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HART 322 Presentation - Al-Azhar Mosque and University

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Shirin Lakhani

on 2 December 2012

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Transcript of HART 322 Presentation - Al-Azhar Mosque and University

Al-Azhar University
and Mosque Thesis: As with many royally endowed monuments of the past, the survival of the architectural piece throughout the centuries necessitates a change in its artistic program for various religious, political, and economic reasons as time goes on. The Fatimid mosque and university complex, al-Azhar, is a monument whose history unfolds the progression of Cairo from the capital of a religious dynasty to the center of Mamluk military expansions, to capital of the Ottoman empire, and finally a modern-day metropolitan city. Timeline: Reconstructions and Additions to the al-Azhar Complex 12th Century The Fatimid Empire: In January of 910, the Ismaili Imam and caliph al-Mahdi replaced the existing Aghlabid (dynastic emirs ruling on behalf of the Abbasid caliph) empire with that of the Fatimid Ismailis. Who were the Ismailis? Shi'a Muslims who believe in the rightful succession of spiritual and worldly authority through Ali b. Abi Talib, the nephew and son-in-law of the Prophet and the husband of his daughter Fatima, from whom the dynasty appropriates its name. Residing in secrecy due to political and religious oppression until now, the Ismailis resurrect as a powerful Muslim dynasty in North Africa. It was during the reign of the fourth Fatimid caliph, al-Mu'izz, that the empire experienced the most growth. Cairo: Jawhar al-Siqilli captured Egypt in 971 on behalf of the Fatimid caliph and began the construction of the new city of al-Mansuriyya (named after the third Fatimid caliph al-Mansur), gave it a northern gate (al-Futuh) and southern gate (al-Zawayla), and a Friday congregational mosque named al-Azhar. The creation of the new mosque was a relief to the Sunnis in Fustat, where the Shi'i call to prayer had just been instated. When the Imam entered the new capital in 973, it was renamed to al-Qahira al-Mu'izziyya, "The City of al-Mu'izz's Victory", now simply Cairo. Al-Azhar During the Fatimids: Originally known as the Mosque of Cairo, al-Azhar was the religious center of the Fatimid capital, but not the nucleus of the city. Now adorned with numerous reconstructions and additions, al-Azhar most probably resembled "a simple rectangle composed of the five-aisled prayer hall bordered on the northwest by a rectangular court (sahn), which was framed by porticoes on at least the two lateral signs." Other Topics to Include and Questions to Consider: - the naming of the mosque
- When exactly did al-Azhar become a globally known center for Islamic teaching?
- If it did not gain its international claim to fame until the mid-thirteenth century, what kept it alive after the end of the Fatimid empire? Its seemingly impartial treatment of all Islamic schools of thought as pedagogical subjects. Was this strategy?
- al-Azhar across empires
-changes in Cairene law in regards to al-Azhar (appointment of teachers, secularization, etc.)
- Counterarguments to significance of al-Azhar. Al-Azhar Today: -the elementary and secondary schools have been branched out into 22 religious institutes and 17 free schools sponsored by al-Azhar
-the schools of study have been divided into 3:
-the College of the Arabic Language (liberal arts)
-the College of the Shari'ah al-Islamiyah (modern law school)
-the College of Usul al-Din (theology)
-campus layout includes academic quads, assembly hall, library, dorms, clinic for students, athletic fields, swimming pools, modern administrative offices
-dependent on government funding
-teachers sent abroad to obtain PhDs
-380 preachers of the Islamic da'wa throughout Egypt 13th Century -1131-49 caliph al-Hafiz li-Din Allah commissions keel-shaped arches and arcades
-1171 end of Fatimid empire; al-Azhar loses significance under reign of Saladin -mid-13th century Mamluk revival of al-Azhar begins 14th Century -1303 earthquake and Mamluk rebuilding begins
-1339 minaret and dome of Madrasa al-Aqbaghawiyya 15th Century -1495 minaret of Qaytbay 16th Century -1509 double-finial minaret of Qansuh al-Ghuri
-1517 al-Azhar loses importance under Sultan Selim I
-1588 mausoleum of Sitt Nafisa al-Bakriyya
-al-Azhar becomes 5th holiest Muslim site 18th Century -major rebuilding by 'Abd al-Rahman Katkhuda: doubled size, added dorms, minarets, gateways, and his own tomb 19th Century -1871 Jamal al-Din al-Afghani reformed mosque-college into modern institution 20th Century -Al-Azhar recognized as a true university
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