Al Azhar Mosque is simply the most perfect example of Islamic architecture, designed originally to be a school, a house of knowledge, beauty, and wisdom. The history of Al-Azhar has closely tied to the history of Cairo. The mosque was able to stand its ground and maintain its value and importance through the ages.
The History of Al Azhar Mosque
In 970 A.D, The Islamic Shi’i Dynasty the Fatimids that ruled Egypt from the 10th to 12th century constructed the mosque to be a place of worship and research in Islamic studies. Al Azhar mosque’s main purpose was to spread Shi’ite beliefs to the middle-eastern society and the rest of the entire world.
Al- Azhar mosque was built on the principle of co-operation by putting differences aside and both the Sunni and Shai’i working together to create something extraordinary and ever-lasting, as a result, Al Azhar mosque became a real symbol of pluralism and the true regulating authority on Islamic theology to the entire world.
Al Azhar Mosque Facts
The mosque was named Al Azhar after the Prophet’s daughter Fatimah Al-Zahraa which means the shining or the resplendent one. It was designated for the Shi’a Fatimid congregation but later on, in 988 A.D it was transformed into a university which made it became the second-oldest educational institution in history.
The University of Al Azhar
The university was one of the world’s prominent centers of learning, attracting students from all over the plant, it started with 37 scholars who worked in religious teachings and Islamic theology but nowadays they are involved in every field of study from foreign languages and literature to all different fields of natural science like physic, chemistry and many others.
The university endured a lot over the centuries as in 1171 A.D. it was shut down for nearly 100 years by the Ayyubid ruler as a punishment when the Egyptians started practicing and teaching Sunni teachings, but in 1266 A.D it was reopened by Mamluk Sultan Al- Zaher Baybars who made the Sunni theology, the official teachings of the country.
Al Azhar Mosque Architecture
Al Azhar mosque is quite famous for its harmonious blend of architectural styles of various time periods as it was rebuilt, modified, enlarged and redesigned countless times over more than 1000 years.
It contains five majestic minarets, the oldest one date to 1340, a large prayer area, more than three massive minarets, religious and non-religious schools and a breathtakingly beautiful marble central court which was at the center of the French opposition & resistance against the French forces in the late half of the 18th century because the Azhar mosque is more than a house of worship or education; it is a symbol for enlightenment and righteousness.