Cairo -

 “Something enchanting and mysterious surrounds the heart when one enters the courtyard of the Al-Hakim Bi-Amr Allah Al-Fatimid Mosque in the center of Cairo,” which was built more than a thousand years ago.

Thus, Mahmoud Fawaz, a university student fond of Islamic antiquities, expressed when he crossed into the courtyard of the mosque surrounded by burlap, while trying to steal pictures, before the endowment employee in the mosque rushed to him, asking him to get out of the courtyard and stop filming.

Fawaz told Al Jazeera Net, suppressing his anger: "It is forbidden to film on the pretext that the mosque is under renovation, so the international bloggers and YouTubers have the right to continue to warn foreigners against coming to Egypt with this clear security intransigence."

Fawaz did not provide an explanation for the ambiguity that surrounded him when he stood in the courtyard of the mosque, but he "felt relieved as he stood in the hands of God, performing the obligatory Maghrib and Isha prayers, and then the Sunnah prayer in a way that is not at all different from any other mosque."

An old picture of the entrance to the Al-Hakim Mosque, by God's command, before the restoration (communication sites)

On the edge of the courtyard of the mosque, Azzam defied orders not to enter the courtyard, contemplating its details, which seemed “as if it were a very modern mosque” in the dusk of sunset, and revealed to Al-Jazeera Net about the same mystery that Fawaz felt, unlike other ancient Egyptian mosques that inspire in the soul “a warm nostalgia for pure eras.” “As he put it.

Azzam - a researcher in history - was about to go out to pray in another mosque, expressing his "fear that prayer in this place will be full of Shiite heresies," as he put it, but he soon discovered that the rituals of prayer are not different from his prayers in other mosques in Egypt.

Azzam believes that the state of mystery that he experienced while entering the courtyard was due to what he knows “what surrounded the life and end of the owner of the mosque in terms of mystery and strangeness.”

The mosque is a destination for lovers of Islamic antiquities, especially in Ramadan, as its spacious courtyard in front of its main door represents a suitable place for families to gather for breakfast, and sometimes sessions extend for Suhoor, while children and boys are having fun in the square and take wonderful pictures, in rituals that may compete with other historical mosques such as the Amr Mosque. Bin Al-Aas has the same advantage of having a spacious yard outside.

And the mosque, despite its association with the Bohra sect, is open to all sects to pray in it, especially in the month of Ramadan, where the mosque is distinguished by its 20 rak’ah prayer, unlike most mosques in Cairo, in which prayer is performed only 8 rak’ahs.

Some members of the Druze sect from neighboring Arab countries are keen to visit the mosque while they are in Egypt to seek blessings and prayers, because the place and its owner are sacred to a number of sects.

Under the pretext of restoration, the mosque remains closed all the time for a while, as the famous archaeological mosque - located at the end of Al-Muizz Li-Din Allah Street in the direction of Bab Al-Futuh - is considered one of the most cared for historical mosques with the appreciation of employees of the Ministry of Antiquities.

Antiquities experts criticized the method of restoration that led to the nature and history of the mosque, and professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts at Helwan University, Jalal Al-Shayeb, pointed out that "the unprofessional restoration caused the change of the mosque's archaeological features," adding in his statements during a seminar years ago on Fatimid antiquities: "It became a completely new building." After they squandered its archaeological value, which dates back to a thousand years, and only the two minarets remained of its heritage value.

The two minarets of the mosque are the only ones surviving on their history from the mosque, and one of them is shown in the picture (Al-Jazeera)

Exciting twists

Like its owner, the Fatimid Caliph nicknamed Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, the mosque remains controversial in its affairs. It is the fourth oldest mosque in Egypt and the second largest mosque in Cairo after Ibn Tulun Mosque.

The mosque is attributed to the ruler by the command of God, although the one who ordered its construction was his father, the Caliph Al-Aziz, the Fatimid God in the year 379 AH / 989 AD. mallow, and forcing women to wear shoes of a distinctive color, according to historical sources.

The mosque was not at the time of its construction within the borders of the capital, Cairo, as it was built outside the walls of old Cairo, which was built by Jawhar al-Siqilli (382 AH / 992 AD), but the expansions made by Badr al-Jamali (487 AH / 1094 AD), whose name is called the Jamaliah area in which the mosque is currently located. The mosque was introduced into the city limits.

The mosque represents a prominent example of the historical and religious vicissitudes that passed through Egypt, as it remained a platform for spreading and teaching the Shiite sect alongside Al-Azhar, which is located hundreds of meters away from this mosque, where the Fatimids were on this doctrine, and the architect who designed the Al-Hakim Mosque was keen to follow the example of the Mahdia Mosque in Tunisia.

When Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi (532-589 AH / 1138-1193 AD) came and his minister Baha al-Din Qaraqosh prevented the spread of the Shiite doctrine, the mosque was closed and neglected, as happened with Al-Azhar, which the Ayyubids closed for nearly a century. It until recently.

According to various historical sources, the building has been in ruins since the 9th century AH / 15 AD.

The vicissitudes of time continued on this mosque, so Badr al-Jamali blocked the entrances to the eastern wall of the mosque by building a wall adjacent to this wall.

And in the year (702 AH / 1303 AD) a severe earthquake occurred, as a result of which many arches and shoulders collapsed, the roof collapsed, and the tops of its minarets collapsed.

The mosque is open to all denominations for prayer, but the continuous restoration is narrowing the spaces designated for prayer (Al-Jazeera)

successive disasters

Disasters continued on the mosque, and most of its halls (halls) fell, except for some contracts in the tribal and eastern iwans, which the Egyptian Ministry of Endowments used as warehouses to preserve Islamic antiquities and antiquities before they were transferred to the Museum of Islamic Art and the stores of the Ministry of Antiquities.

When the French invaded Egypt (1798-1801 AD), the leadership of the French campaign took it as a headquarters for its soldiers, and used its minarets for observation.

And the mosque’s qibla canopy turned into the first Islamic museum in Cairo, which was called the House of Arab Antiquities.

During the era of the late President Anwar al-Sadat, the Bohra Shiites requested permission to renew the mosque by self-effort, and since then the Bohra Shiites - who immigrated to Egypt and settled there as merchants, especially in the ancient and Jamaliah area of ​​​​Cairo and its surroundings - have sponsored the mosque.

The length of the mosque is 120.5 meters and its width is 113 meters. At the ends of its northern and western facades, two minarets rise, surrounded by two great pyramid-shaped bases. Between them is the entrance to the mosque. It is the first prominent entrance built in the Cairo Mosque covered by a cylindrical vault.

In the entrance on the right and on the left are the remains of exquisite inscriptions, and it leads to the courtyard of the mosque surrounded by an iwan on all sides, and in each iwan there are several corridors.

At the ends of the qibla wall are two domes mounted on an octagon, and there is a third dome above the mihrab. The eastern dome was demolished due to the erection of the wall built by Badr al-Jamali adjacent to the eastern wall of the mosque, and all the windows in this wall were also blocked for the same reason.

Archaeologists consider the Fatimid state to be the golden age for the completion of Islamic art, as Egyptian artists left behind many antiquities and artifacts that testify to their superior skill and accuracy in various artistic forms.

The Fatimids invaded Egypt in 358 AH / 969 AD, then established a new city north of Fustat, which they called "Cairo", making it their capital. Al-Azhar Mosque was the first mosque they built in the new capital.

Al-Muizz Li-Din Allah Fatimid Street, in which the mosque is located, dates back to the era of the Fatimid Caliph Al-Muizz Li-Din Allah (341-365 AH / 953-975 AD). The street is currently the largest open-air museum of Islamic antiquities in the world, and was included in the list of the World Heritage Site in 1979 AD as a heritage site Frida.

The street extends from Bab Al-Futuh in the north to Bab Zuweila in the south, passing through several ancient historical lanes and streets, the most famous of which is Khan Al-Khalili, extending from Al-Hussein Mosque to Al-Moez Street, Al-Ghouriya, Al-Darb Al-Asfar, Amir Al-Jyoush Street, and Burjuan neighborhood.