Al-Azhar is one of Cairo's most historic places. It is a mosque, university and cultural center. Built by Gawhar Al-Sikilly, Al Azhar was the first mosque in the Fatimid Cairo. Construction started in 970 AD and finished in 972 AD. Al-Azhar is named to honor Fatima Az-Zahraa, the daughter of Muhammad, from whom the Fatimid Dynasty claimed descent.
Al-Azhar is considered by most Sunni Muslims to be the most prestigious school of Islamic law, and its scholars are seen as the highest scholars in the Muslim world. Its stated objectives remain the propagation of Islamic culture and the Arabic language. It maintains a committee to judge on individual Islamic questions, a printing establishment for printing the Qur'an, and trains preachers.
This mosque was the first to be built by the Fatimids in Cairo in 971 AD.
It has long been the seat of theological learning in the Islamic World, and plays a religious, political as well as social part in the life of the Arab World.
The original mosque was built by jawhar as -Siqilli and has been expanded many times, resulting in a dignified mosque of many styles.
Al Azhar University also has faculty o Medicine, Engineering and Science. There is also a library with books and manuscripts/.
Many people consider the El-Azhar Mosque (in translation the "most blooming") as the finest building of the Fatimid period. The Mosque is located in El Hussein Square. It was completed in the X-th century by Gohar. The Mosque was almost destructed rebuilt by an earthquake in the XIV-th century. The modern building appeared in the XVIII-th and in more recent times the Egyptian rulers emulated one another in maintaining and enlarging this venerable building.
There are five very fine minarets with small balconies and intricately carved columns. The rectangular ground plan of the original building is easily recognizable, however, in spite of later additions and alterations.
It was given the status of a university by Caliph El-Aziz. This is the oldest university in the world, where the first lecture was delivered in 975 AD.The El-Azhar University is still the leading educational center of the Islamic World.
It’s closed for non Muslims during praying.
You may find the exact direction on Google Earth in Islamic Cairo according to the following coordinates:
30º 2' 48.31" N and 31º 15' 48.78" E
The Mosque of al-Azhar was founded in 10th century as a congregational Mosque of new city Cairo (al-Qahira). it was named after Fatima al-Zahraa, daughter of the Prophet Mohamed. The first prayer was held in 972.
It is quite impressive structure, with its five minarets, six entrances and amaizing roofed hall.
The marble courtyard is original.
Built in 970 AD, immediately after the founding of Fatimid Al-Qahira (Cairo), the Mosque of el-Azhar is Cairo's most notable and one of its oldest. Its association with el-Azhar University makes el-Azhar Mosque of exceptional importance. The mosque itself is spacious with a large central courtyard and stunning architectural details. The columns in the courtyard were re-used from older Byzantine churches and buildings. While the structure of the mosque and the courtyard is original, a few additions were made over time, such as the minarets and the adjacent madrassas. Due to its continued use for worship to this day, visitors are required to dress modestly (no shorts for men, women should cover their bodies and hair) upon visiting the mosque. For more pictures of this beautiful mosque, check out the travelogue "The Beauty of el-Azhar".
This is among the must visit mosque for anyone and being a muslim, dont let go of this chance to feel the warmth as you enter the interior and see yourself the great handiwork in the interior finishing that ages with time.
If you are ever in Cairo and have an interest in bellydancing, you should head to one of the 5-star hotels to see one of the bellydancing shows with professional bellydancers.
Entry to most of the shows require you to spend at least 90-100 Egyptian Pounds (depending on the hotel) on food and drinks, which can be easily done, but there is no other cover charge cost to see the show.
Performers are mostly non-Egyptian ladies, but it is good to see a professional dancer in action.
Cameras usually not allowed.
It's best to call the hotel before hand to get further information and times of when the shows are on. Shows are usually on twice a night.
For a little less extravagance than the 5-stars, there are also really good bellydance clubs around the Giza area. This is normally where the local Egyptians go and is an insight into bellydance at it's most raw level.
The Al Azhar Mosque means the Mosque of the Most Blooming. It's the most beautiful mosque in Islamic Cairo and it was built in the 10th century. It's more than a mosque: it's an Islamic University, too - and it's supposed to be the oldest university in the world.
The oldest but not the wisest: our visit there sadly ended up in a verbal fight. Someone from the Mosque joined us and asked if he could show us around: we agreed because we wanted to know more of this amazing building, and we were aware of the fact that a donation, at the ed of the tour, was needed.
The tour ended - and I must admit that it was really informative. We decided to give the man the same amount of money we paid when visiting the Egyptian Museum: this is where the fight started. He wanted more - we knew the money we gave was more than adequate. We stood our ground, he got irritated.
Moral of the story: to avoid further hassle we decided to be choosy about which mosques to visit - and when we entered one we just turned down people's offer for explanations - which we regretted, in a way - but then again we were not really keen on another verbal fight. Sometimes, even in religious places, money matters - more than it ought to, more than it's due.
When Jawhar the Sicilian, commander of the Fatimid troops sent by the Fatimid Caliph Almuiz to conquer Egypt, founded Cairo in 358 AH / 969 SD he built Al-Azhar mosque. The mosque was completed in nearly two years. It was first opened for prayers on 7th of Ramadan 361 A.H/ June 22, 972 AD. Since then it has become the most well-known mosque in the whole Muslim World, and the oldest university ever for both religious and secular studies.
Historians differ as to how the mosque got its name. Some hold that it is called as such because it was surrounded by flourishing mansions at the time when Cairo was founded. Others believe that it was by then considered as a good omen of the high status which the mosque was going to attain as a result of the flourishing studies being conducted in the mosque. A third group believe that it was named after "Fatima al-Zahraa" the daughter of Prophet Mohamed (peace and blessing be upon him) to glorify her name. This last explanation sounds the most likely as Fatimids themselves were called after her.
The center of 'Sunni Islam'
It's a mosque, and a University that was founded in 970 AD (1 year after Cairo was founded)
It was once the center of education of many students from around the Arab world and Europe, when the Islamic/Arab world was the superpower in science & arts.
Non muslims are welcome, should be modestly dressed.
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