Al-Juyushi is a little mosque that sits on the Muqattain hill. Below the mosque are the city buildings and the city cemetery. The name of this mosque emanates from its founder who is known as Amir Al-Juyushi (Behrens-Abouseif, 1989). Amir was an Armenian who headed the Caliph known as Al-Mustansir (1036 CE- 1094 CE). This mosque is a shrine, and in its entrance, some writings refer to it as Mashhad (Petersen, 2002). However, the inscriptions do not allude to any person as far as the commemoration of the mosque is concerned.
There are many perceptions of this mosque. Grabar, for instance, perceives this mosque as a sign of victory by Badr Al-Jamali when he overcame rebellions that marred the Fatimid Empire. However, others like Farid Shafii believe that this mosque was erected to serve as a watchtower but not for religious purposes (Behrens-Abouseif, 1989). On the northern part of the mosque, there is a tiny domed chamber that leads many to refer to this mosque as a mausoleum. Since this mosque is not the site where Badr Al-Jamali got buried as revealed by Maqrizi, there are high chances that this mosque is not a mausoleum. However, there is a site believed to be the burial place for Badr- Al-Jamali, which is a street known as Shaykh Najm. This site is called the Chapel of Shykh Badr (Behrens-Abouseif, 1989).
There were numerous shrines during the Fatimid Period, which no longer exist. However, the Mashhad has withstood the test of time since not many religious activities took place in it. As a result, there were no significant embellishments that often come with cult-like practices, which often weaken a foundation of any structure over time. Dervishes used the Mashhad for religious traditions during the existence of the Ottoman Empire (Behrens-Abouseif, 1989).
The Mashhad mosque lies around a castle. At the entrance of this mosque, there is a plain door that ushers people into the area of prayer, which is below the minaret. Several small rooms are on the lateral sides of the minaret. On the front part of the Mashhad, various designs lefttophighlight the architecture of Fatimid (Behrens-Abouseif, 1989). For instance, one can see four columns supported by smaller arches just at the front of the mosque. The arrangement makes a tripartite shape when viewed from any angle. Cross-Vaults were used to make the roof part, which majorly covers the area of prayer. However, additional plain squinches crown the dome erected above the prayer niche. Even though Cresswell argues that a small room that lies on the North Eastern side was an addition to the main mosque, Farid Shafii insists that the structure has not changed since its original design.
Stucco carvings, which were majorly used during the Ottoman Empire, were used to decorate this mosque, especially around the prayer niche. Cresswell compares the stuccoes of this shrine to the Persian shrines (O'Kane, 2016). Besides, a comparison of the prayer niches of the mosque of Ibn Tulun to the Persian mosques reveals a similarity. The minaret of the Mashhad can be compared to the minaret at a mosque located in Tunisia known as Qayrawan. This mosque has a stalactite cornice that lies on its rectangular shaft.
Stalactites, which are also known as Muqarnas, are carvings that resemble honeycombs. They are majorly placed on the upper parts of the mosques. They were common in the medieval Islamic world but unpopular among non-Muslims. No one knows when and where the Murqanas were first used. However, archeologists claim that East Iran could be the place of origin of this architectural works of Murqanas (Golombek & Subtelny, 1992). On the Southeastern part of the leftcenterMashhad are two kiosks that are dome-shaped. According to Farid Shafii, the kiosks offered a leeway to watch over enemies. By contrast, Rajib and Grabar argue against Farid Shafii by stating that the presence of minarets on the Mashhad, which were common among Islamic shrines, implies that the Al-Juyushi mosque was primarily for religious purposes. Some people view this mosque to be strategically placed for astronomical works.
The Mashhad of Al-Juyushi lies in the Fatimid Architecture, which was popular between 909 CE and 1167 CE. The Fatimid Caliphate was the power behind this architecture that took place in the northern parts of Africa. The designs were a combination of aspects of the Western and Eastern cultures. The Fatimid architecture went against the rules that characterized the early Islamic architecture, for instance, the Egyptian Mamluks, by introducing many innovations and designs on the Islamic architecture (Behrens-Abouseif, 1989). The Fatimid architecture was prevalent in Islamic cities like Cairo, Mahdia, and Al-Mansuriya, among other cities. The top-notch Fatimid architecture is attributable to the cutthroat competition from the Byzantine and Abbasid empires, which were keen to overtake the Fatimid empire architecture. To overcome competition, the Fatimid caliphs went to the extent of adding designs from Mesopotamia, where they obtained the squinch and the keel arches.
Today, Egypt has three gates, which were erected during the Fatimid era. These gates are the Bab Zuweila that was built in 1092 CE; the Bab al-Nasr constructed in the year 1087 CE; and Bab al-Futuh erected in 1087 CE (Necipoglu, 2002). From the above revelations about Fatimid architecture, there is no doubt that they were characterized by stability and beauty. The fact that some buildings (including the Mashhad Al-Juyushi Mosque) could exist to date, there is no doubt that the architecture applied is laudable.
Behrens-Abouseif, D. (1989). Islamic Architecture in Cairo: An Introduction. Cairo: Amer University in Cairo Press.
Golombek, L., & Subtelny, M. (1992). Timurid Art and Culture: Iran and Central Asia in the Fifteenth Century. Leiden: Brill Academic Pub.
Necipoglu, G. (2002). Muqarnas: An Annual on the Visual Culture of the Islamic World. Leiden, Netherlands: BRILL.
O'Kane, B. (2016). The Mosques of Egypt. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press.
Petersen, A. (2002). Dictionary of Islamic Architecture. London, England: Routledge.
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