THE ROCK: A Seventh-Century Tale of Jerusalem

Kanan Makiya, Author . Pantheon $26 (368p) ISBN 978-0-375-40087-2

Makiya, an award-winning writer and filmmaker, triumphs in this inspired and lyrical book that is equal parts history and novel. His focus is the Rock of Jerusalem, claimed by Judaism, Christianity and Islam alike as the site of Abraham's near-sacrifice of his son. The narrator, Ishaq, relates his father Ka'b's esteem for the Rock and his service to Islam's caliph by designing the Dome of the Rock, the shrine that envelops the rock and commemorates Solomon's temple. Makiya's narrative weaves together centuries-old stories from all three major religious traditions' holy books and other historical accounts. The novelization is pure magic, as Makiya brings history to life for contemporary readers. As Ishaq describes how Jews, Christians and Muslims in unison built and maintained the Dome of the Rock, Makiya presents his thesis that, before Judaism, Christianity, and Islam became the separate religions they are today, they were first different paths on the same road. The Rock itself symbolizes this connection, keeping the peace "by holding the burden of memory [of Abraham's faith] in balance." Conservative Muslims may find elements to dislike: Makiya implies that some hadiths (the sayings of Muhammad) were created as propaganda years after Muhammad's death, and has the narrator express regret that the Rock is encompassed within the Dome. However, most readers will appreciate the overall point, which is that the three major monotheistic religions once coexisted peacefully in a fluid synergy, free of political hatreds. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/15/2001
Release date: 11/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-375-70078-1
Open Ebook - 235 pages - 978-0-307-77280-0
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