The Fatimid Mosque

The Fatimid Mosque

The Fatimid mosque in Saint Catherine’s Monastery, built in 500 AH/1106 AD during the reign of the Fatimid Caliph al-Amir bi-Ahkam Allah, was the fruit of the harmonious relationship between Muslims and Christians. The Fatimid Caliphate witnessed the peak of this relationship, and the caliphs of the period worked tirelessly to build mosques in sacred locations. The Fatimid mosque in Saint Catherine’s Monastery became a stop for pilgrims on their way to Mecca, many of whose writings can still be seen on its mihrab to this day.

            The mosque lies in the north-western sector of Saint Catherine’s Monastery, opposite the Church of the Transfiguration of Christ the Savior, its principal church, such that its minaret stands side-by-side with the church’s steeple, in a perfect symbol of religious harmony. The mosque features several semi-circular vaults and three mihrabs. The mihrab is a semi-circular recess in the wall of a given mosque that indicates the qibla, the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca, which Muslims face during prayer. The principal mihrab is similar in its design to the one in the oldest section of al-Azhar mosque, and has a beautiful minbar, or pulpit, one of only three complete surviving examples from the Fatimid Period.

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