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only toward his own holy city of Mecca. From this it resulted that the eastern arcade became of major importance in all the mosques of the western district, and gradually that side of the court was amplified and extended, quite overshadowing the others, which became of very small importance in planning the shrine. But still the other three tended to grow somewhat larger than at first, until at last there came to be four well-defined transepts, forming with the central quadrangle a huge cross; and in each of the arcades the priests held forth and taught religious learning as of yore.
A still later development is to be noted in some of the smaller tomb-mosques, such as that of Kait Bey, of which more will be said when we consider the tombs of the Caliphs. In that case the central court appears entirely roofed over, instead of being hypæthral, and the several transepts diverge as before. It was a decided improvement in many ways, although of course applicable only to the smaller mosques. But with the end of the Kait Bey period
- roughly between 1400 and 1500 A.D. — mosque building ceased to develop in charm, and the newer edifices of Cairo cannot be said to compare with the old. It is the time-worn structures that compel the greater admiration.
Take, for example, the so-called “Red Mosque,”
- otherwise and more accurately known as the Gamia el Muaiyad, — in the vicinity of the sugarmart. Owing to the narrowness of the street and the press of the surrounding buildings, it is difficult to gain a view of its exterior that shall satisfy. It stands near a corner, and just outside it is the famous old gate of Zuweileh, forming a portal for the neighboring bazaar district, where the devout still hang shreds of their clothing as votive offerings for deliverance from disease. The gate and the mosque, together with the constant pressure of traffic, make a most fascinating picture, but unfortunately it is one almost impossible to photograph. I remember clambering with infinite toil upon a huge stone window-ledge just over the spot where condemned criminals were wont to be garroted in the brave days of old, intent on securing a picture of the old gate, the Red Mosque behind, the stream of passing traffic below, and the soaring minaret above,—but all in vain. It was a dismal failure. In no city are street scenes more difficult to photograph than in Cairo, where the upper air is so brilliant and the lower levels so shrouded in shadow.
The beauty of it is that one is always running across these fine old bits in rambling through the Mouski district and down through the various bazaars. In a little while you will find that very few of the mosques stand out in memory as strikingly indi
vidualistic, but that does not minimize the charm. The ultimate result is a confused recollection of a score of unfrequented shrines, untenanted pulpits, windows of wonderful arabesque tracery, walls adorned with gilded texts, — but only in a rare instance will it be found that any such edifice stands out sharp and clear from the mass. For the most part they fit into the constantly shifting kaleidoscope of Cairo's street life, — dingy-walled, dull-tinted buildings, lofty minarets sharply outlined against the incomparable blue of that Egyptian sky, - but generally mosques without a name. In their gleaming courts but few are gathered to pray- and in some none at all. But from the platform high above at stated hours one may infallibly hear the muezzin chant his call to prayer, - “There is no God but God! Lo, God is Great!”
Perhaps the most interesting mosque of all is that of El Azhar, situated not far from the Mouski in the bazaar district, hard by the domain of booksellers and bookbinders. It is a venerable pile, dating back to about 973 A.D., but frequently restored since that time with great care for retaining as much as possible of the antique. Its present interest centres in its use as a "university" - to give it a name which it hardly deserves. Entrance is had, as in all the mosques of note, by ticket at a fixed price, not to mention the
distribution of largess here and there during the inspection at the suggestion of the guide who has his favorites.
Architecturally the building is interesting, though not more so than others. It is very large, and its columns are mainly ancient. In plan it is the usual hollow square, with some connecting buildings on either side behind the usual liwans, or arcades, in which are offices, some sleeping-apartments and a library - the latter containing some old manuscripts and venerable maps. The main sanctuary, as always, is the eastern arcade, much deeper than the others and possessing nine aisles. Obviously it has been much enlarged, as the old prayer niche directing the faithful toward Mecca is now in the midst of the building. One hundred and forty columns support the roof. It is handsome and impressive, but it is mainly for the sake of what goes on there that the visitor cares to come.
All through the spacious areas of the mosque are scattered little knots of students industriously learning the Koran at the hands of their teachers, or listening to learned discourses from other sources on the nature and attributes of God; for the instruction in this university is primarily religious and the Moslem world regards it as the fountain head of all genuine knowledge. Just how many students one sees at a single time cannot be guessed, but there are always many hundred. Some are sleeping in the sun of the open court, but the majority are hard at work, taking notes, listening to the readings and explanations of their sheiks, or intoning chapters of the books before them, rocking to and fro the while. It is gravely announced that the total number of the student body is around ten thousand, with over three hundred “professors." They come from all the nations that embrace Islam, and the guide indicates the several races as one passes them at their work. The foreign students sleep in the galleries of the lateral arcades.
All the students are said to remain in residence from four to six years, and the curriculum, besides religious works, includes what passes for “jurisprudence," rhetoric, literature, and a modicum of geography. The whole thing is necessarily a travesty on education and reveals the condition in which the Moslem world remains, intellectually. The aim and end of it all appears to be chiefly to enable the students to become in turn teachers of others along the same lines.
Time was when the visiting Christian was wont to be hissed as he passed through the aisles of this curious college, but that seems to have passed. Indeed, the inundation of visitors is now so great that if all were to be hissed there would be no time for the Koran and the science of religion. The whole