THE MOSQUES OF EGYPT
3.THE FATIMID PERIOD, 358 - 567H. (969- 1171 A.D.).
8- THE MOSQUE OF SAIYIDNA AL- HUSAYN 549H.(1154/55) . THE MASHHAD OF SIYIDNA AL- HUSAYIN was built in 549H.(1154/55) to receive the head of Husayn ibn 'Ali ibn Abi Talib. Nothing remains of it except the entrance doorway, known as al- Bab al- Akhdar, which stands in the east part of the south faade of the mosque. The minaret which surmounts this entrance was built in 634H. (1237) , in the last days of the Aiyubids, according to the foundation inscription at its base. The only part that remained of this minaret is its square shaft which is covered with beautiful stucco ornament. The Amir 'Abd al- Rahman Katkhuda restored the upper part os this minaret, as well as the mashhad and the dome of the mausoleum in 1175H. (1761/62). The interior of the dome was decorated and gilded, while the mihrab was given a coloured marble dado. When the Khedive Isma'il came into power in 1279H. (1863) , he ordered its restoration and extension. Work was begun in 1280H. (1864) and completed in 1290H. (1873). The new minaret, however, was only completed in 1295H. (1878). The mosque consists of five arcades, supported by marble columns. The mihrab, which was constructed in 1303H. (1886) , is in polychrome marble mosaic, instead of marble. At the side of the mihrab is a wooden minbar, next to which are two doorways leading to the mausoleum, also a third leading to a chamber that was built in 1311H. (1893) , to receive some relics of Muhammad. The mosque is built in stone, in Gothic style. The minaret which stands at the south west corner is in Ottoman style, i.e. a cylindrical shaft of two stories, ending in a cone. The mosque has three entrances in the west faade, one in the south, and another in the north, all leading into a sahn with a place for ablution. The cenotaph was found in a room under the floor of the mausoleum. It was reached through two small opening in the floor. It was first observed and mentioned by the late as- Saiyid Mahmud al- Biblawi, Shaykh (vicar) of the mosque, who commented on it in his book "at- Ta'rikh al- Husayni", in 1321H.(1903). No archeologists had seen or examined this cenotaph until 1939, when H.M. King Farouk ordered the restoration of the floor of the mausolum, and the paving of it with marble. This provided an opportunity for the Department for the Preservation of Arab Monuments to make certain that the cenotaph was there. When found and examined, it proved to be a marvellous work of art, worthy of restoration and preservation. The Department took it away, repaired it and removed it to the Museum of Arab Art, where it has taken its proper place among the exhibits. The cenotaph has three sides. It is made of teak, imported from the East Indies. Its face and two sides are divided into rectangles, surrounded and separated from each other by borders, carved with inscriptions in decorated Kufic and Naskhi. These rectangles are decorated with delicate floral ornaments of various kinds. Some of these panels are surrounded with bands of inscriptions such as, "May God send victory and speedy success" and "May God rule", etc. All the inscriptions which are carved on the sides of this cenotaph are verses from the Qur'an. They do not include any statement as to the date of its construcion or the name of the personage who ordered it. The character of the ornament and its style, the technique of the inscriptions, the combination of Kufic and Naskhi, together with its similarity to the cenotaph of the Imam ash- Shafi'i, which was constructed in 574H. (1178) , all this indicates that it was constructed in the Aiyubid period. It is probable that Sultan Salah ad- Din al- Aiyubid was the one who ordered it. Plates 26- 27,177- 178.