"The Rock: Jerusalem's Sacred Space"
Responses to Kanan Makiya's novel, The Rock, is now available online
On March 3, 2002, Brandeis University hosted a symposium to coincide with the publication of The Rock: A Tale of Seventh-Century Jerusalem (Pantheon Books, 2001), a novel by Brandeis professor and Iraqi-born writer, Kanan Makiya.
The Rock, a work of fiction based on meticulous research, depicts seventh-century Jerusalem, from the Muslim conquest to the building of the Dome of the Rock, through the eyes of the son of the most prominent early convert from Judaism to Islam. The novel asks us to re-think our ideas about this sacred space, tracing the origins of myths about the Rock to tangled roots in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic tradition. No plot of ground has inspired human passion for as long and as deeply as the raised platform in Jerusalem that Jews call the Temple Mount and Muslims call the Haram al-Sharif.
The symposium looked beyond the current political conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians to explore the ways in which men and women of three ancient faiths have invested meanings in the city's stones. Makiya led the event by reading a selection from his book and taking questions from the audience. His presentation was followed by a panel discussion, that examined questions raised in The Rock through the lenses of religion, history, architecture, and the literary imagination. Now, two years later, Makiya's presentation and the panelists' responses are documented in this publication, "The Rock: Jerusalem's Sacred Space."