CAIRO – 16 January 2022: The Fatimid state was the golden age of Islamic art in Egypt. Egyptian artists of that era left behind many antiquities that testify to their superior skill and accuracy in various artistic fields.
The Fatimids invaded Egypt in 358 AH / 969 AD, then established a new city north of Fustat, which they called "Cairo", making it their capital. Al-Azhar Mosque was the first mosque they built in Cairo.
Al-Azhar Mosque is the oldest integrated global university. It is one of the most important university mosques in Egypt and the most famous in the Islamic world. Its corridors have embraced millions of students and teachers throughout time, and it is considered the source of knowledge and Islamic moderation for all Muslims. Al-Azhar is now more than a thousand years old.
The cornerstone of Al-Azhar Mosque was laid on Ramadan 14, 359 AH - 970 AD. The mosque was built in the month of Ramadan in the year 361 AH - 972 AD. The construction of Al-Azhar began with an order from Jawhar al-Saqli on April 4, 970, after he was ordered to do so by the Fatimid Caliph al-Muizz Li Din Allah. Jawhar al-Saqli was the most important and famous leader in Fatimid history, as he was the founder of the city of Cairo.
It took two years to build Al-Azhar Mosque. It was named Al-Azhar Mosque, after the Lady Fatima al-Zahra, to whom the Fatimids are attributed. In the year 378 AH / 988 CE, Caliph Al-Aziz Billah made it a university to teach the esoteric sciences of Ismailism for scholars from Africa and Asia.
Al-Azhar Mosque spans over an area of 12,000 square meters. The mosque contains more than 380 columns of beautiful marble whose crowns were brought from ancient Egyptian temples. Al-Azhar was neglected during the rule of the Ayyubid Dynasty of Egypt, after Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi overthrew the Fatimids in 1171.
Salah al-Din was hostile towards the teachings that were put forward at Al-Azhar during the Fatimid Caliphate. Prayer at Al-Azhar was interrupted for nearly a century by Salah al-Din, who invalidated the sermon at Al-Azhar Mosque, which was a stronghold of the Ismaili Shiites.
On December 17, 1267, Friday prayers were held for the first time at Al-Azhar Mosque during the reign of Al-Zahir Baybars, Sultan of Egypt at the time.