Al Azhar mosque
Information about Al Azhar mosque Cairo, Egypt
Al Azhar mosque is the first Islamic university built in Cairo around 1000 years ago. Moreover, Al Azhar mosque was the official mosque having the Friday prayer. In fact, it built by the great Fatimid army leader and the builder of Cairo, Gawhar El Seqelly. It was due to the orders of the Fatimid Caliph, Al Mui’z le Din Allah. The building of Al Azhar mosque started in the year 970 AD and it finished three years afterwards in 972 AD.
The objects behind building was to make it the official mosque of Cairo. It is the same as Amr Ib Al Aas Mosque and Ahmed Ibn Tulun mosque. Al Azhar mosque established to be an educational institution. That is to teach Shiite teachings and spread it all over the country.
Architectural description :
The old area of Al Azhar Mosque was only half the area it has now. New buildings, and restorations done during all the following eras made it as it shape now. The early mosque of Al Azhar consisted of three iwnas, prayers halls, and a Sahn. Sahn is an open air courtyard. The gate of the mosque located in the mosque’s Western walls. This section contained a simple Fatimid minaret. It decorated with Kofy Islamic writings and plant ornaments. They are the only remaining feature of the ancient mosque that is still available now.
The old Mihrab of the mosque decorated with ornaments and Kofi writings of Quran. There is also a Mamluk style dome that goes back to the 15th century which took the place of the Fatimid dome. The mosque of Al Azhar had three gates in its Northern, southern, and western walls. The original Minnbar built by Gawher El Seqqely was then transferred to Al Hakim mosque.
Al Azhar Mosque in the Fatimid period:
In fact, Al Azhar mosque went through a lot of changes in the Fatimid period. Al Hakim be’amr Allah added 27 amazing lamps to the mosque which made of silver. What remains of the works of Al Hakim is a small wooden door. The decorated with Kufi writings which was the dominant decoration feature of this era. In 1125, the Fatimid ruler Al Amer be’ahkam Allah established a Mihrab for Al Azhar mosque. It made out of the Aro Turkish wood which decorated with a lot of plant and geometric shapes. In 1149 AD the Fatimid Caliph, Al Hafez Le Dine Allah wanted to expand the area of Al Azhar mosque. He added some space to the Sahn of the mosque. He also added some decorations to the walls of the mosque and it built out of plaster.
Al Azhar Mosque in the Mamluk period:
In 1266 AD, Al Zaher Baybars ordered to build a Minbar. Nothing remains of it except its historical building note which is now kept in the museum in Algeria. The Tabrisy Madrasa which is Islamic teaching institution built by Baybars Khazendar. He was the army commander in the reign of Al Nasser Mohamed Ibn Qalaun. It is to right hand when you enter the Al Azhar mosque. This added a bigger space to the mosque. It hosted Islamic teachings classes and also had a large Islamic books library. The Afghaweya Madrasa built in 1340 AD. It located on the left hand side of the entrance and it hosts the library of Al Azhar in the present time. Al Gawhareya Madrasa built in the Eastern Southern section of the mosque, is a small Madrasa. It consists of four Iwans and a small Sahn.
Al Azhar mosque in the Ottoman era:
In fact, Al Azhar mosque had a lot of building works in the Ottoman era. The biggest and most important building work done by the Amir Abdel Rahman Katkhuda in 1753 AD. He expanded the area of the mosque by adding a Riwaq behind the Mihrab. It built on a higher level than the whole mosque. He also added a new Minbar and Mihrab. Katkhuda added two great gates as well. The first one is in the Southern wall. It called the Sa’ayda gate and the Shroba gate in the Eastern section of the mosque and added a minaret beside it.
Katkhuda was also responsible for building the beautiful Western gate. It is now the main entrance of the mosque. The mosque has been also restored by the supreme council of antiquities in the modern time. Al Azhar as a mosque and as an educational institution has played a major role in the whole Egyptian history. It is especially in fighting the French and British occupation.
Al Azhar University:
It is the largest and most important Islamic teaching institution in the whole world. It is the second modern university to built in history. Islamic teaching in Al Azhar University transformed from Shiite teaching to Sunni teaching. It started in the Fatimid era. it is still one of the most important education institutions in Egypt and in the whole world.