Egyption History & Travel - 2010

Although we did not visit the inside of the mosque of Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad ibn Qala'un the green dome of was a wonderful sight on its own. The view of the capital city below the Citadel in grand.

Since Muslims are required to pray 5 times daily and many choose to do so in the mosques, there is always activity around these houses of worship. There is a traditional architectural pattern for mosques, though there are many levels of opulence. There is always an outer courtyard where the purification obligation can be performed before entering the mosque. This means there are fountains, water taps, or a well, since washing of feet, hands and face is required. The mosque inside is oriented towards Mecca so that the members are facing that city when they kneel for prayer. There are no decorations, no icons, nor statues in mosques, due to Mohamed's dictum against representation of living things. The words “There is no god but Allah and Mohamed is his Prophet” are written in gold Arabic letters in many mosques but that is the only decoration. However, the mosques are often quite beautiful with colored tiles, usually in blue, domes soaring above the prayer floor, colorful prayer rugs, gold or gold-painted pulpits, columns of marble or granite or other colorful stones for roof support. Minarets (the towers from which the calls to prayer are issued) are fanciful and reflect the country from which their style originates. The minaret is formed of a base, a pillar, and a conical or onion-shaped dome surmounted by a decoration consisting of from 3 to 5 balls separated by narrow shafts. These symbolize the five pillars of Islam: 5 prayers daily, a once in a lifetime visit to Mecca, regular alms-giving to the poor, fasting during


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