THE MOSQUES OF EGYPT
4.THE AIYUBID PERIOD, 567- 648H.(1171- 1250 A.D.) .
10- MAUSOLEUM AND MOSQUE OF THE IMAM ASH- SHAFI'I 608H.(1211) . HE IS THE IMAM ABU 'ABDALLAH MUHAMMAD IBN IDRIS ASH- SHAFI'I, whose relationship to the Prophet, on his father's side, goes back to the latter's grand- father, 'Abd Manaf. He was born at Ghazza in 150H. (767) , and in his youth attended the lectures of the Imam Malik at Madina. Later on, he completed his studies and researches independently. He was a great theologian and his system of theology, which was named after him, attracted a great number of Muslims. In his later days, he came to Egypt, where he died in 204H. (819). The number of religious buildings which the Aiyubid Sultans have left us is fairly small, the Mausoleum of the Imam ash- Shafi'i being the oldest of them all. It was founded by Sultan al- Malik al- Kamil in 608H.(1211). In this mausoleum are the remains of the Imam ash- Shafi'i, Queen Shamsa, wife of Salah ad- Din al- Aiyubi, al- 'Aziz "Uthman, son of Salah ad- Din, and the mother of al- Kamil, who died in 608H (1211). The mausoleum measures 15x15m. internally. In its eastern wall are three mihrabs, panelled with coloured marble. The hoods are lined with painted wood. A small additional mihrab was installed in one corner to correct the direction of the qibla. All round the interior runs a dado of coloured marble slabs bearing inscriptions, two of which record the restoration of the mausoleum by Qayt- Bay in 885H.(1480) , and the third, the restoration of al- Ghuri. This dado is surmounted by a wooden frieze, deeply carved with beautiful ornament. Above that, the walls were painted and gilded by 'Ali Bey al- Kabir in 1186H. (1772). Above that again, runs a wooden frieze, with Kufic inscriptions and floral ornament. In this band, project eight wooden brackets, richly carved with Kufic inscriptions. These brackets support eight highly decorated beams, forming an octagon from which to hang lamps. The pendentives below the dome are each composed of three tiers of decorated stalactites, alternating with windows of pierced stucco, decorated with coloured glass. In the centre of the mausoleum is a centoaph placed over the tomb of the Imam ash- Safi'i. It is made of wood, deeply carved with fine ornament and beautiful inscriptions in Kufic and Naskhi, including verses from the Qur'an and the date of construction, 574H., as well as the name of the craftsman who made it. To the south of this cenotaph is another, by no means less important, decorated with beautiful ornament and Naskhi inscriptions mentioning al- Kamil's mother and the date of her death, 608H. These two cenotaphs, together with that found at the Mashhad of Husayn, mentioned above, may be regarded as the finest and most beautiful of all Muslim wood work. The mausoleum is accessible through a wooden door in its north- eastern wall. It consists of two halves, carved with fine designs and inscriptions, including verses of poetry and the date of construction, 608H. This date is again inscribed on the exterior on the wooden lintel of the west window. The ceiling of the window recess is decorated with coffers, surrounded by geometrical designs; this type of decoration is the first of its kind in Egypt. The walls are divided externally into two storeys. The lower storey is nearly eleven metres high, with a torus moulding running all round. In the middle of each faade, above this band, is an arched windows with two arched recesses on each side. This storey is crowned by a parapet, decorated with a geometrical interlacing pattern. The upper storey is set back on the first, so that there is a passage nearly 70 cm. wide all round, behind the parapet mentioned above. The faades of this storey are decorated with keel- arched recesses, with decorated circles and lozenges in the spandrels. Above, runs a frieze of geometrical ornament and a stepped decorated cresting. The dome is made of wood, covered with sheets of lead. At the summit of the dome is a bronze boat with a creascent supported on it. When the Salihiya Madrasa, constructed next to the Mausoleum of the Imam ash- Shafi'i by Salah ad- Din, was ruined, the Amir 'Abd ar- Rahman Katkhuda built a mosque on its site, in 1176H. (1762/3). When this mosque collapsed, the Khedive Tawfq ordered its rebuilding and enlargment. This work was completed in 1309H. (1891/92). The style adopted was that of contemporary mosques. This is the mosque which we now see alongside the mausoleum. Plates 32- 34,182- 183.