The Religious Faiths
7 February 2004 The Citadel It is odd to be in a country where Friday is the holy day and Sunday is a workday. Schools are open on Monday through Thursday, closed for the holy day on Friday, open on Saturday, and then closed for the Christian Sunday. We are told the best job around is for a foreign service agent from a Christian country because they get a three day weekend every week. Muhammad Ali is an Egyptian hero and is considered to be the father of modern Egypt. (photo 0175s) The location of the Citadel was first occupied in 810 and has been a fortification since that time. At one time it was fortified to protect it against attack by the Crusaders - who never go there. The Mameluke sultans - in charge when Napoleon invaded Egypt - made their headquarters there. It became the seat of government of Mohammed Ali who modified the walls and constructed numerous buildings to include the mosque named after him. Today it is a national landmark and the object of scores of outings for the school children who love to have their pictures taken. (photo 0173s) In the courtyard is a beautiful alabaster fountain used for washing hands and feet before entering the mosque and behind it is a clock, a gift from Louis-Philippe of France to Mohammed Ali in return for an ancient obelisk he allowed the French to take home. The clock, like the French government, has never worked. (photo 0176s) So much for my political commentary for today. Mohammed Ali Mosque - the Alabaster Mosque The mosque is dominated by two slender minarets and includes a large arcaded courtyard and vast prayer hall roofed by a 170 foot high dome. The mosque built from 1830-57 dominates the city. It designed and built by a Greek who tried to copy the St. Sofia mosque in Istanbul. It isn't as big but overwhelming just the same. (photo 0166s) We visited the mosque on early Friday morning before prayers and were able to experience first hand size of the religious commitment exhibited by the workmen in this lovely building. We removed our shoes and sat on hand woven carpets and we listen to Maged tell us about Islam. (photo 0171s) Each group listened intently as they were told about the construction of the building and the religious service. (photo 0170s) We were told that by Islamic tradition people are not buried in a mosque as is often the custom in Christian churches. But Egypt is different, we are told, and Mohammed Ali is buried in one corner of this mosque. The school children were all respectfully taken to the corner where Mohammed Ali's tomb lies. I tried my creative hand by taking the following picture. I thought it would be so symbolic with the rug, my and Fran's shoes lined up, and the hand carved alabaster column. But there is something that just doesn't look right. (photo 0172s) Can you tell what it is? I try, but an artist I am not. Friday Prayer service After visiting the Mohammed Ali Mosque we then went to the Khan el-Khali bazaar. At the entrance to the bazaar is a mosque - in fact they are everywhere and it is enjoyable to listen to the call to prayer over loudspeakers placed high on the minarets. (photo 0167s) Not all mosques may be as grand but however humble they serve the same purpose. Dull in color they are not. Here red carpets provide privacy and netting provides shade for those who did not come early enough to be able to get into the building. (photo 0168s) Women do not worship with the men. Some may think of this as segregation but think about it for a minute -- when Muslims pray they get down on their hands and knees and prostrate themselves to God. It may be difficult to keep your mind on your worship if a woman is prostrating herself in front of you. Is this a good reason? Is it a valid reason? I don't know but it is their culture and tradition and works for them. I understand even in the United States that separation of women in children from the men in Jewish Synagogues in not unusual. (photo 0174s) As we rode our bus through the city we frequently saw streets in front of mosques closed off and filled with prayer rugs because there was no room inside. I know some ministers who would love to have that problem. More than once we were reminded that "Islam has been hijacked by Osama Bin Ladin" and he does not represent the faith as revealed and taught by Mohammed the Prophet. From what I saw in Egypt and Jordan this certainly seemed to be the case. Time for a Smoke Of course, after prayers its a great time to get together with friends and relax and have a pipe. (photo 0169s) (This page is constantly under reconstruction so come back again.)
Go to The Egyption Museum of Cairo - Under ConstrucionGo to The Religious Faiths - Under Construction Go to Street Scenes of Cairo - Under Construction Go to Who are the Gods? - Under Construction. Go to Chapter 9: The Khan el-Khali Bazaar - Under Construction Go to Chapter 8: The Pyramids - Under Construction Go to Chapter 7: East Thebes and the Temple of Luxor - Under Construction Return to Chapter 6: The Pyramids.
>Return to Chapter 4: Kom Ombo, Edfu, Karnak and Dendera.
Return to Chapter 3: Cruising Down the Nile.
Return to Chapter 2: Abu Simbel and Aswan.
Return to Chapter 1: Introduction to Egypt.
Read about my version of The Gods of Egypt and Diagram of Temples.Return to Belli's Home Page
For more information about our travels write toBelli.