Ahmed bin Tulun, Al-Aqmar and Al-Salih Tala’a .. The hanging mosques prove the ingenuity of Egyptian architecture

Adham Elsayed

Posted on: Tuesday, 26 April 2022 – 12:47 PM | Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 April 2022 – 13:08

Many hear of the Hanging Church, while Egyptian architectural history, rich in its creations, is replete with many architectural masterpieces that Egypt witnessed in the Islamic era, as hardly an era was free without the presence of a hanging mosque, by Ahmed Ibn. Tulun Mosque in Al-Qata“, in Al-Aqmar Mosque, the beginning of the Fatimid state, in Al-Salih Tala`i Mosque. The last of the Fatimid mosques outside the borders of Cairo Al-Muizz in Bab Zuweila.

To take a deeper look at this unique style of architecture, the “Sunrise” lens visited a number of hanging mosques in Egypt.

• Ahmed Ibn Tulun Mosque

Regarding the Ahmed Ibn Tulun Mosque, Dr. Muhammad Malika, a professor at the Faculty of Archeology, Cairo University, told Al-Shorouk that it is the second oldest Islamic building in its state after the Nilometer, as the mosque was built in 266. Hijri on the highest hill of the mountain of thanksgiving, to be the first mosque to be built at that height in Egypt, and was known for the mosques of Amr ibn al-Aas and al-Askar, which were on the banks of the Nile. .

He explained that the height of the mosque was in response to the wish of Ahmed bin Tulun, the founder of the Tulunid state, as he demanded that a mosque be built that would not be affected by fire or flood; This height would be a protection against drowning and in its construction red bricks were used to protect it from fires and fires.

Regarding the various narrations about the construction of the mosque, he indicated that it is likely that the mosque was designed by Ibn Tulun himself, who wrote it in the sand, and he is said to have done so after seeing a witness in which he The Messenger neither Muhammad nor

Regarding the design of the mosque, he noted that Ibn Tulun was influenced by the experience of moving the headquarters of the Abbasid Caliphate from Baghdad to Samarra before returning to Baghdad, as he wanted to transfer the headquarters of the Abbasid Caliphate to Egypt with his capital Al. -Kata’a (Egypt’s third capital after Fustat and Al-Asaker city), explaining that for these reasons the mosque was influenced by architecture. sides of the mosque, while in it are widely used styles of glass overlap and stucco balconies decorated with plant motifs.early in Egypt.

He stressed that the area of ​​the mosque is 5 and a half hectares; This was in response to the request of the Sultan, who wanted a mosque that could house the believers for the next 3 centuries. He went on to say that the mosque also expressed Ibn Tulun’s view aimed at uniting the row, and this was evident in the use of balconies. representing one at the top of the outer wall, similar in shape to the alignment of the worshipers.

According to Dr. Malika, despite the fall of “Kata’a”, the capital of the state of Tulunid, the mosque remained present in the state of ikhshidid, and even with the establishment of the Fatimid state, the mosque remained most popular among the Egyptians, as the Fatimid mosques were in mass great preservation of kings and their siege.

Al-Aqmar Mosque

Al-Aqmar is one of the hanging mosques, as it stands above a number of shops below. Taqi al-Din al-Maqrizi indicated that the mosque was built on the ruins of an abandoned monastery called “Bir al-Azem”. There are bones buried down.

Regarding the description of the mosque, Al-Maqrizi said that its stones are white as the moon, while the traveler Al-Nasir lost that it was built of stone and from the severity of its narrowness in some of them, the mosque looks as if it will had been carved from a single rock.

It is worth mentioning that the Fatimids named their mosques after light-related names, such as Al-Azhar Mosque, Al-Anwar Mosque, and Al-Aqmar.

According to Al-Maqrizi, Fatimid minister Al-Ma’mun bin Al-Batahi built and completed the mosque in 519 AH, before Caliph Al-Amir Bi-Hakam Allah arrested him in Ramadan of the same year with 5 brothers. his. , accused of plotting to assassinate the Fatimid caliph, Al-Ma’mun was crucified after 3 years of arrest on him, but his name remained written on the front of the mosque, as it is the first time that the builders of an Egyptian mosque in Al -Aqmar are registered.

Regarding the architectural design of the mosque, Abdel Wahab Hassan explained in his book “History of Archaeological Mosques” that Al-Aqmar is the first mosque to use the trick of the triangular section, to coordinate between keeping the mosque parallel to the road and the direction of its prayer hall towards the qibla, in order to make a sharp angle that shows the mosque in a regular rectangular shape from the inside and different sides from the outside, to take advantage of the hollowed area as a result. triangle in the construction of the two rooms and a staircase at the entrance of the mosque.

The book adds that the mosque is among the smaller mosques as it is a rectangle 27 meters long and 17.50 meters wide, consisting of a small open square courtyard surrounded by a portico on its 3 sides, except the side southeast, si. is divided into 3 small porticos, two of which are covered with two shallow domes, the first entering Egyptian architecture, while the third small portico – in the middle of which is the mihrab – is covered with wood.

The façade of the mosque on its western side is an example of the development of architecture and its appropriation of the touches of the Fatimid era, as the radiant decorations contained the sun, and this was for the first time, in addition to the use of muqarna. , which were the latest in Islamic architecture in Egypt.

According to what Ali Mubarak mentioned in the new compromise plans, the small size of the mosque meant that it was not treated as a mosque in which Friday prayers were held, as it did not include a pulpit or a minaret, which was said in a novel that it . was not built for fear of being used to infiltrate the Caliph’s palace near the mosque.

And the mosque remained without Friday prayers for more than two and a half centuries, until Mamluk minister Yalbagh Al-Salmi developed it in 799 AH, to enter a pulpit and build a minaret for it that lasted years before saj. fall, and place the wheel of water hanging in the mosque for drinking and ablution, and build shops near the mosque, and this was the middle of the month of Ramadan, while the months did not pass until Al-Salmi, the minister of Sultan Barkuk. , was arrested and a fasting man strangled him in his prison, as it was known that he was continuing in degrading fasting.

• Al-Saleh Tala’a Mosque .. the last Fatimid mosque

The Al-Salih Tala’a Mosque is similar to the Al-Aqmar Mosque in a number of ways, as it is built on a number of shops that make it 4 meters above street level, like Al-Aqmar. It also included radiant borderline inscriptions and inscriptions similar to Al-Akmar. While al-Aqmar was among the first mosques built in the Fatimid era, al-Salih was the last vanguard.

According to al-Maqrizi, the mosque was built by the good Fatimid vizier Tala’i bin Razik in the state of the Fatimid caliph Al-Fateh Nasrallah.

Regarding the architecture of the mosque, in the book “Islamic Architecture in Egypt” by Sameh Kamal Al-Din it is mentioned that the mosque is located in the highest shops that pay the expenses of the mosque, which are located on its 3 sides, except for the side. east.

The mosque consists of a rectangle 53 meters long and 27 meters wide, divided into a courtyard, in the middle of the mosque a reservoir for collecting water, while the courtyard is surrounded by 4 shadows representing the four schools of thought.

As for the entrance to the mosque, it consists of 5 arches, and the Fatimids copied that design from the Abi al-Fatat mosque in Sousse, Morocco, which was built three centuries before the al-Salih Tala’i mosque.

Like al-Aqmar, al-Saleh Tala’i remained without praying the Jumu’ah prayer there for a century after its construction, until Sultan Mamluk Izz al-Din Aybak delivered the first Jumu’ah prayer in the mosque.

A century and a half after its construction, the mosque was subjected to a violent earthquake that destroyed some of its parts. However, Mamluk Minister Katmar al-Jakandar during al-Nasir Qalawun’s rule restored it and made the pulpit and mihrab present. in the mosque.

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