The Word at Sultan Hassan

Cairo, Egypt

Inside the mausoleum at the Sultan Hassan Mosque, an imam discusses the Koran he holds (subject release available)
“The Word”Click here to share or send a greeting with this image.

Touring Egypt 17: The Sultan Hassan Mosque and Madrassa is rarely if ever unattended. A working house of God, the mosque is open to all; One can expect to find worshippers, clerics and teachers from the school within this historic temple. The fortunate visitor may find an imam who speaks some English, who might speak to the group about the history of the mosque and his religion. Tourists here will find hospitality, tolerance and welcome within these walls (though of course a donation is expected). This imam graciously allowed me to take his picture and gave a living demonstration of grace and experience by holding his discussion while ignoring the photographer throughout. (With proper application of an additional stipend, he also allowed a subject release to use the image.)

Built on a truly magnificent scale, the mosque is considered a masterpiece of Mamluk architecture and one of Egypt’s most stylistically unified religious monuments. It was constructed in the 1350’s as a worship and education facility for all four of Sunni Islam’s judicial branches and features a cavernous mausoleum originally intended for the Sultan (Hassan). However, the imam who joined us there (photo above) explained that the Sultan was never buried there. Instead, his two sons now rest interred there. I was drawn to the craftsmanship evident in the inlaid walls and carved screens, as well as the height of the lofty domed ceiling and massive decoration there as well. The mausoleum of the Sultan Hassan Mosque in old Cairo, Egypt.
“Imposing Peace”Share this image

The morning sun highlights in profile the juxtaposition of rising minarets and hanging lamps at the entrance of the Sultan Hassan Mosque in old Cairo, Egypt
“Light from Above”Share this image
As was mentioned in a previous post*, the mosque features hundreds of lamps suspended from chains throughout the high ceilings. Though most have now been converted to electric lights, I could not help but imagine how it must have looked in the past, when the whole of this massive space would have been illuminated by flickering oil lamps and candles. Throughout the facility I was struck by the veritable thickets of these lamps, issuing from every vaulted ceiling. As we left the temple, the sun backlit and emphasized the juxtaposition of the madrassa’s towering spires and the hanging lamps in the entrance of the mosque.

Thickets of lamps issue from the vaulted ceilings of the iwans within the Sultan Hassan Mosque in old Cairo, Egypt.
“Let There Be Light”Click here to share or send a greeting with this image.

* The Sultan Hassan Mosque is also featured in the post “Old Time Religion” from a couple of days ago. Its impressive minarets also dominate the Cairo skyline near the Citadel, so will be easily seen in views of the old Cairo skyline.

(Top [“The Word”]: Nikon D200, Nikkor wide-zoom at 24mm, ISO 400, f/4 at 1/15 sec. and exposure compensation of -4/3 to permit a faster shutter.)

(Upper middle [“Imposing Peace”]: Same camera, Nikkor wide-zoom at 12mm, ISO 250, f/4 at 1/20 sec., with same exposure compensation for the same reason.)

(Lower middle [“Light from Above”]: Same camera and lens at 20mm, ISO 250, f/22 at 1/250 sec. with circular polarizing filter to cut glare and increase contrast.)

(Bottom [“Let There Be Light”]: Same camera and lens at 22mm, ISO 250, f/4 at 1/125 sec, with -4/3 exposure compensation.)