THE MOSQUES OF EGYPT
5.THE MAMLUK PERIOD, 648 - 923H. (1250- 1517 A.D.) .
30- THE MOSQUE OF SULTAN AL- MU'AIYAD 818- 823H.(1415- 1420) . AL- MU'AIYAD SHAYKH AL- MAHMUDI was originally a Mamluk of az- Zahir Barquq, who set him free and promoted him. He kept on rising in the various offices of the state until he ascended the throne of Egypt in 815H. (1412). He died in 824H. (1421) after a rule of eight years and five months. The site on which the mosque was built was previously occupied by a prison known as Khazanit Shama'il, in which al- Mu'aiyad had been confined when still an Amir. He had suffered so severely during his cofinement that he vowed that if ever he should attain the throne of Egypt, he would build a mosque in place of that prison, and he kept his vow. The main faade of the mosque at present overlooks Shari' al- Mu'izz li- Din Illah, on the left hand side, after passing through Bab Zuwayla. Its construction began in 818H. (1415) and was completed in 823H. (1420). The main faade consists of a series of recesses capped with stalactites, the whole being crowned with a foliated cresting. There are two tiers of windows, with shops underneath. At the north end is a great entrance bay covered with stalactites in many tiers, set in a trefoil frame. The latter is set in a rectangular frame filled with arabesque. In the sides of the entrance bay are Kufic squares reading La Ilaha illa Allah, Muhammad Rasulu Allah, repeated. The door jambs, which are granite monoliths, and the lintel are surrounded with a beautiful decorative frame. The door, with its decorated bronze plating, fitted to the mosque entrance, originally belonged to the Mosque of Sultan Hasan, but al- Mu'aiyad had it transferred to his mosque, as stated above. This is one of the finest and most beautiful plated doors in Egypt. Next to this entrance is a lofty mausoleum. The other three faades of the mosque were restored by order fo the Khedive Isma'il, between A.D. 1870 and 1874. The entrance leads into a vestibule, the recesses to right and left of which are covered with stalactite hoods and the central part with a stone cross vault. On the left, on entering this vestibule, is a door leading to the mausoleum. The latter is covered with the dome referred to above; a door on the far side leads to the sanctuary. To the right of the vestibule is another door opening into a corridor which leads to the sahn. The mosque plan comprised a large sahn surrounded by four iwans, of which only the qibla one remains. To the north of this iwan is the above mentioned mausoleum, in the centre of which is a marble cenotaph decorated with a band of inscription, including a Qur'anic verse in beautiful Kufic. This mausoleum is covered with a high dome, resting on stalactite pendentives of many tiers. A similar mausoleum, except that it has no dome, stands opposite, on the other side of the qibla iwan. The qibla iwan was very richly decorated, every kind of craft being employed. This fineness in craftsmanship and cleverness in inlay may be seen in its wooden minbar and doors. Its marble dado, as well as the mihrab, show delicacy of design and harmony of colour. The decoration of the walls, above the dado, and that of the ceilings, together with their gilding, show a great variety of designs, as well as beauty and harmony of colours. There were originally two arched openings at the southern end of the qibla wall. These two openings were filled in and covered with coloured mable and tiles, in 1245H. (1838). The architect chose the two towers of Bab Zuwayla as substructures for the two minarets of the mosque. The choice was a good one. The two minarets are of the usual type; each of them consists of three storeys, the first two of which are octagonal, while the third consists of a pavilion on eight marble columns. The Department for the Preservation of Arab Monuments finding that only the qibla iwan remained, and that even this was threatening to fall began, towards the end of the last century, to reinforce its structure, strengthen its columns and repair the marble and woodwork. They also renewed the decoration and completed the tops of the two minarets. Plates 103- 110.