The grand al-Azhar Mosque and Madrasah
Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On 7th of the Islamic month of Ramadhan in 361 AH, the grand al-Azhar Mosque and Madrasah was officially opened for prayer by Jowhar as-Saqali, the Sicilian general of the Fatemid Ismaili Shi'ite dynasty who completed the grand project three years after conquering Egypt and establishing the city of Cairo, as the new capital of the Empire that now stretched from the Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean."al-Azhar" is a derivative of "az-Zahra" (the Radiant), the famous epithet of Hazrat Fatema (SA) the daughter of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) in whose honour the mosque and the religious school were built.
The Fatemids restored the full form of the Azaan or call for the daily prayers, from the minarets of al-Azhar and other mosques, by bearing testimony to the imamate of Imam Ali (AS) after the Prophethood of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). The phrase "hayya ala khayr il-amal" (hasten to the best of deeds), which was dropped from the Azaan by the second caliph, was also revived. Exactly, a year later on this same date in 362 AH, the Fatemid caliph, al-Mu’iz le-Dinillah arrived in his new capital Cairo, from Mahdia in what is now Tunisia, the then capital of the Fatemid state.