Al Azhar Mosque

The Ultimate 2024 Guide to Al Azhar Mosque


Did you know that Al Azhar Mosque, founded in 970 AD, is not only one of the oldest mosques in Cairo but also one of the oldest universities in the world? Its name, "Al Azhar," is derived from "Al-Zahra," a title of Fatimah, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, reflecting its historical and spiritual significance. The mosque has been a center for Islamic scholarship for over a millennium, attracting students from all over the globe to study various disciplines.

Al Azhar Mosque, one of the most significant and historic mosques in the world. This guide will take you through every aspect of Al Azhar Mosque, from its rich history and architectural marvels to its role in Islamic education and culture. 

Al Azhar Mosque History


Historical view of Al Azhar Mosque.
Historical view of Al Azhar Mosque, showcasing its rich history and architectural beauty.


Al Azhar Mosque, also known as Al Azhar Masjid, was established in 970 AD by the Fatimid Caliph Al-Mu'izz li-Din Allah. Over the centuries, it has become a beacon of Islamic learning and culture. The mosque has witnessed numerous historical events and has been a center for religious and educational activities.

  • Key Milestones:
    • 970 AD: Establishment by Al-Mu'izz li-Din Allah
    • 988 AD: Became a center for Islamic learning
    • Various renovations and expansions through the centuries

Architectural Marvels of Al Azhar Mosque

Al Azhar Mosque is an architectural gem, blending various styles from different Islamic periods. The mosque features intricate decorations, majestic minarets, and a vast courtyard. Its design reflects the evolution of Islamic architecture.

  • Key Features:
    • Minarets: Five minarets, each with unique designs
    • Courtyard: Spacious and beautifully decorated
    • Interiors: Elaborate calligraphy and geometric patterns

Al Azhar Mosque and University

Al Azhar Mosque is not just a place of worship; it is also home to Al Azhar University, one of the oldest and most prestigious Islamic universities in the world. The university has been a center for Islamic scholarship for over a thousand years.

  • Key Facts:
    • Founded in 988 AD
    • Offers a wide range of Islamic and modern subjects
    • Hosts students from around the world

Al Azhar Mosque Design and Architecture

The design of Al Azhar Mosque is a blend of various Islamic architectural styles. The mosque features a large prayer hall, multiple domes, and a beautiful mihrab (prayer niche). The use of geometric patterns and calligraphy adds to its visual appeal.

  • Design Highlights:
    • Prayer Hall: Spacious with a high ceiling
    • Domes: Multiple domes with intricate designs
    • Mihrab: Beautifully decorated with calligraphy and mosaics

Al Azhar Mosque Plan

The layout of Al Azhar Mosque is carefully planned to accommodate large numbers of worshippers and students. The mosque includes prayer areas, lecture halls, and administrative offices.

  • Key Areas:
    • Main Prayer Hall: Central area for prayers
    • Lecture Halls: Rooms for teaching and discussions
    • Offices: Administrative and faculty offices

Al Azhar Mosque Timetable and Activities

Al Azhar Mosque is a hub of religious and educational activities. The mosque's timetable includes daily prayers, lectures, and special events. It plays a vital role in the spiritual and educational lives of the community.

  • Timetable Highlights:
    • Daily Prayers: Five times a day
    • Lectures: Regular lectures on Islamic subjects
    • Special Events: Celebrations of Islamic festivals and academic events


Al Azhar Mosque stands as a testament to the rich history and vibrant culture of the Islamic world. Its architectural beauty, educational significance, and spiritual importance make it a must-visit landmark. Whether you’re interested in history, architecture, or religion, Al Azhar Mosque offers a fascinating glimpse into the Islamic heritage.


Key Takeaways

  • Historical Significance: Established in 970 AD, Al Azhar Mosque has a rich history.
  • Architectural Marvel: Features various Islamic architectural styles.
  • Educational Hub: Home to Al Azhar University, one of the oldest Islamic universities.
  • Cultural Importance: A center for religious and cultural activities.

By understanding the history, architecture, and educational role of Al Azhar Mosque, you can appreciate its importance in the Islamic world. Whether visiting or studying, Al Azhar Mosque offers a wealth of knowledge and inspiration.



Al Azhar Mosque Categories

1. General References

These terms refer to the famous mosque in Cairo, Egypt, known for its historical and religious significance.

  • Al Azhar Mosque

    • The primary term used to refer to the famous mosque and university in Cairo, Egypt.
  • Al Azhar Masjid

    • Another common term for Al Azhar Mosque, using the Arabic word "Masjid" for mosque.
  • Azhar Mosque

    • A shortened reference to Al Azhar Mosque, often used interchangeably.
  • Al Azhar Great Mosque

    • Highlights the grandeur and importance of Al Azhar Mosque.
  • Al Azhar Grand Mosque

    • Emphasizes the large size and significance of the mosque.
  • Masjid Al Azhar

    • Arabic term for Al Azhar Mosque, with "Masjid" indicating a place of worship.
  • Masjid Al Azhar Mesir

    • Specific reference to Al Azhar Mosque in Egypt, using the Arabic name for Egypt (Mesir).

2. Specialized References

These terms focus on specific aspects of Al Azhar Mosque, such as its architecture, history, and functions.

  • Al Azhar Mosque and University

    • Refers to the combination of the mosque and its affiliated university, a major center for Islamic learning.
  • Al Azhar Mosque Architecture

    • Focuses on the architectural design and features of Al Azhar Mosque, including its minarets, arches, and intricate designs.
  • Al Azhar Mosque History

    • Explores the rich historical background of Al Azhar Mosque, from its founding in 970 AD to its role in Islamic scholarship.
  • Al Azhar Mosque Plan

    • Refers to the layout and architectural plans of Al Azhar Mosque, including its various sections and their functions.

3. Specific References

These terms relate to particular aspects or details associated with Al Azhar Mosque.

  • Ad Art Masjid Al Azhar

    • Likely refers to the artistic and decorative aspects of Al Azhar Mosque, including calligraphy, mosaics, and other art forms.
  • Azhar Masjid Timetable

    • Refers to the schedule of prayer times and events held at Al Azhar Mosque.


Questions & Answers (FAQs)


This section provides detailed answers to frequently asked questions about Al-Azhar Mosque. Learn about its historical significance, architectural features, religious importance, and more. Each question is answered thoroughly to give you a comprehensive understanding of this iconic Islamic institution.

General Information about Al-Azhar Mosque

Why is the Al-Azhar Mosque important?

Al-Azhar Mosque is one of the most significant religious and educational institutions in the Islamic world. It is important because:

  1. Historical Significance: Founded in 970 AD, it is one of the oldest mosques and universities in the world.
  2. Educational Role: It serves as the center of Islamic learning, where scholars from around the world come to study Islamic theology, law, and science.
  3. Religious Authority: Al-Azhar is a leading voice in Sunni Islam, issuing fatwas and guiding the Muslim community on religious matters.
  4. Cultural Influence: The mosque has played a key role in the spread of Islamic culture and knowledge throughout history.

How old is Al-Azhar Mosque?

Al-Azhar Mosque was founded in 970 AD during the Fatimid Caliphate, making it over 1,050 years old. Its longevity is a testament to its enduring importance in Islamic history and education.

What are the interesting facts about Al-Azhar Mosque?

Here are some interesting facts about Al-Azhar Mosque:

  • Oldest University: Al-Azhar University, associated with the mosque, is considered the oldest continuously operating university in the world.
  • Architectural Evolution: The mosque has undergone several renovations and expansions over the centuries, reflecting various architectural styles.
  • Library: It houses one of the largest and oldest libraries in the Islamic world, with thousands of rare manuscripts.
  • Diverse Students: Students from all over the globe come to study at Al-Azhar, creating a diverse academic community.
  • Cultural Hub: It has been a center for cultural and intellectual exchange, influencing Islamic thought and scholarship.

What is the history of Al-Azhar?

Al-Azhar was founded by the Fatimid Caliph Al-Mu'izz li-Din Allah in 970 AD. It was initially intended as a center for Ismaili Shi'a learning but later became a Sunni institution under the Ayyubid dynasty. Throughout its history, Al-Azhar has been a beacon of Islamic scholarship, producing numerous renowned scholars and serving as a center for religious, legal, and scientific studies. Key historical milestones include:

  • Fatimid Period: Establishment and initial focus on Ismaili Shi'a doctrine.
  • Ayyubid Transition: Shift to Sunni Islam, expanding its role and influence.
  • Mamluk and Ottoman Eras: Further expansion and increased prestige as a global center of learning.
  • Modern Era: Continuing to adapt to contemporary challenges while preserving its rich heritage.

What is Al-Azhar known for?

Al-Azhar is known for:

  • Islamic Scholarship: Renowned for its contributions to Islamic theology, law, and sciences.
  • Fatwas: Issuing religious rulings that guide Muslims worldwide.
  • Education: Offering a comprehensive curriculum that includes both religious and secular subjects.
  • Cultural Preservation: Safeguarding Islamic culture and heritage through its vast library and academic programs.

Why is Al-Azhar Mosque famous?

Al-Azhar Mosque is famous for its historical and educational significance. It is a symbol of Islamic learning and scholarship, attracting students and scholars from around the world. Its architectural beauty, with its intricate designs and minarets, also makes it a notable landmark in Cairo.

What does Al-Azhar mean in Arabic?

The name "Al-Azhar" means "The Resplendent" or "The Luminous" in Arabic. It is believed to be named after Fatimah al-Zahra, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, reflecting the mosque's intended splendor and significance.

Visiting Al-Azhar Mosque

How to visit Al-Azhar Mosque?

Visiting Al-Azhar Mosque is a rewarding experience. Here’s how you can plan your visit:

  1. Location: The mosque is located in the heart of Islamic Cairo, near other historic sites.
  2. Visiting Hours: It is open to visitors during non-prayer times. Check local schedules for exact timings.
  3. Dress Code: Modest clothing is required. Men should wear long pants, and women should cover their heads and wear long skirts or pants.
  4. Guided Tours: Consider joining a guided tour to learn about the mosque’s history and architecture.
  5. Respect: Be respectful of worshippers and the sacred space during your visit.

What is the biggest mosque in Egypt?

The biggest mosque in Egypt is the Mosque of Ibn Tulun, known for its vast size and historical significance. However, Al-Azhar Mosque holds a unique place as a major center of learning and religious authority.

How big is Al-Azhar Mosque?

Al-Azhar Mosque covers an extensive area with multiple prayer halls, courtyards, and educational buildings. It has grown significantly since its founding, incorporating various architectural styles and expansions over the centuries.

How many minarets does Al-Azhar have?

Al-Azhar Mosque features five minarets, each added during different historical periods. These minarets showcase the evolving architectural styles and the mosque’s expansion over time.

What is the style of the Al-Azhar Mosque?

The architectural style of Al-Azhar Mosque is a blend of various Islamic styles, reflecting its long history:

  • Fatimid: The original structure with its austere yet elegant design.
  • Mamluk: Additions like the minarets and courtyards, featuring intricate decorations.
  • Ottoman: Renovations and expansions, including the addition of domes and larger prayer spaces.

Who constructed Al-Azhar Mosque?

Al-Azhar Mosque was constructed by the Fatimid Caliph Al-Mu'izz li-Din Allah in 970 AD. The initial purpose was to establish a center for Ismaili Shi'a learning.

How long did it take to build the Al-Azhar Mosque?

The construction of Al-Azhar Mosque began in 970 AD and was completed in 972 AD, taking approximately two years. Subsequent renovations and expansions have continued over the centuries.

What is the dome of the Al-Azhar Mosque?

The dome of Al-Azhar Mosque is a prominent feature added during the Ottoman period. It reflects the architectural style of that era, with its elegant design and decorative elements.

Religious and Educational Aspects

Is Al-Azhar Sunni or Shia?

Al-Azhar is a Sunni institution. While it was originally established as a center for Ismaili Shi'a learning under the Fatimids, it became a Sunni institution during the Ayyubid period and has remained so ever since.

Is Al-Azhar Salafi?

Al-Azhar is not Salafi. It is a Sunni institution that follows the traditional teachings of Sunni Islam, encompassing various schools of thought, including Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, and Hanbali.

Is Al-Azhar Hanafi?

Al-Azhar teaches all four major Sunni schools of thought: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, and Hanbali. It does not adhere exclusively to the Hanafi school but promotes a comprehensive understanding of Sunni jurisprudence.

Is Al-Azhar Sufi?

Al-Azhar includes Sufi teachings as part of its curriculum, reflecting the spiritual and mystical dimensions of Islam. However, it is not exclusively Sufi and incorporates a wide range of Islamic teachings.

What is taught in Al-Azhar?

Al-Azhar offers a diverse curriculum that includes:

  • Islamic Theology: Quranic studies, Hadith, and Islamic jurisprudence.
  • Arabic Language: Comprehensive courses in classical and modern Arabic.
  • Sciences: Subjects like astronomy, medicine, and mathematics, reflecting the historical contributions of Islamic scholars.
  • Humanities: Literature, history, and philosophy, providing a well-rounded education.

Does Al-Azhar teach Arabic?

Yes, Al-Azhar teaches Arabic as a core part of its curriculum. Mastery of the Arabic language is essential for understanding Islamic texts and scholarship.

How to join Al-Azhar?

To join Al-Azhar, prospective students typically need to:

  1. Apply: Submit an application to the university, including academic records and recommendations.
  2. Entrance Exams: Pass entrance examinations that assess knowledge of Arabic and Islamic studies.
  3. Visa: International students must obtain a student visa.
  4. Financial Support: Secure funding or scholarships, as Al-Azhar offers various scholarships for deserving students.

Leadership and Influence

Who is the head of Al-Azhar?

The head of Al-Azhar is known as the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar. As of my last update, the position is held by Ahmed el-Tayeb. The Grand Imam is a leading authority in Sunni Islam and plays a crucial role in guiding the Muslim community.

Who is the imam of Al-Azhar?

The imam of Al-Azhar refers to the lead prayer leader at the mosque. This position is separate from the Grand Imam and involves leading daily prayers and religious services.

Who designed Al-Azhar Mosque?

The initial design of Al-Azhar Mosque was commissioned by the Fatimid Caliph Al-Mu'izz li-Din Allah. Over the centuries, various architects and builders have contributed to its design, incorporating styles from different Islamic periods.

Related to Other Mosques and Islamic Sites

What are the three most important mosques in the world?

The three most important mosques in the Islamic world are:

  1. Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
  2. Al-Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina, Saudi Arabia.
  3. Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Palestine.

Which is the No 1 mosque in the world?

Masjid al-Haram in Mecca is considered the most important mosque in the world. It is the holiest site in Islam and the destination of the Hajj pilgrimage.

What are the three harams in Islam?

The three harams, or sacred sanctuaries, in Islam are:

  1. Masjid al-Haram in Mecca.
  2. Al-Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina.
  3. Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

What is the oldest mosque in the world?

The Quba Mosque in Medina is considered the oldest mosque in the world, with its first stones laid by the Prophet Muhammad in 622 AD.

Which is the 3rd largest mosque in the world?

The third largest mosque in the world is the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco. It is known for its stunning architecture and location on the Atlantic coast.

Where is the most beautiful mosque in the world?

Beauty is subjective, but some of the most beautiful mosques include:

  • Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
  • Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque) in Istanbul, Turkey.
  • Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran, known for its stunning stained glass windows.

What is the oldest mosque in Egypt?

The Amr ibn al-As Mosque, built in 641 AD, is the oldest mosque in Egypt and one of the oldest in Africa.

Which mosque was built by the Prophet?

Al-Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina was built by the Prophet Muhammad and his companions after their migration from Mecca.

Which prophet built Masjid al-Haram?

Masjid al-Haram in Mecca is believed to have been originally built by the Prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael.

Why is Masjid al-Haram so famous?

Masjid al-Haram is famous because it surrounds the Kaaba, the holiest site in Islam, and is the focal point of the Hajj pilgrimage. It is also the largest mosque in the world.

Which prophet built the Dome of the Rock?

The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem was constructed by the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik. It is built on the site where Prophet Muhammad is believed to have ascended to heaven during the Night Journey.

Who built Al Azhar Park?

Al Azhar Park in Cairo was developed by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, transforming a derelict site into a beautiful public space.

Is Egypt a Hanafi country?

Egypt predominantly follows the Shafi'i school of Sunni Islam, but it also incorporates teachings from the Hanafi, Maliki, and Hanbali schools.

Are Sufi Muslims Sunni or Shia?

Sufism is a mystical dimension of Islam that can be found in both Sunni and Shia traditions. It emphasizes spirituality and the inner aspects of faith.

Fun Facts and Trivia

What is a fun fact about Al-Azhar Mosque?

A fun fact about Al-Azhar Mosque is that it has been a center for learning for over a millennium, making it one of the oldest universities in continuous operation. It has educated countless scholars who have significantly influenced Islamic thought and culture.

What is the most expensive mosque in the world?

The most expensive mosque in the world is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Its construction cost is estimated at around $545 million, reflecting its opulent design and use of luxurious materials.