"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Damascus -- Umayyad Mosque Christian/Shia Connections

Although the Umayyad Mosque is primarily a Sunni place of worship, it has some Christian and Shi'a connections as well.

"The mosque holds a shrine which is said to contain the head of John the Baptist (Yahya), honored as a prophet by Muslims and Christians alike. The head was supposedly found during the excavations for the building of the mosque. "

"In 2001 Pope John Paul II visited the mosque, primarily to visit the relics of John the Baptist. It was the first time a pope paid a visit to a mosque."

The men just finished their salat (see left). Andrew and I are taking photos near the shrine of John the Baptist. Once again I was supplied a full-body covering which looks like a trench coat underneath a t-shirt, hoodie and overcoat I was already wearing. At least this one wasn't black like the others. Not that it matters. Just sayin'.

"There are also many important landmarks within the mosque for the Shī‘ah, among them is the place where the head of Husayn (the grandson of Muhammad) was kept on display by Yazīd I. "

The place pictured above is "where all the other heads of those who fell in Karbalā were kept within the Mosque." (All history information from Wikipedia.)

At the shrines, I often noticed people weeping & praying.

I was very surprised to see this in the mosque because I don't know of any Muslim beliefs about baptism and, apparently, this was left over from when the Christians owned this property. I could understand John the Baptist's shrine since Muslims believe him to be an Islamic prophet as well as Jesus, Adam, Abraham, Ishmael, David and other Bible characters. But I was surprised to see the baptismal place. But I liked it.

Especially when I saw all the cute kids around it. :-)

Pictures from Damascus, Syria
January 31, 2009


Anonymous said...

You call it "Christian connections" and you are surprised to have seen baptisterium....
There is no surprise if you hear the Great Mosque was built in 7th century as St.Johannes - Basilika as christian chrurch. This makes also clear why pope Johannes Paul has visited the basilika.
The so called Umayyads were no Muslim at all, they were Arab-Christians.
The correct name is in fact "Marwanids" because they are Persian coming from Marw.
The name Umayyads coming from Mecca is pure legend.
Only in 9th century the church was transferred into a mosque.

Susanne said...

Anon, yeah, I admitted my surprise at seeing the baptistry left from the church. Just didn't expect it in a mosque. :)

The rest of your comment was interesting though I don't know why I should take your word for it being historically-accurate.