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.

800px-Al-Azhar_(inside)_2006
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.

alazhar1

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. 🙂