Dome of the Rock: One of the World's Most Contested Sites

Part 7: This holy spot holds different but significant meanings to Jews, Muslims and Christians.
6:15 | 12/21/12

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Transcript for Dome of the Rock: One of the World's Most Contested Sites
The landscape of the bible is as brutal as it is breathtaking. Here, it's easy to imagine the suffering and the patience it took for a family to survive in abraham's time and why it's here that god would demand a sacrifice so stark, and so unforgiving, that he would never again ask for anything like it. I'm standing under the rook where muslims believe the prophet muhammad ascended to heaven and this is holy to all three religions. Because jews and christians believe that this is where god commanded abraham to bring his son isaac for sacrifice. Today, this place is marked by the familiar gold dome of the rock, that dominates the old city of jerusalem. And it sits on one of the most contested sites in the world. Even the name of the site is comply chastd jews call it the temple mount while muslims call it noble sanctuary. On one side the western wall, the holiest site the jews come to pray at and nearby the christian church of the holy sepulchre, in one square mile the most revered places of the three religions and also the place where the bible teps us that god has finally demanded too much. Abraham had waited into very old age for the children that god had promised. He'd already been told to send his first son, ishmael, away. And now only isaac was left at home. Abraham for better or worse is used to hearing god's voice and one day, as the torah tells us in genesis 22, god decides to test abraham and he says, take your son, your only son, whom you love, and offer him as a sacrifice at the place that i will show you. God was telling abraham to kill his own son. You could sense that that story is so barbaric that it would have died out over time, instead jews read it in their holiest week of the year, rosh hashanah and christians read it at their holiest week, easter, and muslims read the same story in their holiest week of the year. To this day, the story is commemorated by muslims all over the world on a holididholiday. This family are american muslims living in new jersey. One son is about the same age abraham's son would have been and he's trying to imagine how he would have felt. He was probably extremely scared at what was going to happen and he was very worried for his dad. He knew his dad was going through trouble just getting over the fact he has to kill his own son but I'm sure he understood coming from the higher power. For jews and christians, too, the story of what happened next is the same. Abraham's faith was absolute. He didn't argue with god. He tied up his son and laid him on the rock and then he drew his knife. And as the story goes, abraham lit rerally lifts the knife and then god says abraham, you don't have do this. The son was spared and a lamb appears to take his place. One of the abiding lessons we're meant to learn from genesis is obedience to god. That if you are obedient, in the end you are rewarded. Muslims believe ishmael, not isaac, was the son abraham was called upon to sacrifice but essence of the story is the same across the three religions. Is it heartbreaking to think this patriarch, this person who we believe is the father of our religion, was this close to committing murder, killing his son? I don't know if it's heartbreaking or not but I know it's eye-opening and that it's important, because abraham introduces the idea you can kill in the name of god. And I think it's important for everybody to understand that this idea is imbedded in these biblical stories. This is not all kumbayah and can we live in peace and we can all get along. And yet the story is not an endorsement of killing in the name of god. So, it's a test. God is testing him. He doesn't really intend for him to kill his son. At a time when offering human sacrifice was common, this story was a call to end that barbaric practice. Still, here and in so many places around the world, so many thousands of years later, the sacrifice of sons and daughters in the name of god and faith goes on and tragically on. ♪ god may have been demanding total submission but he also decided in the end that a human life has more value than blind o obedience. In the end, isaac lived, ishmael lived. Taking this journey with my own son, darius brought these stories to life in the most profound and visceral way. It was a reminder of how personal the stories of our ancient religious texts can fee and why they remain so powerful even though this day.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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