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March 27, 2017

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Sultan Farag ibn Barquq: The Mamluk Builder

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

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Sultan Barquq (1348 – 1386 AD) was originally a Circassian slave who was freed in 1363 AD. He ended the Bahri Mumluk era in 1382 and started his own dynasty of Circassian Mamluks.


The Khanqah and Mausoleum of Sultan Farag ibn Barquq was built by his son Sultan al-Nasir Farag in Cairo’s Northern cemetery to fulfill his father’s desire to be built near the tombs of the Sufis. A khanqah is the spiritual center providing a facility for Islah-e-Nafs (Self Correction). Following the traditions of the Ehl-e-Haq (Truth Bearers), Khanqah revives the rare traditions of Sulook, Tazkia, and Tassawuf while staying clear of all kinds of Bidda’hs (innovations or additions in religion) and complies strictly with the rules and boundaries prescribed by the Sharia. The Khanqah was commissioned in 1400 and was completed in 1411. It was built near the mausoleum of Anas, Sultan Barquq’s father. During these 11 years, Sultan Farag was dethroned twice and had to quell several uprisings in Syria. He was only 10 years old when he took the throne and was killed at the age of 23 in Syria.

The Khanqah itself has two minarets, twin mammoth domes, and twin sabil-kuttabs at either end of the mosque. A sabil is a public drinking fountain, and kuttab is a religious school. A sabil-kuttab is a structure that has the first floor reserved to be a public drinking fountain and the second floor to be a religious school. The architecture of the Khanqah resembled that of the late Bahri Mamluk architecture that carried on to the mid-Circassian Mamluk period. The outside domes are the largest and earliest Mamluk stone domes in Cairo, with a diameter of over 14 meters. Only the wooden dome of Imam Shafie barely exceeds their size. The mihrab and minbar are made of pure stone. There are two tomb areas one reserved for Sultan Barquq and the other reserved for his wife. Both tomb areas have massive domes with beautifully colored stained glass.

Sultan Farag ibn Barquq has built a Mosque and Madrasa complex in the coveted area of Bayn al-Qasrayn. The architect of the complex was Shihab al Din Ahmad ibn Muhammad al Tuluni. One of the inaugurators of the mosque was Jarkas al Khalili, the founder of Khan al-Khalili.

The interior of the mosque has one of the most decorated ceilings. The minarets were distinctly octagonal. The madrasa operated a Sufi program, which shows how well integrated Sufism is to the urban life of fifteenth century Egypt.


References

  • [1] Williams, Caroline, Islamic Monuments in Cairo: The Practical Guide, Cairo: American University in Cairo Press 2002.

  • Keywords: Cairo, Egypt, mosque, Barquq

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