Foul for a Fool
Manial's Unusual Ibrahim Mosque
Updated: Jan 8, 2021
After seeing pictures of this mosque in the past and being fascinated as to the reason behind its unusual structure with the mosque being incased by apartments, I for a long time had no idea where it was exactly. I seemed relatively confident it was in Manial and had even cycled around Manial's backstreets for the soul purpose of trying to find where the mosque is, but to no avail. Thankfully, I came across the building along with its location and history in a copy of Mohamed Elshahed's fantastic Cairo Since 1900: An Architectural Guide. Hidden in the south of Manial, just of Sharia Al Malek El-Saleh, Ibrahim Mosque sits along a calm leafy street. Strikingly, two floors of apartments sit on top of the mosque and the minaret is encased by apartments, raising the question, Did the minaret and mosque or apartments come first, or was this the original design? And why?
According to Elshahed's great book mentioned above, the building was built in 1945, and the strange minaret and apartment combination was from the original design. The unusual juxtaposition and interaction of religious and domestic space comes from its intended function to be building to be a self-sustaining place of worship. The rents of the apartments that lay above the mosque and around the minaret was intended to go towards to costs related to the running and upkeep of the mosque.