Mosque of Sultan Al Muayyad

The mosque of Sultan Al Muayyad is a mosque of mamluk style with 1 dome and 2 minarets right next to the Bab Zuwayla initially built in 1421. The mosque holds the honor of being one of the unique architectural buildings . The construction began in 1415 and the mosque was completed in 1421.  Sultan Al Muayyad before becoming a sultan was imprisoned at a jail right where the mosque is now and he suffered so badly from fleas and lice that he vowed that if he came into power he would transform this place and get rid of this prison. So when he came into power he was true to his word and commissioned the construction of the mosque.

The project of the mosque for the sultan was an ambitious one, costing the sultan 40,000 dinars between commencement and completion. According to al-Maqrizi, thirty builders and one hundred workers labored on the structure over seven years. The mosque required such a large quantity of marble that some of it was harvested from pre-existing structures. Besides marble, many other parts of the mosque were taken from other buildings, including the mosque’s columns and a beautiful bronze door and chandelier. The door and chandelier are particularly famous instances of this; both are said to have come from the mosque madrass of sultan hassan . Although the new mosque was not officially completed until 1422, an inaugural celebration was held in November 1419 to celebrate the new building.

The mosque was intended as a funerary complex and for use in Friday prayers, but its greatest purpose was that of a madrasa for Sufi students, according to al-Maqrizi’s story of its origins. The madrasa was dedicated to the study of the Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki, and Hanbali schools of Sharia law. According to the mosque’s original documents, the madrasa was to house fifty Hanafis, forty Shafi’is, fifteen Malikis, and ten Hanbalis, and their respective teachers and imams. There were also two classes of twenty students each for students of tafsir and Hadith, and two others of ten each for students of the Quran recitation and legal studies, according to the Hanafi jurist al-Tahawi.

The Mosque of Sultan al-Mu’ayyad was the last great hypostyle mosque built in Cairo. Originally it had four facades and entrances. Over time, the mosque fell into disrepair, and today only the eastern facade and the prayer hall are original to the mosque. Much of what can be seen today has been restored over the past two hundred years and is not necessarily how the mosque originally looked.

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In order to build the mosque, a portion of the Fatimid wall which used to surround Cairo had to be demolished; however, an old section of the wall was recently discovered within the mosque’s structure and can be seen today by visitors. Two towers from the original wall were saved from demolition and serve as the base of the mosque’s two remaining minarets .

The main portal, or muqarnas is set in a pistaq , or rectangular frame, that rises above the mosque’s facade. This was the last grand portal built in the Mamluk period; it is framed with to the mosque is decorated with finely carved marble bands and kufic calligraphic script. The marble was carved in a geometric pattern and decorated by polychromatic stones and colored stucco in high relief. The main door is a masterpiece of bronze work taken from the Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan , while the dome is a typical example of Mamluk stone masonry with a cylindrical base and carved zig-zag pattern. The original facades were particularly tall for the period, due to the extra height added by the Fatimid towers at the base of the minarets. The facades were decorated with two rows of windows, and shops beneath each wall of the mosque were added in the original plans and remain today. The shops attached to and around the mosque play an important role in the mosque’s upkeep, as a percentage of their earnings go toward maintaining the building and its staff.

Throughout history mosque has gone through various reconstructions and it must be noted that the present structure of the mosque is not how it looked in it’s early construction . It’s early renovation dates back to 15th century. Later Ibrahim Pasha ordered it’s reconstruction in the 18th century. The last renovation was made in 2001 by the cultural organization of Egypt which saw everything being renovated. The mosque has prayers and sermons going on everyday and is open to tourists and visitors.

Mosque of Amr Ibn Al-As

The mosque of Amr Ibn Al-As has the honor of the first mosque to be built in Egypt after it was conquered by Amr Ibn Al-As on the command of Umar Ibn Khattab. The location of the mosque was decided by a bird in what is now called the “old cairo”. The story goes like a bird laid an egg on the tent of Amr and he later decided that it should be the place for the location of the mosque.

Once of enter the premises of the mosque you find it pretty big in comparison to buildings of its times . It’s because of continuous reconstructions over the ages. The original mosque was constructed in 641–642 AD but now nothing of the original structure remains because of reconstructions over time. The oldest structure that can still be seen today dates back to 900 in the southern part of the building. The present structure of the mosque is the construction that was carried out in 1800s.

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The original layout ( 641-642 AD ) was a simple rectangle, 29 meters in length by 17 meters wide. It was a low shed with columns made from split palm trunks, stones and mud bricks, covered by a roof of wood and palm leaves. The floor was made up of gravel.  It was large enough to provide prayer space for Amr’s army, but had no other adornments, and no minarets.

It was completely rebuilt in 673 by the governor Maslama ibn Mukhallad al-Ansari, who added four minarets, one at each of the mosque’s corners, and doubled its area in size. The addition of these minarets allowed the call to prayer to be heard from every corner, and taken up by other nearby mosques. Governor Abd al-Aziz ibn Marwan  added an extension to the mosque in 698 and once again doubled the mosque’s area. In 827, it had seven new aisles built, Each aisle had an arcade of columns, with the last column in each row attached to the wall.

In 827, governor Abd Allah ibn Tahir made more additions to the mosque. It was enlarged to its present size, and the southern wall of the present day mosque was built. In the 9th century, the mosque was extended by the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mamun , who added a new area on the southwest side, increasing the mosque’s dimensions to 120m x 112m . Once during the Fatimid era the mosque had five minarets. There were four, with one at each corner, and one at the entrance. However, all five are now gone. The current Minarets were built by Mourad Bey in 1800. In 1169, the city of Fustat and the mosque were destroyed by a fire that was ordered by Egypt’s own vizier Shawar , who had ordered its destruction to prevent the city from being captured by the crusaders . After the Crusaders were expelled, and the area had been conquered by Nur al-Din’s  army, Saladin took power, and had the mosque rebuilt in 1179.

In the 14th century  Burhan al-Din Ibrahim paid the costs of restoring the mosque. In 1303, Amir Salar restored the mosque after an earth quake. He also added a prayer niche for the outer wall of the mosque, which is now gone.

In the 18th century one of the Mamluk leaders , Mourad Bey, destroyed the mosque because of it’s poor condition  and rebuilt it in 1796, before the arrival of Napolean.  Mourad decreased the number of rows of columns from seven to six, and changed the orientation of the aisles to make them perpendicular to the qibla wall. It was also probably at this time that the current remaining minarets were added. In 1875, the mosque was again rebuilt. In the 20th century, during the reign of Abbas II, the mosque underwent another restoration. Parts of the entrance were reconstructed in the 1980s.

Now the mosque is in a great condition with prayers and sermons taking place and is open to visitors and tourists when prayers are not taking place.

 

Al Azhar Mosque

Right within the heart of the “city of a thousand minarets” there is a mosque that leads the legacy of knowledge , wisdom and spirituality of a millennia .  When you get to read deeply about the islamic theology , get to know about modern islamic literature , the Islamic scholars. One of the institutes and the hub of knowledge and wisdom that really stands out among its contemporaries is the Al Azhar Mosque . Once you enter the premises of the place you get to experience the spirituality and the aura of the place which is really amazing . Since it was my dream to visit the Al Azhar mosque for a long time so i was just very excited about discovering everything about the place.

19 Al Azhar mosque at night

As soon as we entered , as per the custom we put off our shoes and the girls had to cover their heads in respect , a cold and soothing wind just came up as if calling to come in when i entered the place, there were people from different countries who came to visit this mosque for religious purposes or to experience wisdom of the millennia. Alot of people were reading Quran , talking about beliefs and stuff and mostly enjoying the bliss of the moment.

So as i was reading about the history of the place and asking about the history  with my blogging team i was amazed how awesome that was. After the dedication of the mosque in 972 , the mosque slowly developed into what is now the oldest and the most famous continuously run university in the world. The mosque acquired its current name, Al Azhar , sometime between the caliphate of al- Mu’izz and the end of the reign of the second Fatimid caliph in Egypt, al-Aziz Billah . Azhar is the masculine form for zahra meaning “splendid” or “most resplendent.” The history of the construction goes like Caliph al-Mu’izz li-Din Allāh when conquered egypt had Al Azhar built which carried out the shia muslim activities. Al-Azhar soon became a center of learning in the Islamic world, and official pronouncements and court sessions were issued from and convened there.  The mosque was later expanded during the times of the caliph al-Aziz (975–996). According to Al-Mufaddal , he ordered the restoration of the mosque and had the ceiling raised by one cubit. The mosque was further renovated by the next caliph until 1010.

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Al Azhar Mosque

Marble paved interior courtyard added during the Fatimid period. Two Mamluk era minarets appear in the foreground. From left to right, the double-finial minaret of Qansah al-Ghuri and the minaret of Qaytbay. Behind the dome the top of Aqbaghawiyya minaret is visible. The minaret in the far background was built by Katkhuda

Later when Saladin overthrew the Fatimids in 1171 , he was offensive towards the Shia teachings and the activities at the place stopped for a while but most historians say that actually one of the minarets was raised during the time of Saladin. Saladin did not like the teachings of the Shia Fatimids so the educational teachings stopped for a while and the books were kept out. But later Al-Azhar eventually adopted Saladin’s educational reforms modeled on the college system he instituted, and its fortunes improved under the Mamluks, who restored student stipends and salaries for the teaching staff.

Later the mosque was renovated by different rulers and the later Caliphs put inscriptions : such as.

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ – الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ – وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنِ اللَّغْوِ مُعْرِضُونَ

Successful indeed are the believers – who are humble in their prayers – and who avoid vain talk

 قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ – لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ وَبِذَلِكَ أُمِرْتُ وَأَنَا أَوَّلُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ

Say: Surely my prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are (all) for Allah, the Lord of the worlds – No associate has He; and this am I commanded, and I am the first of those who submit.

The present main entrance to the mosque is the Bab-al-Muzayinin, which opens into the white marble-paved courtyard at the opposite end of the main prayer hall. To the northeast of the bab-al-muzayinin , the courtyard is flanked by the façade of the Madrasa-al-aqbaghliyya ; the southwestern end of the courtyard leads to the Madrasa-al-Taybarsiyya . Directly across the courtyard from the entrance to the Bab-al-Muzayinin is the  (Gate of Qaytbay), built in 1495, above which stands the minaret of Qaytbay.Through this gate lies the courtyard of the prayer hall.

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The mosque has the rank of holding one of the greatest scholars and pieces of literature and is one of the focal places when anyone thinks of learning islamic theology and literature because of its history of a millenna of knowledge and wisdom. So for me it was one of the biggest dreams to go there and it was made possible finally ( A ).  I prayed Zuhr prayer there and sat inside alone for a while to experience it and it was beautiful . If i fo back to cairo one day i would certainly go there. It was beautiful. 🙂

 

Cairo last day before Suez

Well its been a great 6-7 days here at Cairo . Went to almost every place. Today its 3am here and everyones busy doing something and im sitting on the dining table writing this . Listening to jhoom . I missed on going to Imam Shafi tomb that is something i regret maybe i can visit it later. My thoughts right now are scattered as hell. Dont know why im writing in such manner. Went to the pharoanic village today where we took those photos in the pharoah clothes . The photos came out pretty cool haha. Right now im just writing when i shouldnt be writing to be honest. Not feeling a thing to write. But okay ate that chinese food with the chinese friends. Ate squid, cow liver, ajeeb boiled vegetable and harami sauce chocolate type. It was healthy though but my stomach i guess isnt used to such exotic food. Right now im listening to Ramy Sabris song Kelma which is sooo good. haha. Ate chinese lunch with Raf , Vivian, Berret, Peter , Shirley, Fabiana Longo and one other chinese guy. It was a good day. The thing that i did not like about the pharoanic village was that the people who were working as a display of the traditions and customs. i felt like they are lesser than people who come to see it I dont know dint seem right. God knows though. So yeah this post is all mumble jumble and there isnt any productivity going on to be frank . So yeah now im sitting in the living room and Mera, Wagih, Basem , Cris cano, Javier, Carlos and daria maybe are sitting talking and mexicans are watching the game between mexico and Jamaica . I want to write more personal stuff but dont feel like since it would be kinda foolish to do that. My wit says lets be quiet. Also tomorrow were gonna go back to Suez so i think it would be real interesting to see how it goes. Anyways im sooo sleepy i better sleep cherios.  Well yeah today i felt “loon”to be really fucking stupid and “cand” to be really confused. So anyways imma go to sleep Bye.

Short Cairo Trip. Plus a couple days at Suez

So i accept ive been pretty lazy with writing posts since i cannot put my thoughts in order as im too lazy or im always busy with something new so il write now more about like this jshdfijksdkjfskjdf u know gibberish but genius full of new horizons and verticons. Right now me , rafe, victor , carlos and javier are sitting in the cafe  friends rock and everybody is  busy with laptop/mobile . This cafe is very close to our flat and we come here almost about everyday and sit here for hours . Me personally like to have tea although sometimes i dont feel like but i think im addicted to it. Okay been to Cairo for a night to see off Angela and meet with my very good egyptian friend Dina. It was great , went with Daria, Angela and Fafa. Stayed at the Dahab hostel . Had a smoke party lol. There were also two guys from South Korea and Vietnam who gave us company. The hostel is pretty good like id recommend anyone who comes to cairo to stay at Dahab Hostel. Good internet, Rooms are pretty cold if u open the windows . Yeah Dina showed us around the city in her car. That is pretty awesome of her. Met her brother and he’s a sufi , talked to him about religion . He follows naqshbandi tareeka and he asked me about the religious sufi scholars in Pakistan. Dina was like all nice . She gave us dinner and paid for almost everything. Went to the El Hussein place . Went to the tomb of El Hussein. Went to the market , the souvenirs were pretty awesome . Bought one for 50 Egyptian pounds. which is around 6-7 euros ( 1 euro = 8.5 Egp ) .  Yeah and went to the pyramids the next day it was pretty hot . I wasnt expecting such dirt as if the egp government dont want to own that place and all. SO for me apart from the pyramids and the sphinx itself. It was kind of a disappointment. Went on a cart paid like 65 egp each for the ride. The sun was at it’s peak. cam back got late for the bus , took a bus at 7:45pm and got to Suez at 9:45pm . Got a cab and went straight to the meeting as we had to talk to Basem Hosny about getting late and all.  He was kinda serious about it but i know hes a nice guy so i dint feel much . Well after that i missed the eid prayer because i was exhausted as fuck. So yeah been some days. Hectic but good ones. yesterday me and victor danced with the egyptians at this cafe. It was pretty awesome as they liked it sooooooooooooo much.  Today we have a meeting of the video team at like 5-6 i dont know. Lets see how it goes. Cheers

Suez day 1 after Alexandria

So  i get up at 2pm . Actually woke up at 10 but dint really feel like going out after this awesome trip to Alexandria. Tbh i was tired as fuck and really wanted to rest so yeah i dint get up till that late. And as soon as i got up i realized i have this interview of Bkf University at 2:30 so as always i mailed them with an excuse saying my internet isn’t working and can you schedule like an hour late. So that i did and she obliged . Felt sweet. So i went to this cafe “friends rock” two blocks from my apartment and had my laptop set up and put on charging and so was my phone . I was all ready and shit but then i realized i needed ear plugs because of immense sounds at the cafe so i asked this indian girl Shivani and she gave them to me. So i gave an interview lasted 20 minutes went great end of story. Now after giving so many interviews i think Im really good at doing great at them ( ofcourse if they don’t ask technical questions) ha.  Now im sitting here at the cafe writing this. The Aiesecers from Egypt are busy with a meeting with the Amal group and i dont feel like going back to the apartment or for example don’t feel like attending that video meeting. One thing i noticed and really loved is that the Quran plays all day at the cafes and every other place. Ramadan in Egypt is kinda amazing unlike anything ive seen before.

Cheers till the next post. Oh yeah and i have this meeting of Aiesec a gathering at 8pm tonight at this cafe .

Last day at Europe at this trip

I am sitting here writing at my sister’s house in Magdeburg Germany. This is the last day here at my trip at europe after the first Aiesec internship in Budapest. I have been very fortunate to have met amazing people and travelled to so many amazing places which i once dared to dream to be honest. Right now im feeling kind of tired or amazed as 1) dont know what to expect in egypt 2) I still have alot of work to do for applications and stuff 3) plus i need to pack my stuff 4) Have to print in the documents 5)get a haircut ( i dont know if i can do that now here ). My flight is at 11 am tomorrow from berlin so il have to go from here at 5am. Yes precisely. Well one thing im not worried about is the fear since i am used to going to new places and expecting anything. So its kinda soothing in that way but still it’s my first trip to Egypt or any other country in Africa. So im pretty much looking forward to expecting alot of new things. Its been a crazy ride for me after the Aiesec internship at Budapest. I still need to write to my colleagues and friends at Budapest. That’s what im going to do when i go back to Pakistan Insha Allaah. Im mixed with emotions. And i havent prayed today maybe thats the reason im tired. So hopefully i can get the time to write frequently when im in Egypt.