THE MOSQUES OF EGYPT
8.THE MODERN PERIOD .
61- THE MOSQUE OF ABU'L- 'ABBAS AL- MURSI (AT ALEXANDRIA) 1362H.(1943) . ABU'L- 'ABBAS AL- MURSI is Ahmad ibn 'Umar al- Ansari al- Mursi, from Murcia of Andalusia. He was known as Abu'l- 'Abbas. Being a devoted Sufi, he presided over the Shathli Rite, after his master Abu al- Hasan ash- Shathli. The present mosque stands on a site, part of which was once occupied by a small mosque which had been built during the life of Abu'l- 'Abbas. In 1189H. (1775) , a wealthy Maghrabi, on his way to the Pilgrimage, visited the mausoleum of Abul- 'Abbas and saw cracks in the building, and noticed the narrowness of the mosque. He therefore undertook the necessary repairs to the qibla and maqsura. The mausoleum and the mosque received continuous attention until the time of the great reformer the late King Fouad I, when a scheme was prpared for planning a large square, on an area of 43,200 sq. metres, to comprise the large mosque of Abu'l- 'Abbas, surrounded by five other mosques, amongst which are the Mosques of al- Busiri and Yaqut al- 'Arshi. The square is called, "The Square of Mosques". The Ministry of Waqfs prepared a scheme for the renovation of the mosque, leaving the mausoleum in its original position and enlarging the area of the mosque. Great care was taken in its construction owing to its importance in the second capital of Egypt, and in order that it should not suffer in comparison with the largest and most richly decorated mosques in the East. The area of the mosque is 3000 sq. metres. The project received royal approval and the mosque was planned as an octagon internally, each side measuring 22.00 metres. The mihrab and the minaret are on the southern side. The mosque has two main entrances, a northern, overlooking the square and facing the street leading to the Royal Palace of Ras at- Tin, and an eastern that also overlooks the square. The mayda and lavatories are situated on the western side; they have a special entrance overlooking the square. The remaining four sides of the octagon were reserved for four mausoleums to be built next to them. One of these is the Mausoleum of al- 'Arif Billah Abu'l- 'Abbas, and the other three are for his students and followers, whose tombs were known in the neighbourhood. The height of the walls of the mosque is 23 metres, and the minaret rises to a height of 73 metres. The columns of the mosque, sixteen in number, are made of Italian granite. Each column is monolithic with its capital and base. They are octagonal, 0.85 metre in diameter and 8.60 metres in height. The ceiling is 17.20 metres high with a skylight in the centre1365H. (1946) . , 24 metres above floor level. The skylight is surrounded by four domes, placed above the four mausoleums. The domes are double, the inner being 5 metres in diameter and 22 metres above floor level, and the outer is 7.50 metres in diameter and 11 metres above the inner. The walls of the mosque are dressed externally and internally with artificial stone. The stairs of the entrances are of Egyptian granite. The floors are paved with white marble and there is a mosaic dado, 5.60 metres high. The ceilings are decorated with arabesque. The doors, minbar, and windows are made of joined and finely carved teak, citronia and walnut. H. M. King Farouk I has followed the steps of his great father and supported this project with his care and guidance. According to a Royal desire, the necessary alterations were made to reserve special quarters for women, with a private entrance, in order that they can perform their religious rites. The Ministry of Waqfs completed the construction of the mosque at the beginning of 1943 at a total cost of about L.E. 140,000. Plates 200- 201.