An Overall View About the History of the Mosque
Al-Rifa’i Mosque is believed to be the most remarkable Islamic structure in Cairo. It is located in the Qala’a facing the great Al Sultan Hassan Mosque. The mother of Khedive Ismail “Khoshiar” embellished the mosque to be the grand mausoleum of the royal family. She wanted to build a mosque that lives forever and keep its greatness through its shape & size. She also wanted to renew the Zawiya of the mosque so she completely destroyed the Zawiya and started to build this new grandiose mosque.
The mosque is named after Sheikh Ahmed Al Refaie, who was the Sufi leader of the Al Refaieya method. Hussein Fahmy Pasha was the one who built this mosque and designed it to contain tombs inside of the members of the royal family in addition to adding two domes for the two Sheikhs Ali Abu Shebak and Yehia Al Ansary.
The construction work stopped for a while in 1881 to make some changes and then with the death of Khoshiar Hanem in 1885, the construction completely stopped. After twenty-five years, Abbas Helmy II became the Egyptian ruler and ordered to continue the construction of the mosque. Finally, the mosque was opened to the public in February in 1912.
The Description of the Mosque
The mosque has columns made of rock and marble adorned with rich Arabic decorations. On the western side of the mosque, there is the main gate and at its top. There is a huge dome decorated with gold. When you enter the mosque, you’ll find a door that leads to the tombs of Ali Abu Shebak and Yehia Al Ansary. The walls of the mosque are decorated with very beautiful marbles. Abanos wood and radiant golden ornaments decorate most of the doors, walls, and windows of the mosque.
Inside its eastern walls, there is the mihrab that is decorated with colored marble. The Minbar is located right beside the mihrab decorated with ivory, ebony, and mother of pearl. This minbar has a unique style that was designed with the Mamluk way. The pure white alabaster Dekka is the most remarkable part of this mosque. Its style & decorations make the mosque one of its kind. This Dekka contains some stunning Quran inscriptions, written in pure gold and it was built on eight white marble columns.
The Northern side of the mosque contains six gates and four of these gates lead to the burial tombs of the kings & queens of the royal family. The west side contains a room, where Khedive Ismail and his mother were buried.
The Usage of the Mosque
The final resting place of Khushyar Hanim and her son Isma’il Pasha. It was also intended to be the resting place of Khedive Tewfik and Khedive Abbas Hilmi II but they are buried in Qubbat Afandina.
It served as the burial site of Sultan Hussein Kamel, Sultan, and King Fuad I, and King Farouk.
The resting place of Reza Shah of Iran. He died in exile in the Union of South Africa in 1944
Part of the burial chamber is currently occupied by Reza Shah’s son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who died in Cairo in July 1980.
You can visit the mosque during your Egypt tour packages with a professional Egyptologist tour guide to witness the most famous Islamic and Coptic landmarks during your trips.