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Mausoleum of Imam El-Shafey

The Mausoleum of Imam El-Shafey lies 600 meters away from a square that carries his name, on the right side of the façade of El-Imam El-Shafey Mosque. The tomb of Sayyid Muhammad Abd El-Hakam and the cenotaph of Sultan El-Kamil Ayyub and his mother also can be seen near by this mausoleum. This tomb is considered as one of the largest mortuary chambers in Egypt and is still visited by a large number of people till now whether Egyptian or non Egyptian due to its historical and religious significance. The mausoleum was built in the late Ayyubid period by El Kamil Mohamed Ibn El Adel, the nephew of Salah El-Deen El-Ayyuby. El Imam El Shafey is the one who initiated the Shafey Mazhab, one of the main four rites of Sunni Islam. After coming to Egypt in the 9th century, he died in 820 and was buried in this mausoleum. The decoration of the mausoleum is regarded as a good example for the Fatimid style of decoration. The outer walls of the tomb are ornamented with graceful step crenellations with beautiful strpwork frieze and blind arches with ribbed hoods and between the arched panels of the mausoleum appear handsome rosettes and lozenges. The dome of this mausoleum is distinguished by its large size and the wooden shell covered with lead that marvelously decorates it. The present dome traces back to 1772 and it is supplied with a place for putting grain for birds. The coffered ceiling of the corridor that ends with the carved door is one of the most distinguishing features of the entrance of this tomb on the north wall. From inside, the tomb is gracefully colored and is supplied with some wooden beams and brackets for holding the lamps for illumination that were newly used in Cairo at this period. EL-Imam El-Shafey is buried in a marvelous cenotaph that dates from 1178 and is still regarded as one of the best Islamic woodworks. In front of this cenotaph stands a beautiful latticework screen that date back to the days of Khedive Abbas II who gifted it to the tomb. In the Ayyubid period a charming marble column was added in the direction of the Qibla to which the head of the Imam is directed. In the 15th century, the cenotaph was renovated by Sultan Qaytbay who supplied it with marble panels and rebuilt the dome of the tomb inserting some stalactite niches to it. In the 18th century, Abd El-Rahman Katkhuda restored the tomb again adding some Quran inscriptions and decorated the entrance with some polychrome inlay and added beautiful vestiges to the dome and the squinches. He added also a small Mihrab directed correctly to the direction of the Mecca unlike the triple- arched Mihrab.

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