Mosque of Al-Hakim
About Mosque of Al-Hakim
You remember the sixth Fatimid ruler of Egypt? His name is Al-Hakim, and he is famous for taking the throne while still a child. The “Little Lizard” assumed throne at the age of 11 and ruled for the following 23 years. Known for his frightening looks and manners, the reign of Al-Hakim was notorious for violence and crises: cases more severe than what the court could settle. These trends and more were probably the reasons modern historians suggested that Al-Hakim was insane during his rule.
He killed the tutor credited with the invention and conferment of his sobriquet – Little Lizard – alongside several others involved. He would parade the streets in disguise on a donkey, and once he caught a dishonest merchant, he will have them dealt with by his notorious black servant. His death? He went on one of these private trips, particularly towards the Muqattam Hills, and he never returned. However, more disturbing is the fact that his body was never found.
Although the Mosque of Al-Hakim has been around since 1013 and ranked as one of the older mosques in Cairo, it never served its intended purpose – worship. Rather, it is used as a Crusaders’ prison, a stable, a warehouse, a boys’ school and, a mental hospital, perhaps in line with the nature of its founder.
In the 1980s, an Ismaili Shiite group restored the mosque, giving it an open-plan square and spare decoration. Perhaps, the highest point of attraction is the two stone minarets, with the two masterpieces considered the earliest surviving minarets in the city.