« PreviousContinue »
The Mosques of Cairo. Speaking generally, there are three types of mosque * in Cairo: 1, the court-yard surrounded by colonnades, as in the Mosques of 'Amr and ibn-Țûlûn ; 2, the court-yard surrounded by four gigantic transepts, as in the Mosque of Sulțân Hasan, etc.; and 3, the covered yard beneath a dome, as in the Mosque of Muhammad ‘Ali.
The Mosque of 'Amr in Fusțâț, or Old Cairo, is the oldest mosque in Egypt, its foundation having been laid A.H. 21 = A.D. 643. The land upon which it was built was given by 'Amr ibn al-'Âși and his friends after they had become masters of the fortress of Babylon. Of 'Amr's edifice very little remains, for nearly all the building was burnt down at the beginning of the ninth century. Towards the end of the third quarter of the tenth century the mosque was enlarged and rebuilt, and it was subsequently decorated with paintings, etc.; the splendour of the mosque is much dwelt upon by Makrizi. The court measures 350 feet x 400 feet. The building contained 366 pillars--one row on the west side, three rows on the north and south sides, and six rows on the east side; one of the pillars bears the name of Muḥammad. In the north-east corner is the tomb of 'Abdallah, the son of 'Amr.
The Mosque of Ahmad ibn Tûlûn (died A.D. 884) is the oldest in Mașr al-Ķâhira or New Cairo, having been finished A.D. 879, under the rule of Khalifa Mu‘atamid (A.D. 870-892). It is said to be a copy of the Ka'aba at Mecca, and to have taken two or three years to build. The open court is square, and measures about 300 feet from side to side ; in the centre is the Hanafiyyah (reis) or fountain for the
The word “mosque' is derived from the Arabic que a 'place of prayer,'
Turks. On the north, west, and south sides is an arcade with walls pierced with arches; on the east side are five arcades divided by walls pierced with arches. The wooden pulpit is a famous specimen of wood carving, and dates from the thirteenth century. Around the outside of the minaret of this mosque is a spiral staircase, which is said to have been suggested by its founder. The mosque is called the • Fortress of the Goat,' because it is said to mark the spot where Abraham offered up the ram; others say that the ark rested here.
The Mosque of Hâkim (A.D. 996-1020), the third Faţimite Khalifa, was built on the plan of the mosque of ibn Tûlûn (see above); the date over one of the gates is A.H. 393 =A.D. 1003.
The Mosque Al-Azhar was founded by Gawhar, the general of Mu'izz, April 3rd, 970, and was finished on June 24th, 972. The plan of the principal part was the same as that of the mosque of 'Amr, but very little of the original building remains. It was made a university by the Khalifa ‘Aziz (A.D. 975-996), and great alterations were made in the building by different Sulțâns in the twelfth, thirteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, and eighteenth centuries ; Sa'id Pasha made the last, A.D. 1848. The minarets belong to different periods; the mosque has six gates, and at the principal of these, the ‘Gate of the Barbers,' is the entrance. On three of the sides of the open court are compartments, each of which is reserved for the worshippers who belong to a certain country. The Liwân of the mosque is huge, and its ceiling is supported upon 380 pillars of various kinds of stone; it is here that the greater part of the students of the university carry on their studies. The number of students varies from 7,000 to 9,000, and the education, from the Muhammadan point of view, is perhaps the most thorough in the whole world,
In the Citadel are:-1. The Mosque of An-náşir, built in 1317-18, also known as the Muristán ķalâûn; 2. The Mosque of Sulêmân Pâsha or Sulțân Selîm, built in 1526;. 3. The Mosque of Muḥammad ‘Alî, which was finished by Sa'id Pasha in 1857. As with nearly all mosques built by the Turks, the church of the Hagia Sophia at Constantinople served as the model for the last-named, but the building is not considered of remarkable beauty. The mosque is a square covered by a large dome and four small ones. In the southeast corner is the tomb of Muhammad 'Ali, and close by is the minbar (ie) or pulpit ; in the recess on the east side is the ķiblah (ülö), or spot to which the Muḥammadan turns his face during his prayers.
The court is square, with one row of pillars on each of its four sides, and in the centre is the fountain for the Turks; the clock in the tower on the western side was presented to Muhammad Ali by Louis Philippe.
The Mosque of Sultan Hasan, built of stone taken from the pyramids of Gizah, is close to the Citadel, and is generally considered to be the grandest in Cairo. It was built by Hasan, one of the younger sons of Sulțân Nâșir, and its construction occupied three years, A.D. 1356-1358. It is said that when the building was finished the architect's hands were cut off to prevent his executing a similar work again.
This story, though probably false, shows that the mosque was considered of great beauty, and the judgment of competent critics of to-day endorses the opinion of it which was prevalent in Hasan's time. Hasan's tomb is situated on the east side of the building. The remaining minaret* is about 280 feet high, the greatest length of the mosque is about 320 feet, and the width about 200 feet. The walls are 113 feet high. In the open court are two
* From the Arabic 5, kis place of light."
fountains which were formerly used, one by the Egyptians, and one by the Turks. On the eastern side are still to be seen a few of the balls which were fired at the mosque by the army of Napoleon.
The Mosque of Barkûk (A.D. 1382-1399) contains the tomb of the daughter of Barķūķ.
The Mosque of Mu'ayyad, one of the Circassian Mamluks, was founded about 1412; it is also known as the “Red Mosque,” from the colour of the walls outside. Externally it measures about 300 feet by 250 feet, and possesses an internal court, surrounded by double colonnades on three sides, and a triple range of arches on the side looking towards Mecca, where also are situated-as in that of Barķūķ--the tombs of the founder and his family. A considerable number of ancient columns have been used in the erection of the building, but the superstructure is so light and elegant that the effect is agreeable. The bronze gate in front belonged originally to the mosque of Sultan Hasan.
The Mosque of Kā'it Bey (A.D. 1468–1496), one of the last independent Mamluk sulțâns of Egypt, is about eighty feet long and seventy feet wide; it has some fine mosaics, and is usually considered the finest piece of architecture in Cairo.
The Mosque al-Ghûri was built by the Sultar Kansuweh al-Ghûri about 1602; it is one of the most beautiful mosques in Cairo.
The Mosque of Sittah Zenab was begun late in the XVIIIth century; it contains the tomb of Zênab, the granddaughter of the Prophet.
The Mosque of Al-Hasanên, i.e., the mosque of Hasan and Husên, the sons of 'Ali the son-in-law of the Prophet, is said to contain the head of Husên, who was slain at Kerbela A.D. 680 ; the head was first sent to Damascus and afterwards brought to Cairo.
The Tombs of the Khalifas.*
These beautiful buildings are situated on the eastern side of the city, and contain the tombs of the members of the families of the Circassian Mamluk Sultans who reigned from A.D. 1382-1517. The tomb-mosques of Yûsuf, alAshraf, and the tomb of al-Ghûri (A.D. 1501-1516) are to the north-east of the Bâb an-Nasr; the tomb-mosques of Yusuf and al-Ashraf are only to be seen by special permission. In the tomb-mosque of Barkûk are buried that sulțân, his son the Sultan Farag (A.D. 1399-1412), and various other members of the family. The limestone pulpit and the two minarets are very beautiful specimens of stone work. To the west of this tomb-mosque is the tomb of Sultan Sulêmân, and near that are the tombs of the Seven Women, the tomb-mosque of Barsbey (A.D. 1422-1438), the Maʻabed ar-Rifa'i, and the tomb of the mother of Barsbey. The most beautiful of all these tombs is the tomb-mosque of Ķd'it Bey (A.D. 1468-1496), which is well worthy of more than one visit.
The Tombs of the Mamlûks. †
These interesting buildings formed the resting places of a number of the Bahrite Mamlûks, who ruled over Egypt from 1250 to 1380. They have fallen into a terrible state of neglect and decay, and of many of these tombs only the minarets remain.
• The word "Khalifa,' Arabic, alá, successor' (of Muḥammad) or • vicar' (of God upon earth), and was a title applied to the head of the Muslim world. The last Khalifa died in Egypt about A.D. 1517. † The word • Mamlûk'
slave,' Arabic plur.