This week, and for the first time since its restoration in 2002, the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) opened the Ibn Tulun Mosque in Sayeda Zeinab district for worshipers at night in Ramadan.
Mohsen Sayed Ali, general secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), told Ahram Online that the mosque was opened this Ramadan after frequent requests from Sayeda Zeinab inhabitants and after resolving problems technicians and archaeologists were facing in lighting the vast area of the mosque.
This week the mosque courtyard and prayer hall were lit and welcomed worshipers to pray the Ramadan Taraweeh prayer.
The Ibn Tulun Mosque is the second oldest and most important mosque to be built during the Islamic era after Amr Ibn Al-Aas Mosque.
It was built by Ahmed Ibn Tulun, the Abbasside governor of Egypt form 868AD to 884AD, on a hill known as Gabal Yashkur in the Al-Qatai capital city of Egypt during the Abbasside era at a cost of 120,000 gold dinars.
The historian Al-Maqrizi lists the mosque's construction starting date as 876AD. The mosque's original inscription slab identifies the date of completion as 265AH (Anno Hegirae) or 879AD.
Gabal Yashkur hill protected the mosque from natural disasters such as floods. “It is the only mosque, not only in Egypt but in the whole world, to keep his original architectural features and decorative structure across the span of history,” asserted Ali. He added: “No addition or expansion has been made to the mosque since its construction until now.”
The blocks that make up its walls are fire-resistant and the mortar that gives them coherence has been strong enough to absorb the shocks dealt by earthquakes and the permanent tremors caused by heavy vehicles passing through neighbouring streets.
The mosque is a vast and imposing structure, built around a courtyard. Because of its vast area and the absence of modern means of sound amplification at the time of construction, the mosque has three places for mobalegh (those who repeat the Imam’s words during prayers). Its minaret is spiral shaped with stairs on the outside, similar to the Great Mosque of Samarra in Iraq.