A Gym of Egypt: Muhammad Ali Mosque!

Posted on: April 23rd, 2021 by Sawsan Abbadi

marHaba! My name is Taha Din and I am currently a second semester senior majoring in History with minors in both Classical Studies and Arabic. I am super grateful for my time at Loyola and I learned so much. Cherish it all because it will fly by!

Just over a year ago, I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to travel to Egypt during our winter vacation because one of my family friends was finishing up her Ph.D fieldwork in Cairo. As someone who loves to travel, I took the chance and bought a ticket out there as quickly as I could; I just couldn’t waste the opportunity. I have always been fascinated with Ancient Egypt and its mysteries (e.g. The Pyramids, The Sphinx, Luxor and Aswan), but I never took the time to study the recent history of the country and explore its gems.

As a big fan of both Saladin and medieval warfare, I was excited to visit the Citadel of Cairo and take a look at the fortifications overlooking the city. Atop this Citadel sits the Muhammad Ali Mosque, a breathtaking and beautiful piece of architecture that serves as the crown jewel of the fortification. The hike to the top of the Citadel where the Mosque is situated was pretty exhausting, but it was well worth it. Bring your gym shoes and some water, you’re going to need it!

As you can tell from the pictures, I hardly have any explaining to do regarding the grandeur and brilliance of the Mosque. The building radiates majesty and strength while also being incredibly serene, not something you see often. While there were a large amount of tourists at the site (including me), that didn’t take away from the special feeling I felt when I was there. Not only was it refreshing to stand in this place of peace and proximity to God, but I was also standing in the same spot where Saladin, Muhammad Ali Pasha, Malcolm X, and many other great people once stood. It is a place of both religious and historic importance that I would highly recommend to everyone. The pictures are cool and the stories are even better, but nothing compares to just sitting on the carpet and hearing the Adhan ring within the walls of the Mosque and throughout the entire Citadel. Then getting up after prayer and looking over the entire city and seeing the Pyramids in the distance…talk about getting your money’s worth. That feeling was priceless.

I also wanted to give a major thank you to Professor Emin for giving us the virtual walk-through of the Mosque! His tour was comprehensive, fun, and allowed for us to get a good look at every detail and intricacy within the building. I noticed lots of cool things during the walk-through and realized just how intentional every piece of the structure is…down to the last brush stroke! His brief history on the construction and its Ottoman influence through its principal architect Yousif Boushnaq also gave us the knowledge necessary to understand just why this Mosque is so special and sacred. It was amazing to see how much weight it carries in the hearts of Egyptians, Muslims, and all those around the world who appreciate beautiful architecture!

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