalist !

Even if we sup­posed that Al-Zuhri fab­ri­cat­ed this hadith to please Abd al‑M?k, then why did he not explic­it­ly invite peo­ple to per­form the pil­grim­age in Jerusalem ? This hadith does none but indi­cate the virtues of Jerusalem, pray­ing and vis­it­ing it not lim­it­ed with a cer­tain time which is already stat­ed by the Qur’an.Refer to Qur’an, 17:1 So, how the pur­pose of Abd al‑M?k (of divert­ing pil­grim­age from Makkah to Jerusalem) could be achieved by the aid of this hadith ?

Third : The inci­dent as claimed by Goldz­i­her is total­ly irra­tional, because estab­lish­ing a build­ing to make peo­ple per­form pil­grim­age to is an overt act of dis­be­lief and a polit­i­cal sui­cide for the Caliph. So, how could Abd al-Malik, who used to be called the Pigeon of the Mosque” for his exces­sive pray­ing, make such an act ?

In addi­tion, his ene­mies accused him of many awful things, but they nei­ther accused him of dis­be­lief nor slan­dered him for build­ing the Dome. If this mat­ter were estab­lished, they would put it first in the list of accusations.

Fourth : Al-Zuhri was born in either 51 or 58 A.H., while Abdul­lah Ibn al-Zubayr was killed in 73 A.H. So, Al-Zuhri then would be 22 or 15 years old. Is it pos­si­ble for him at that age to be so rep­utable among Mus­lim nation that they accept from him a fab­ri­cat­ed hadith invit­ing them to pil­grim­age in Jerusalem instead of Makkah ?

Fifth : His­tor­i­cal reports are clear con­cern­ing the fact that Al-Zuhri nei­ther knew nor met Abd al-Malik dur­ing Ibn al-Zubayr’s life­time. Al-Zahabi men­tioned that Al-Zuhri vis­it­ed cAbd al‑M?k for the first time in about 80 A.H.Ibn Asak­er report­ed that it was in 82 A.H. and he was so young that Abd al-Malik test­ed him and advised him to seek knowl­edge in Mad­i­nah. So how could any­one claim that Al-Zuhri ful­filled the desire of his friend Abd al-Malik and fab­ri­cat­ed a hadith to divert the pil­grim­age from Makkah to Jerusalem dur­ing the era of Ibn al-Zubayr ?

Sixth : The hadith of ?Do not set out on a jour­ney…??? was nar­rat­ed by all ref­er­ences of Sun­nah, and it is report­ed through isnad (chains of trans­mit­ters) oth­er than Al-Zuhri?s. Imam al-Bukhari report­ed it on author­i­ty of Abu Sa’eed Al-Khidri with­out Al-Zuhri?s chain. Imam Mus­lim report­ed it from three dif­fer­ent chains of trans­mit­ters, only one of them was through Al-Zuhri. So, Al-Zuhri was not the only one who trans­mit­ted this hadith as Goldz­i­her claimed, but there were oth­ers who trans­mit­ted the hadith as well, as shown above.

When Sheikh-ul-Islam Ibn Taimiyyah was asked about the rul­ing of vis­it­ing and pray­ing in Jerusalem, he answered that

It is estab­lished in both Sahihs that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, Do not set out on a jour­ney except to three Mosques : Al-Masjid Al-Haram, the Mosque of God?s Apos­tle and the Mosque of Al-Aqsa (Jerusalem)’. It is stat­ed in both Sahihs on author­i­ty of Abu Sa?eed, Abu Hurairah and oth­ers. It is an accept­able hadith whom schol­ars agreed upon its authen­tic­i­ty, accep­tance and belief.

Sev­enth : Al-Zuhri nar­rat­ed this hadith on author­i­ty of his Sheikh Sa?eed Ibn-ul-Musaiyyb, and it is well-known that Ibn-ul-Musaiyyb would nev­er stay silent if Al-Zuhri fab­ri­cat­ed this hadith on his author­i­ty to please the Umayyads who hurt and per­se­cut­ed him. Sa?eed Ibn-ul-Musayy­ib died in 93 A.H., i.e., 20 years after death of Ibn al-Zubayr, so how would he keep silent all this peri­od espe­cial­ly we knew he nev­er feared pow­er or pressure ?

Con­clu­sion : The weak assump­tion of Goldz­i­her col­laps­es before sound his­tor­i­cal facts ; that the Umayyad Caliph Abd al‑M?k did not build Dome of the Rock, the pil­grim­age was nev­er shift­ed to Jerusalem, the hadith relat­ed by Al-Zuhri (and oth­ers) is authen­tic and there was no chance for Al-Zuhri to meet Abdul-Malik dur­ing Ibn al-Zubayr’s life­time, let alone fab­ri­cat­ing hadith for him.

Posi­tion of Al-Zuhri as a Scholar

Ibn Sa’ad, the author of Al-Tabaqat, said, Al-Zuhri is trust­wor­thy, well-versed in sci­ence, Hadith and nar­ra­tion and a col­lec­tive theologian.”

Imam Ahmad said, Al-Zuhri is the best man in Hadith and of the best chain of reporters.”

Ibn Abi Hatim said, Abu Zar?ah was asked, Which chains of reporters are most authen­tic?’ he answered, Four ! The first is that of Al-Zuhri on author­i­ty of Salem on author­i­ty of his father’ ”.

Ibn Hab­ban said in his book Ath-The­qat (i.e., The Trust­wor­thy), Muham­mad Ibn Mus­lim Ibn She­hab Al-Zuhri Al-Qurashi : his nick­name is Abu Bakr, he wit­nessed ten of the Com­pan­ions and was the best mem­o­riz­er (of Hadith) in his time and the best nar­ra­tor of tra­di­tions. He was a pious the­olo­gian. Peo­ple used to report on his authority.”

Saleh Ibn Ahmad said, My father told me,‘Al-Zuhri is Madani (i.e., from Mad­i­nah), Tab?i (i.e., a dis­ci­ple of Prophet?s Com­pan­ions) and trustworthy.”

Az-Zahabi in Tathk­er­at-ul-Huf­faz (i.e., The Reminder of Mem­o­riz­ers) said, He is the mas­ter of mem­o­riz­ers (of Hadith), the Imam, the Rock.”

Ibn Hajar in Tahz­ib-ul-Tahz­ib (i.e., Refin­ing of the Refined) said, He is Abu Bakr, the jurist, the mem­o­riz­er (of Hadith), the Madani (i.e., from Mad­i­nah), one of Imams and mas­ters and the schol­ar of Hijaz and Sham.”

Ibn Hajar also said in At-Taqrib” (i.e., The Approx­i­ma­tion), He is the the­olo­gian and the mem­o­riz­er (of Hadith). It is agreed upon his mag­nif­i­cence and excellence.”

Reporters of hadith schol­ars and crit­ics agreed upon his authen­tic­i­ty and hon­esty. Many peo­ple nar­rat­ed on his author­i­ty e.g., Malek, Abu Han­i­fah, Ataa Ibn Abi Rabah,Umar Ibn Abdul-Aziz, IbnAiyy­nah, Al-Laith Ibn Sa’ad, Al-Awza?i, Ibn Guraig, etc. Both Sahihs of Al-Bukhari and Mus­lim, the four Sunans, Muwat­ta of Malik, Mus­nads of Ash-Shaf?i and Ahmad and oth­ers includ­ed hadiths on his authority.

This is the posi­tion of Al-Zuhri as a schol­ar and this is the atti­tude of Mus­lim schol­ars toward him ; none accused him of some­thing that did not hap­pen or doubt­ed his hon­esty and truth­ful­ness. But the Jew­ish Ori­en­tal­ist Goldz­i­her was ready to accuse him of fab­ri­cat­ing hadith and telling lies just to please the Umayyad Caliph !

The Rela­tion­ship between Al-Zuhri and The Umayyads

Goldz­i­her has claimed that the rela­tion­ship between Al-Zuhri and the Umayyad Caliphs gave them the change to use him in fab­ri­cat­ing hadiths that serve their desires. We do not see how this rela­tion­ship could be a sign of using him. We used to see sci­en­tists and schol­ars close to Kings and Caliphs with­out this affect­ing their hon­esty and truth­ful­ness espe­cial­ly a mag­nif­i­cent the­olo­gian like Al-Zuhri, there is none that might affect his hon­esty and piety. On the con­trary, we find this rela­tion­ship was a means to guide the Caliphs when­ev­er they went wrong. For exam­ple, it is men­tioned in Al-‘Uqd-ul-Farid”:

Al-Zuhri once vis­it­ed Al-Walid Ibn Abdul-Malik, so the lat­ter said, What about this hadith whom peo­ple of Syr­ia nar­rate?”. Which hadith, O’ Com­man­der of Believ­ers?” Al-Zuhri said. They nar­rate that if God gives a ser­vant king­ship over his peo­ple, He doc­u­ments for him the good deeds and not the bad deeds!” Al-Walid said False, O Com­man­der of Believ­ers ! A Prophet Caliph or a Caliph not Prophet is more hon­ourable in the sight of God?” Al-Zuhri said A Prophet Caliph”. Al-Walid said Well, God (glo­ry be to Him) said to His Prophet David, O David ! We did indeed make thee a Caliph on earth : so judge thou between men in truth (and jus­tice): nor fol­low thou the lusts (of thy heart), for they will mis­lead thee from the Path of God : for those who wan­der astray from the Path of God, is a Penal­ty Griev­ous, for that they for­get the Day of Account.’ (Holy Qur’an 38:26). This is a threat ? O Com­man­der of Believ­ers — to a Prophet Caliph, what about a Caliph not Prophet?” Al-Zuhri said. Peo­ple do mis­guide us away from Faith.” Al-Walid said.Ibn Abd-Rab­buh, Al-‘Uqd-ul-Farid Vol. 1, p. 60

Look how the rela­tion­ship between a man like Al-Zuhri and a Caliph like Al-Walid is ben­e­fi­cial to the nation ! Is this the posi­tion of a man who sub­mits to desires of rulers and Caliphs ? On the con­trary, he defends the Faith, pro­tects the Sun­nah from false­hood of forg­ers and pre­vents the Caliph from being mis­guid­ed by false narratives.

Then look what Ibn Asak­er nar­rat­ed in his book Tarikh Demashq (i.e., The His­to­ry of Dam­as­cus) on author­i­ty of Imam Ash-Shafi’i :

The Caliph Hes­ham Ibn Abdul-Malik asked Ibn She­hab Al-Zuhri about the exe­ge­sis of “…and to him who took on him­self the lead among them, will be a Penal­ty griev­ous.” (Holy Qur’an 24:11). Who took on him­self the lead among them?” Hes­ham asked. He is Abdul­lah Ibn Saloul.” Al-Zuhri answered. Liar ! Nay, he is Ali Ibn Abi Taleb.” Hes­ham said, I’m a liar ? No father is yours ! I swear by God if a caller from the sky told me that God made lying law­ful, I would nev­er lie. Such-and-such per­sons report­ed that the one who took on him­self the lead among them is Abdul­lah Ibn Saloul.” Al-Zuhri said while filled with fury.

This is what Ash-Shafi’i doc­u­ment­ed more than eight cen­turies ago before Goldz­i­her came to exis­tence and accused Al-Zuhri of forgery due to his rela­tion­ship with Caliphs. Is not this sto­ry enough proof that his rela­tion­ship with Caliphs was far from affect­ing his hon­esty and piety ? A man say­ing to the Caliph No father is yours!”, which is a very deroga­to­ry expres­sion, is cer­tain­ly not from a man that may fear the pow­er of the Caliphs or sub­mit to their whims and desires to utter false­hood against the Holy Prophet (P).

If Al-Zuhri were real­ly a forg­er of Hadith, then why did not his con­tem­po­raries denounce or crit­i­cize him ? Why did not Sheikh Sa’eed Ibn-ul-Musayy­ib — who had nev­er feared the pow­er of the Umayyads — denounce him ? On the con­trary, all his con­tem­po­raries authen­ti­cat­ed him. Was that out of fear ? If so, then why did not schol­ars dur­ing the era of Abbasids crit­i­cize him espe­cial­ly since it was known that he was close to the Umayyads ?

Aren’t the silence of his teach­ers, espe­cial­ly Sa’eed Ibn-ul-Musayy­ib, towards him, report­ing on his author­i­ty by all schol­ars of the time, then his authen­ti­ca­tion by schol­ars of the Abbasid era — despite his rela­tion­ship with the Umayyads — evi­dent proofs that his rep­u­ta­tion is above suspicion ?

And only God knows best. Did Abd al-Malik Build the Dome of the Rock to Shift the Hajj from Makkah to Jerusalem? 1Endmark


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