Saturday, August 22, 2009

Day 76, Islamic Cairo, Egypt(5)

We have just met my dear friend Mohammad who greets us...."As-Salāmu `Alaykum". This is an Arabic spoken greeting used by Muslims as well as Arab Christians and Jews. The greeting may be transliterated "Peace Be Upon You".
The traditional response is wa `Alaykum As-Salaam, meaning "and Upon You Be Peace".
Its Hebrew counterpart greeting is Shalom aleichem
Ramadan Mubarak Mo.

He has offered to give us a quick tour of the city tonight....thanks Mo.

Look, there is Ibn Tulun Mosque, a huge and historic mosque built by Ahmad Ibn Tulun in the 9th century AD.

Mo says that this is the oldest intact functioning Islamic monument in Cairo, and oldest mosque in Egypt!
It is famous for its lovely architecture. The entire complex of the Mosque of Ibn Tulun is surrounded by a wall and covers more than 6 acres.
With an area of 26,318 sq m, the mosque itself is the third largest in the world. The arches of the courtyard galleries are decorated with beautifully carved stu
cco, the first time this medium was used in Cairo.

And there is the awesome Al-Azhar Mosque, built between 970 AD and 972 AD. This mosque was built under the orders of Gohar As-Saqlabi.

The style of the mosque is considered to be Fatimid type. Many are of the opinion that the Mosque was named to commemorate Fatima Az-Zahira, the daughter of the Prophet. The Al Azhar mosque was finished on the occasion of Ramadan on 361 H or the Muslim year.

The Al-Azhar mosque had a very organized planning of the layout of the entire structure. The mosque complex comprised an open court along with three hall ways. The largest of the three hallways is a sanctuary and it is about five aisles deep. The mosque originally consisted of three domes of which two are now completely destroyed.

The Al-Azhar mosque had undergone significant additions during the 15th century, when Sultan Qayt Bay ordered the same. The additions included large hallways, which were positioned behind the Mirhab and also a new roof and floor. Also a dome, the Bah Al Shurba, Bab As- Saaida entrance, a wooden mirhab and a marble enveloped Mirhab were part of the new constructions.
Absolutely breathtaking!!!

Last stop for tonight.......we are going shopping in the Khan El halili Bazaar!!

The souk dates back to 1382, when Emir Djaharks el-Khalili built a large caravanserai in Cairo under the Burji Mamluk Sultan Barquq; the eponymous khan is still extant. By the time of Barquq, the first Circassian Mamluk Sultan (1382- 1399 A.D.) much reconstruction needed to be done within the walls of the city in order to repair the damage incurred as a result of the Black Death.

When Barquq started his madrassa in Bayn el-Qasrayn, markets were rebuilt, and Khan el-Khalili was established.It was also known Turkish bazaar during the Ottoman Empire.

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