Gdm'a el-Azhar. CAIRO. 3. Route. 289
(PL 1), which was restored by Edhem Pasha at the beginning of
the present century, we frequently observe barbers engaged in
shaving the heads of the students with admirable skill, but we of
course avoid stopping to watch the process for fear of giving offence.
This being one of the fountain-heads of Mohammedan fanaticism,
the traveller should, of course, throughout his visit, be careful not
to indulge openly in any gestures of amusement or contempt.
Beyond the entrance , which forms a kind of fore-court, we reach
the Hosh el-Gam'a (PL 2), or Great Court, where the students are
seen sitting on their mats in groups and conning their tasks. This
court does not contain the usual fountain for ablution, but there
•are three small Cisterns (PL 3) for the purpose. The arcades
enclosing the court have arches approaching the keel shape, but
the sides are straighter than usual. The openings and niches over
the arcades are less systematically arranged than in the case of the
Tulun Mosque (p. 263), from which they seem to have been copied.
On the E. side, in the direction of Mecca, is the Liwan el-
Gam'a (PL 4), or Sanctuary, now the principal hall of instruction,
covering an area of about 3600 sq. yds., with a low ceiling resting
on 380 columns of granite and marble, all of ancient origin, and
arbitrarily arranged. The hall is entirely destitute of architectural
enrichment, and presents a heavy and sombre appearance. Here
again, as in the court, we observe various groups of students
in the usual crouching attitude, and others devoutly praying in
front of the kiblas (PL 5), of which there is one for each of the
four recognised sects of the Shafe'ites, the Malekites, the Hanefites,
and the Hambalites (comp. p. 147). The domes over these kiblas
and their walls are adorned not unpleasingly in stucco. On the S.
side is the Tomb of 'Abd er-Rahman Kikhya (PL 8), by whom the
S.E. part of the mosque was restored (d. about 1750). To the W.
(right) of this tomb is the Riwak (see above) of the students
from Dar-Fur (PL 34), and to the left of the latter, on the E. side,
is that of the natives of Mecca and Medina (PI. 28). The N. side
is bounded by the Mesgid Goharlyeh (PL 9), a smaller mosque, and
the oldest part of the whole structure.
After having inspected the great hall, the -visitor is conducted
into a number of smaller apartments (riwaks), some of which are
indicated in the plan of the edifice, but they contain nothing
noteworthy. There is also a separate riwak, called the Zdwiyet el-
'Omydn, for blind students, for whose maintenance a portion of the
funds is set apart. These blind youths, who have a shekh of their
own, were frequently guilty of riotous conduct in former years,
and used to parade the streets armed with bludgeons, whenever
they conceived their rights infringed, the disputes being generally
concerning the quality of their food. To this day they are said to
be the most fanatical of their sect, and to entertain the most bitter
hatred and contempt for the kaflr, or unbelieving Christian.
Baedeiseb's Egypt I. 19