This essay explores the architectural history of Jerusalem in the Abbasid (751– 970) and Fatimid (970– 1036) periods. Compared to the time of the Umayyads (661– 750), Abbasid-era Jerusalem was characterized by a caliphal disinterest in the monuments of the holy city. However, it also saw growth in the identification between local populations and their respective religious monuments. This contest over sacred space culminated under the Fatimid dynasty, in the cataclysmic reign of al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah (r. 985– 1021), who is infamous today because he called for the destruction of the Holy Sepulchre. Indeed, al- Hakim’s incursion into the city was predominantly destructive. Nevertheless, his attention to the city would have productive results for eleventh-century Jerusalem. His successor, al-Zahir, was deeply invested in renovating the structures of the Haram al- Sharif, ushering in a chapter of architectural patronage and a resurgence of imperial interest in the structure. This essay argues that this patronage was carried out with the goal of undoing the excesses of al-Hakim’s reign. In al-Zahir’s reimagining of the sacred space, the plat-form’s architecture emphasized the orthodox Islamic tales of the Prophet’s night journey (isr āʾ) and ascension to heaven (miʿrāj), in direct contrast to the perceived heresies of the later years of al-Hakim’s reign.
"The Fatimid Holy City: Rebuilding Jerusalem in the Eleventh Century,"
The Medieval Globe: Vol. 3
, Article 4.
Available at: https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/tmg/vol3/iss2/4