About Islam
Islamic Pillars
Prophetic Tradition
Islamic Encyclopedia
Prophet's Stories
Islamic history
Islamic Architecture
Islamic conferences
Islamic conferences

57- THE MOSQUE OF AR- RIFA'I 1329H.(1911) . THIS MOSQUE is situated opposite the Madrasa of Sultan Hasan, on the left when ascending to the Citadel, on a site, part of which was formerly occupied by Zawiyat ar- Rifa'i. In 1286H. (1869) the late Princess Khushyar, Khedive Isma'il's mother, having acquired the zawiya and the nighbouring buildings, had them all pulled down, in order to build a large mosque in their place. She intended to annex to the mosque, a mausoleum for herself and her descendants, two other mausoleums for Shaykh 'Ali Abu Shibbak ar- Rifa'i and Shaykh 'Abd Allah al- Ansari, who were previously buried in the zawiya. Husayn Pasha Fahmi, the architect, who was then Under- Secretary of State for Waqf, designed the mosque; the execution was supervised by Khalil Agha. The work, which proceeded unitl the building was two metres above ground level, was stopped on account of some modifications which were introduced into the original design. In 1885, Princess Khushyar died and was buried in her mausoleum, situated in the northern part of the mosque. When Khedive Isma'il died, he was buried next to his mother. In 1905, Khedive 'Abbas II charged Herz Pasha, the Chief Architect, to the Department for the Preservation of Arab Monuments, to complete the mosque. Herz Pasha followed the plans of Husayn Pasha, the architect, as much as possible, within the original design, i.e. building a huge mosque to balance with the Madrasa of Sultan Hasan. The scheme of decoration was designed by Herz Pasha and work proceeded until the mosque was finished at the end of 1911. The faades of the mosque are immensely high; they are decorated with arched recesses, the arches being supported by columns, and are crowned with foliated cresting. In the lower part of the recesses are two tiers of windows; the windows of the lower tier have beautiful brass grilles while those of the upper one are of pierced stucco. Complete symmetry was observed in designing the faades of this mosque; this was not the case with Mamluk mosques, the designers of which did not adopt this form. The mosque has three entrances, one of which, the Royal entrance, is in the middle of the west faade. It is high, flanked by columns, and covered by a beautiful stalactite hood. Its sides and lintel are decorated with marble of various colours. The other two entrances are in the southern faade, which is flanked by two semi- circular towers upon which stand two minarets in the Mamluk Style. The mosque was built on a rectangular piece of land, the central part of which was reserved for prayers, the rest being occupied by the entrances, mausoleums, and their annexes. The part reserved for prayers is a square, covered by a dome with beautiful stalactites, supported on four arches, resting on four piers. At the corners of each pier are four marble engaged columns, the capitals of which are carved and gilded. The dome is surrounded by wooden roofs, the ceilings being decorated with beautiful gilded ornament. The soffits of the arches are also decorated with various patterns. The walls and piers are lined with alabaster and coloured marble, decorated with arabesque. The mihrab is large and is lined with fine coloured marble. Next to the mihrab stands a fine wooden minbar of good craftsmanship, with panels inlaid with ebony and ivory. The minbar's cap and the stalactites over its door are ornamented and gilded. The mosque is lit with pierced brass lanterns, and glass enamelled lamps specially made for the purpose. Generally speaking, this is one of the richest mosques as regards internal decoration. This was undoubtedly due to the great efforts of the architects who designed it. Princess Khushyar, the founder of the mosque, the Khedive Isma'il, his wives and descendants, Sultan Husein Kamil, and King Fouad I are all buried in this mosque, in addition to the two Shaykhs mentioned above. Above the tombs are magnificent marble cenotaphs of the best kinds of marble and the finest craftsmanship. Plates 186- 192.


Main Page Contact Us Links About Us Site Map