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Al-Mursi Abu Al-Abbas Mosque

Al-Mursi Abu Al-Abbas Biography

Al-Mursi Abu Al-Abbas Mosque is a modern style mosque in Al Anfushi neighbourhood in the city of Alexandria. Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi (whose full name is much longer) was born to a wealthy family in the Andalusia region of Spain in 1219. In the wake of increasing Christian control of Spain, he and his family left for Tunisia in 1242. He later went on to Alexandria, a popular destination for many Muslim scholars at the time.

Abu al-Abbas lived in Alexandria for 43 years as a scholar and teacher until his death in 1286. He was buried in a small building near the eastern harbour in Alexandria. In 1307, El Sheikh Zein El-Din Ibn El Qattan, one of the richest traders of Alexandria, visited the tomb. He funded a mausoleum and a dome for the tomb, along with a small mosque.

The tomb of Abu al-Abbas became a place of pilgrimage for many Muslims from Egypt and Morocco who passed through Alexandria on their way to and from Mecca. The mosque was periodically restored over the centuries by rulers who built themselves tombs next to the saint.

Most of the present structure dates from 1775 when the Algerian Sheikh Abu El Hassan El Maghraby built a much larger mosque on the site. It was fully renovated in 1863, and an annual festival was established to celebrate the birth of Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi.

The mosque was again beautified in 1943 under King Farouq I (r.1937-1952), who built the Midan El-Masged, or “Mosque Square.” The square covers some 43,200 square meters and includes five other mosques centred around the Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque. The mosque was renovated in the Arabian style that was popular when the saint came to Alexandria in the 13th century, at a total cost of about 140,000 LE.

What to See at the Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque

The cream-coloured Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque stands 23m high and dressed in artificial stone, with a minaret on the southern side rising to 73 m. Situated near the shore of the eastern harbour, the mosque, and its neighbours can be clearly seen from the sea. The minaret has an Ayoubids design, with four sections of different shapes. 

The mosque has an entrance on the north and one on the east, both of which overlook the square. The main part of the mosque is an octagon, with internal walls are dressed in artificial stone except for a 5.6 m-high mosaic.