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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

364                  The Contribution to Islam
made to private collections and to museums, architecture, with
its allied art of design and carving, may be studied extensively
in situ. The visitor to Egypt to-day, when he has made the tour
of the ancient monuments and the museums, will be foolish if
he does not capitulate to the importunity of his dragoman to
show him the Muslim monuments.
The history of the primitive beginnings of Muslim archi-
tecture concerns other countries than Egypt—Arabia itself,
where the first rude mosque was constructed, Syria, where
Christian churches were converted to the worship of Allah, and
Iraq, where the Caliphs, using Persian architects, built their
own sacred shrines. Nothing was erected worthy of notice in
Egypt during the first two centuries of Muslim domination. But
the coming of the Tulunids was a signal for the advent of more
spacious times. The Ibn Tulun mosque, still extant, was built
at the command of Ahmad ibn Tulun, founder of the dynasty:
coming from Samarra, he had his building designed on Bagdad
lines, decorated after the Samarra fashion. The present minaret
was not constructed until 1296.
The Fatimid period was an age of great architectural activity.
Reference has already been made to the foundation in 972 of
the Azhar mosque: though much altered in later times, its
original plan may still largely be traced; its transept is the
earliest example of this feature in Egypt, though the Great
Mosque at Damascus had already incorporated the device. The
mosque of al-Hakim, built between 990 and 1012, shows strong
Iraqi and Syrian influences.
Under Saladin the military defences of Cairo were con-
structed, the greater part of the walls, and the Citadel which
still overshadows the city. The same ruler introduced the
madrasa into Egypt, to house the theological schools: later, a
cruciform style was developed, convenient for accommodating
professors of the four different persuasions, a plan first evolved
in Egypt.