VIDEO: Thousands of Egyptians celebrate Al-Hussein Moulid despite political unrest

Randa Ali , Thursday 14 Mar 2013

In the heart of Islamic Cairo, thousands of Egyptians at Al-Hussein district celebrate the birth of the grandson of Prophet Mohamed

Thousands gathered at the Al-Hussein Mosque in Islamic Cairo on Tuesday to celebrate the birth of Al-Hussein, Prophet Mohamed's grandson.

The Al-Hussein Mosque in Cairo is believed to be one of the most sacred Islamic monuments.

In spite of the unwelcomed quietness that have overtaken the district of Al-Hussein for the past two years as a result of the deterioration of tourism, thousands remained loyal to the hundred-year-old annual tradition of visiting the sacred spot to celebrate the birth of the ‘beloved’ Al-Hussein.

"People arrived from across the country – Upper Egypt, Qena, Menoufiya – to celebrate the birth of his holiness Al-Hussein," Nasser Soliman a souvenirs vendor told Ahram Online.

It is widely believed that the head of Al-Hussein is stored in a mausoleum at the mosque since 549 AH (1154 AD), following his death at the hands of the Caliph Yazid of Damascus in one of the most brutal battles, Battle of Kerbala, in the history of Islam.

Soliman, who has been working at Al-Hussein for over fifty years, spoke with enthusiasm as the night was just getting started. He told Ahram Online that the celebrations have been ongoing for days. However, Tuesday was the "Big Night."

"There was Zhikr [an Islamic ritual devoted for the remembrance of God], the praising of the prophet, and food for the poor," added Soliman.

Later at night, son of Sheikh Yassin Al-Tohamy performed as well, added Soliman.

Sheikh Yassin himself, a renowned Sufi chanter from Upper Egypt, performed on the final night on Wednesday.

"He [Sheikh Yassin] is the love of Upper Egyptians. He is their Halim," said Soliman, referring to Egyptian musical icon Abdel Halim Hafiz.

From one alley to another, different rituals took place around the vicinity of the mosque. Quranic verses, drums beating, dancing and religious chanting all decorated the colourful neighbourhood.

"We come from Aswan every year to feed the people and pray together," Abou Ahmed told Ahram Online, as he applauded among many others for his fellow friends who sang for Al-Hussein and the prophet over folklore music of Aswan.

"We cook and feed the poor because Morsi has starved the people," one man jokingly said.

In spite of the festive atmosphere, things have severely changed after the January 25 Revolution, a female vendor Iman Abdullah told Ahram Online.

"Before the revolution, a day in Al-Moulid brought us thousands of pounds. Today is the big night and we hardly earned LE300," complained Abdullah, adding that even the people who came all the way to Cairo to attend Al-Moulid are mainly there with their families for the free food more than to celebrate.

She went on to say that even the service providers are offering way less than before."They can’t afford to serve the food they used to serve few years ago," said Abdullah.

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