The mosque of Ibn Tulun was commissioned by Ahmad Ibn Tulun (254–270 AH/868–884 AD), ‘Abbasid governor of Egypt, who in 266 AH\ 872 AD ruled Egypt as an independent state.
Construction began in 263 AH/876 AD, and finished in 265 AH/879 AD. Located on Jebal Yashkur (in modern-day Ahmad Ibn Tulun Square, Sayyida Zaynab), the mosque was meant to serve as the main congregational mosque of Ibn Tulun’s new administrative capital, al-Qata’i. The building of this mosque was a further step in asserting Ahmad Ibn Tulun’s independence from the ʿAbbasid Caliphate.
The mosque is distinguished by its spiral minaret, which echoes the designs of the al-Abbas mosque in Samarra, Iraq. The arches and the windows of the mosque’s courtyard contain stucco designs of geometric and floral designs. A water fountain is positioned in the center of the courtyard, surmounted by a dome supported on marble columns. The interior of the mosque contains six mihrabs. The mihrab is a niche in the wall of a mosque that marks the qibla, the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca, which Muslims face during prayer. The main mihrab is hollow and elaborately decorated.