Modi's Egypt Tour

Modi’s Egypt Tour Begins Tomorrow, To Visit 11th Century Al-Hakim Mosque

Modi's Egypt Tour

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to visit the 11th-century Al-Hakim Mosque here during his two-day visit to Egypt beginning on Saturday.
PM Modi’s visit to the mosque is scheduled as the first event on the last day of his two-day programme in Egypt’s sprawling capital Cairo.

The Prime Minister will spend nearly half an hour at the Al-Hakim Mosque– a historic and prominent mosque in Cairo named after Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah (985-1021), the 16th Fatimid caliph.

The mosque was originally built by Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah’s father, Caliph Al-‘Aziz Billah, towards the end of the 10th century, in the year 990, and was later completed by Al-Hakim in the year 1013.

The mosque is also known as Al-Anwar, meaning “the Illuminated”, similar in style to the name of the earlier Al-Azhar Mosque founded by the Fatimids. It is the second-largest mosque in the city of Cairo, and the fourth oldest.

The mosque is located in the heart of Islamic Cairo, on the east side of al-Mu’izz Street, just south of Bab al-Futuh (one of the northern city gates of Fatimid Cairo).

The Al-Hakim Mosque is a significant example of Fatimid architecture and history in Cairo. The rectangular mosque covers an area of 13,560-metre square out of which 5000 square metres is the large courtyard or sahn at the centre. The remaining area is divided into the four covered halls on each side of the mosque, with the Bayt al salat, or sanctuary area and prayer hall towards the qibla wall, being the largest at 4,000 square metres and consisting of five bays.

The mosque has two distinctive minarets on its north and west corners, which were modified by Al-Hakim himself in 1010 by adding a square salient around them. They are the oldest surviving minarets in the city. The mosque also has the distinction of being the oldest mosque in the world to have two minarets erected together at the time of its initial construction.

The mosque has eleven gates, of which the most important is the central one on the main facade, made of stone. The gate has a prominent portico with carved niches and squares on its tip, similar to the Mahdiyah Mosque in Tunisia.

The mosque also has pointed arches supported by rectangular columns in the courtyard and the prayer hall, reminiscent of the Ibn Tulun Mosque in Cairo.

The mosque of al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah is an important cultural site for the Dawoodi Bohra community in Cairo. The latest renovation project was the second such initiative undertaken by the Dawoodi Bohra community after the first renovation and restoration project that was completed nearly forty years ago.

The renovations were undertaken as part of a large-scale plan by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities to boost tourism to Cairo’s Islamic sites. The work was co-funded by the Dawoodi Bohra community.

Work on the mosque began in 2017 and included repairs to water damage and cracks in the walls. Wooden fixtures, including the mosque’s doors, its pulpit and the signature decorative wooden tiles that line the base of its ceilings, were bolstered.

The ornate chandeliers of the mosque, one of Cairo’s most prominent Fatimid sites, were also restored. Security cameras were installed as well as more efficient electrical wiring to service both the indoor areas and the large courtyard that the mosque is known for.

Intricate restorations were also undertaken on the mosque’s facades and marble floors.

The al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah Mosque, a nearly 1000-year-old structure in the heart of the Egyptian capital of Cairo, was reopened on the 27th of February this year following extensive renovations that took six years to complete.

PM Modi will make a State visit to Egypt on June 24 and 25.

Earlier, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said, “It is worth mentioning here that this will be Prime Minister’s first visit to Egypt and I might also mention that this would be the first official bilateral visit of the Indian Prime Minister to Egypt since 1997.”

PM Modi during his first Egypt tour will also visit Heliopolis War Grave cemetery to pay tribute to the Indian soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice fighting for Egypt during the First World War. (ANI)

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