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Al Azhar Mosque

Posted On : 03/03/2023 Kate Clark 50
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None of the approximately 300 mosques in Cairo can compete with the Al-Azhar mosque for influence in the history of Islam.

Founded by the Fatimids in 970 AD as a place of worship and study, over the centuries the mosque became one of the main centers of Islamic theology and knowledge.

More than a thousand years after its foundation, the Al-Azhar mosque and its university, from which it takes its name, attract students from all over the world to study the history of Islam and the different schools of thought that preside over the interpretation of the Koran.

Since its foundation, Al-Azhar University has been a highly pluralistic institution. Founded by the Fatimid Shiite dynasty of the Ismailis, it became the seat of the Sunni university during the successive dynasties in power in Egypt, but, despite the tensions between the various theological currents, the Sunni and Shiite exponents always found in the Al-Azhar University a place to work, teach and debate side by side, over the centuries. Today, the same is considered an institution of great prestige throughout the world for its moderating influence and for the regulating authority exercised in Islamic theology.

The mosque has been renovated and expanded several times, having survived more than a thousand years of political instability. The different architectural styles of its five minarets are testimony to the different dynasties that exercised their control over Al-Azhar. The central patio in white marble is the oldest part of the complex, dating back to the original construction, to which are added two madrasas (religious schools) and a large area reserved for prayer. Before Al-Azhar University expanded and moved to a second campus located in the northern part of the city, students used to meet with teachers in the main patio, where Arabic language and Koranic interpretation classes are still held today .

From the patio you can admire the three minarets (from the right side to the left side) built respectively in 1340, 1469 and 1510. To the sultan Al-Ghuri, who also had "Wikala al Ghuri" (the caravanserai) built and the complex of " Al Ghouriyya”, we owe the minaret dating back to 1510, characterized by two twin spires.

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By Kate Clark

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