Name of Monument:

Wall of al-Buraq

Also known as:

The Western Wall or Wailing Wall

Location:

Jerusalem (inside the Old City) in the southern section of the Western Wall of the Haram al-Sharif between Bab al-Anbiya’ (Gate of the Prophet, or Barkalay Gate) located below Bab al-Maghariba (Gate of the Moroccans, a gate in to the Haram al-Sharif) and the Ayyubid Hall located below the Madrasa Tankaziyya (AH 728–9 / AD 1228–9), Jerusalem

Date of Monument:

The lower strata of the Western Wall dates to the Roman Governor Herod (r. 40–4 BC); the remaining layers date to the Umayyad period, during the rule of Caliph ‘Abd al-Malik Ibn Marwan (AH 65–86 / AD 685–705), and other Islamic periods

Period / Dynasty:

Roman and Islamic

Patron(s):

The Roman Governor Herod and the Umayyad caliph, ‘Abd al-Malik Ibn Marwan.

Description:

The entire area of the Haram Al-Sharif, where it is thought that the Temple of Herod once stood and which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, is closely connected with the Prophet Muhammad. The basis for this assertion is provided by the Qur'an (Sura 17: 1): “Glory Be to Him Who made his servant to go on a night from the sacred Mosque to the remote Mosque”. Narrative accounts, which are corroborated by stories from the Life of the Prophet, relate that He arrived in Jerusalem by flying on the back of his horse, “al-Buraq”, who had the head of a woman. There, in the “remote Mosque” He prayed, together with Abraham, Moses, Salomon and Jesus. After that He climbed up on to a golden leather throne and ascended to Paradise. Then He remounted al-Buraq and returned to Mecca the same night. Traces of this nocturnal journey, as reflected in the popular tradition, are kept on the west side of the Rock, while Muhammad's footprints are on the southeast corner of the Rock.
Until June 1967 it was possible to reach an exposed part of the Wall of al-Buraq (the length of which at that time was about 28m) through alleyways and passages in the Moroccan quarter. The approach was marked by a paved walkway which was no more than 3.30 m in width. The Wall's huge, lower well-dressed stone courses are from the Roman period; above them is the Umayyad-period strata (AH 41–132 / AD 661–750), while the upper courses date back to the Mamluk period (AH 648–922 / AD 1250–1517). The final layers were added after 1967 by the Islamic Awqaf Administration (Endowments).
Investigations conducted by the Palestine Exploration Fund have uncovered 19 different layers of Wall beneath the exposed level, which extend down to bedrock. It is likely that these go back to the Roman era.
The Moroccan quarter (part of the awqaf endowed by Sultan al-Malik al-Afdal Nur al-Din Ali, son of Sultan Salah al-Din Ayyubi on AH 24th of Rajab 666 (AD 10th of April 1268)), was destroyed directly after the end of the war in June 1967. The demolition was radical as it included historical buildings adjacent to the Wall of al-Buraq, especially those in the south. Buildings which stood in front of the wall were levelled and covered with earth in order to create a large paved area known by the name of the “Plaza of the Western Wall”. This demolition, in addition to formal archaeological excavations, led to the exposure of more of the Western Wall and the discovery of lower portions of it. A water canal routed along a tunnel was also discovered and was subsequently known as the “Tunnel of the Western Wall”.

View Short Description

This is the wall which is associated, according to Muslim beliefs, with Buraq who carried the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Jerusalem on the night of the Mi’raj (Ascension). This large wall forms part of the Western Wall of al-Haram al-Sharif. Its lower stone courses were built in the Roman period; above them is the Umayyad-period strata while the upper courses date back to the Mamluk period. The Jews believe that the Western Wall belongs to the second temple and call it the Wailing Wall. It is considered the holiest of their religious sites.

How Monument was dated:

The Wall was dated by information obtained from reading the work of the historian, Josephus Flavius (died some time after AD 100) and al-Maqdisi (died at the end of the 4th / 10th century).

Selected bibliography:

'Abud, T., “Harat al-Mughariba Tarikh al-Hadir [The Moroccan Quarter: The Present History]”, in Majalat al-Hauliyat al-Quds [The Annual Journal of Jerusalem], spring 2003, pp.60–7.
Al-Hanbali, Mujir al-Din, (d. 927 / 1520), Al-Uns al-Jalil fi Tarikh al-Quds wa al-Khalil [The Significant Ambiance in the History of Jerusalem and Hebron], Amman, 1973.
_______, Palestinian Encyclopaedia, Vol. 2, pp.136–7.
Tibawi, Abd al-Latif, “Ha'it al-Buraq wa al-Awqaf al-Islamiya [The Wall of al-Buraq and Islamic Endowments]”, in Majalat magma' al-luga al-Arabiya bi Dimashq [The Journal of the Academy of the Arabic Language in Damascus], 55: 2, 1980, pp.266–87.
__________, The Islamic Pious Foundation in Jerusalem, Origins, History and the Usurpation by Israel, London, 1978.

Citation of this web page:

Yusuf al-Natsheh "Wall of al-Buraq" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. 2019. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;pa;Mon01;26;en

Prepared by: Yusuf Al-NatshehYusuf al-Natsheh

Yusuf Said Natsheh is a Palestinian and since 1997 he has been Director of the Department of Islamic Archaeology in al-Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem. He is a lecturer at al-Quds University. He was educated in Jerusalem and Cairo and in 1997 obtained his Ph.D. from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Dr Natsheh is a council member of many Palestinian societies for architectural heritage and a consultant for various projects on Jerusalem. He has written books and more than 40 articles about Jerusalem's architectural heritage including the architectural survey of Ottoman architecture in R. Hillenbrand and S. Auld (eds) Ottoman Jerusalem: The Living City 1517–1917 (London: Altajir World of Islam Trust, 2000). He has contributed to many international and national conferences. He supervised the restoration project, sponsored by the Arab League, on Mamluk monuments in and around al-Haram al-Sharif, and was Palestinian expert for the UNESCO mission to Jerusalem in 2004.

Copyedited by: Majd Musa
Translation by: Amal Sachedina (from the Arabic).
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: PA 26

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