Throughout the “Symbolic Appropriation of Land” in The Formation of Islamic Art Oleg Grabar declares that in order to understand early Islamic art, one must define “an essential aspect of early Islamic culture, the conscious attempt to relate meaningfully to the conquered world, by Islamizing forms and ideas of old.” (68-69) This so called “Islamizing” can be seen in some of the most recognizable Islamic sites in the world, the bath at Qusayr Amrah, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and the city of Baghdad. This appropriation of lands and areas already associated with holy or righteous figures served to elevate Islam in its early days. Therefore, while many Jews and Christians converted to Islam, the transfer was made easier through holy sites which had been previously considered Jewish or Christian now also being holy sites for the Islamic faith. Grabar supports this claim through displaying many elements of these three locations which Muslims incorporated so these sites were highly recognized as holy by either Jews or Christians or recent converts.
Grabar extensively discusses the Dome of the Rock. Located in Jerusalem, which is the third holiest city of Islam as well as a holy city for Jews and Christians. While the location of the Dome of the Rock is a clear reference to the Jewish faith, this can be seen as a gesture of respect, as both faiths honor Abraham, or an assertion of dominance, as the Muslims were now claiming this holy site as theirs. This discussion of multiple theories also continues inside the Dome of the Rock, as the designs of the mosaics are highly Byzantine and Sassanian in their motifs. Therefore this choice could have been made as to ensure visitors would recognize this familiar symbol of opulence, holiness and wrath, as another assertion of dominance, or simply because it was a lavish and beautiful decoration.
The Islamic faith clearly aimed to welcome early converts through recognition of ideas, commandments, and prophets. Therefore, the locational and artistic appropriation of early Islamic art through selecting already holy and recognizable locations and motifs also aided in converting and familiarizing early followers.