Mosque of Amr ibn al-As in Cairo

Monday, 31 July 2023 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Union for the Mediterranean
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© Eslam elkebeer/cc-by-sa-4.0

© Eslam elkebeer/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Mosque of Amr ibn al-As, or Taj al-Jawame’ (lit. Crown of Mosques), or Masjid Ahl ar-Rayah (lit. Mosque of the Banner Bearers), or Jame’ al-Ateeq (lit. the Old Mosque), was originally built in 641–642 AD, as the center of the newly founded capital of Egypt, Fustat. The original structure was the first mosque ever built in Egypt and the whole of Africa. For 600 years, the mosque was also an important center of Islamic learning until Al-Muizz‘s Al-Azhar Mosque in Islamic Cairo replaced it. Through the twentieth century, it was the fourth largest mosque in the Islamic world.

The location for the mosque was the site of the tent of the commander of the Muslim army, general Amr ibn al-As. One corner of the mosque contains a room related in some significant way to his son, ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘As. Due to extensive reconstruction over the centuries nothing of the original building remains, but the rebuilt Mosque is a prominent landmark and can be seen in what today is known as Old Cairo. It is an active mosque with a devout congregation, and when prayers are not taking place, it is also open to visitors and tourists.

© Wael Mostafa/cc-by-sa-4.0 Entrance © Buyoof/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Protious © Protious © Eslam elkebeer/cc-by-sa-4.0 © flickr.com - Shannon Hobbs/cc-by-sa-2.0 © Mohammed Moussa/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Ramez9515/cc-by-sa-4.0
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© flickr.com - Shannon Hobbs/cc-by-sa-2.0
According to tradition, the original location was chosen by a bird. Amr ibn al-As, by order of Caliph Umar, was the Arab general that conquered Egypt from the Romans. In 641, before he and his army attacked their capital city of Alexandria (at the northwestern part of the Nile river delta), Amr had set up his tent on the eastern side of the Nile, at the southern part of the delta. As the story is told, shortly before Amr set off to battle, a dove laid an egg in his tent. When Amr returned victorious, he needed to choose a site for a new capital city, since Umar had decreed that it could not be in far-away Alexandria. So Amr declared the site of the dove’s egg to be the center of his new city, Fustat, or Misr al-Fustat, “City of the Tents”. Later, the Mosque of Amr was built on the same location.

The original layout was a simple rectangle, 29 meters in length by 17 meters wide. It was a low shed with columns made from split palm tree trunks, stones and mud bricks, covered by a roof of wood and palm leaves. The floor was of gravel. Inside the building the orientation toward Mecca was not noted by a concave niche like it would be in all later mosques. Instead four columns were used to point out the direction of mecca, and were inserted on the qibla wall. It was large enough to provide prayer space for Amr’s army, but had no other adornments, and no minarets.

Read more on Wikipedia Amr ibn al-As Mosque (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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