PM Modi’s two-day Egypt tour begins today, to visit centuries-old Al-Hakim Mosque

PM Modi’s two-day Egypt tour begins today, to visit centuries-old Al-Hakim Mosque

PM Modi's two-day Egypt tour begins today
Image Source : PTI PM Modi’s two-day Egypt tour begins today

PM Modi Egypt visit: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting Egypt, in the second leg of his two-nation tour, from June 24 to 25. The visit is at the invitation of President of Egypt Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, which he extended to the Prime Minister in January 2023 when he graced our Republic Day celebrations as the ‘Chief Guest’. This will be Prime Minister’s first visit to Egypt.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs, apart from his talks with President Sisi, Prime Minister is likely to interact with senior dignitaries from the Egyptian Government, some prominent Egyptian personalities, as well as the Indian community in Egypt. 

The relations between India and Egypt are based on ancient trade and economic linkages as well as cultural and deep-rooted people-to-people ties. During the State Visit of President Sisi in January 2023, it was agreed to elevate the relationship to a ‘Strategic Partnership’.

PM Modi to visit historic Al-Hakim Mosque

During the two-day tour, PM Modi will visit the historic Al-Hakim Mosque built during the Fatimid dynasty in Cairo on June 24. PM Modi’s visit to the mosque is scheduled as the first event on the last day of his two-day programme in Egypt’s sprawling capital Cairo. The Prime Minister will spend around half an hour at the Al-Hakim Mosque.

About Al-Hakim Mosque

The monument is a historic and prominent mosque in Cairo named after Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah (985-1021), the 16th Fatimid caliph. The mosque was originally built by Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah’s father, Caliph Al-‘Aziz Billah, towards the end of the 10th century, in the year 990, and was later completed by Al-Hakim in the year 1013.

The mosque is also known as Al-Anwar, meaning “the Illuminated”, similar in style to the name of the earlier Al-Azhar Mosque founded by the Fatimids. It is the second-largest mosque in the city of Cairo, and the fourth oldest. The mosque is located in the heart of Islamic Cairo, on the east side of al-Mu’izz Street, just south of Bab al-Futuh (one of the northern city gates of Fatimid Cairo).

Al-Hakim Mosque is example of Fatimid architecture 

The Al-Hakim Mosque is a significant example of Fatimid architecture and history in Cairo. The rectangular mosque covers an area of 13,560-metre square out of which 5000 square metres is the large courtyard or sahn at the centre. The remaining space is divided into four covered halls, one on each side of the mosque. The Bayt al salat, or sanctuary area and prayer hall, is the largest of these, measuring 4,000 square metres and having five bays.

The mosque has two distinctive minarets on its north and west corners. Al-Hakim himself modified these minarets in 1010 by enclosing them in a square salient around them. They are the city’s oldest still standing minarets.  The mosque holds the distinction of being the oldest mosque in the world with two minarets built simultaneously when it was first built.

The mosque has eleven gates, of which the most important is the central one on the main facade, made of stone. The gate has a prominent portico with carved niches and squares on its tip, similar to the Mahdiyah Mosque in Tunisia. The mosque also has pointed arches supported by rectangular columns in the courtyard and the prayer hall, reminiscent of the Ibn Tulun Mosque in Cairo.

 Important cultural site for the Dawoodi Bohra community

The mosque of al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah is an important cultural site for the Dawoodi Bohra community in Cairo. The latest renovation project was the second such initiative undertaken by the Dawoodi Bohra community after the first renovation and restoration project that was completed nearly forty years ago.

The renovations were undertaken as part of a large-scale plan by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities to boost tourism to Cairo’s Islamic sites. The work was co-funded by the Dawoodi Bohra community.

Work on the mosque began in 2017 and included repairs to water damage and cracks in the walls. Wooden fixtures, including the mosque’s doors, its pulpit and the signature decorative wooden tiles that line the base of its ceilings, were bolstered.

The ornate chandeliers of the mosque, one of Cairo’s most prominent Fatimid sites, were also restored. Security cameras were installed as well as more efficient electrical wiring to service both the indoor areas and the large courtyard that the mosque is known for. Intricate restorations were also undertaken on the mosque’s facades and marble floors.

The al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah Mosque, a nearly 1000-year-old structure in the heart of the Egyptian capital of Cairo, was reopened on the 27th of February this year following extensive renovations that took six years to complete.

(With ANI inputs)

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Author: Shirley