The most important historic mosque in Alexandria, Egypt, as well as a very beautiful one, is Abu El Abbas El Mursi Mosque. Constructed in 1775, it was built over the tomb dates back to the 13th century. It is located in the Anfoushi neighborhood of Alexandria, near the Citadel of Qaitbay.
It is popular for its unique domes and Islamic architecture, attracting tourists from all over the world.
His complete name is Shahab al-Din Abu El Abbas Ahmad ibn Umar ibn Mohammad al-Ansari el-Mursi (Sufi saint).
Shahab was born in Andalusia in Spain in 1219 AD. He was the son of a very wealthy family, and was therefore able to receive a good education. Aside from his education, he grew up helping his parents with their trading business.
He left Spain with his family in 640 H (1242 CE) in the face of increasing Christian control over Spain. Their intention was to settle in Tunisia, but his mother and father never made it that far. It was then that Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi was noticed by a sheikh by the name of El-Shazly who persuaded Abu al-Abbas to accompany him to Alexandria.
He lived 43 years in Alexandria as Muslim teacher and taught until his death in 1286 A.D. He was buried in a tomb on the site where the Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque stands today.
In 1307, El Sheikh Zein El Din, one of the richest traders of Alexandria, visited the tomb. He funded a mausoleum and dome for the tomb, along with a small mosque.
It was by rulers who built themselves tombs next to the saint. Moreover, most of the present structure dates back to 1775. It was when the Algerian Sheikh Abu el Hassan El Maghreby built a much larger mosque on the site. Mosque restored over the centuries.
It dressed in artificial stone, with a minaret on the southern side with four sections of different shapes.
The white marble façade of the Masjid Mursi Abu El-Abbas is famous for its intricate masonry. It’s best known feature are the highly unusually shaped domes which form a great cluster on the roof.
Dome of Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque with stone arches from the sides and carved wooden decor in the middle.
The mosque has two main entrances on the north and one on the east.
Inside the mosque:
The ceiling is supported by sixteen columns made of Italian granite and decorated with arabesque.
It contains a great octagonal skylight known as a Shokhsheikha. Each side of the skylight has three windows of colored glass in arabesque designs. This skylight surrounded by four domes, placed over the four mausoleums within the complex. The floors paved in white marble.
The minbar (pulpit) capped by a dome and has verses from the Qur’an written at the top in French gold.
The mihrab is niche indicating the direction of Mecca. In fact, it stands at the base of the mosque’s minaret. On other side of the mihrab are two columns of Egyptian granite.
It is a beautiful monument that stands as a lasting memory to Alexandria’s most beloved Muslim saint.