Al-Zahir Baybars Mosque Reopens in Cairo During Kazakh Culture Days

ASTANA – Mosque of al-Zahir Baybars (Sultan Beibars) re-opened on June 4 in Cairo after years of renovation co-funded by Kazakhstan and Egypt, reported the Ministry of Culture and Sports.

The mosque was constructed in 1268 at the start of Sultan Beibars. The mosque was constructed in 1268 at the start of Sultan Beibars. Photo credit: Senate’s press service.

The ceremony coincided with the Days of Kazakh Culture in Egypt and was attended by high-level Kazakh officials, including Kazakhstan’s Senate Chairperson Maulen Ashimbayev, Minister of Culture and Sports Askhat Oralov, and Minister of Information and Public Development Darkhan Kydyrali.

Constructed in 1268 by Beibars, the fourth Mamluk sultan of Egypt from the Bahri dynasty, the mosque was renovated for 237 million Egyptian pounds (US$7.67 million) by joint efforts of the Egyptian and Kazakh governments. Kazakhstan contributed $4.5 million to the renovation. 

The agreement between the governments was reached in 2007, but the renovation work started only in 2018.

Maulen Ashimbayev presented Egypt’s Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb high state award – the order of Dostyk (Friendship) of the first degree. Photo credit: Senate’s press service.

Speaking at the event, Ashimbayev said that the 800th anniversary of a wise ruler and an outstanding commander Sultan Beibars is a deeply symbolic and significant event for Egypt and Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan plans to hold over 600 events to mark the anniversary date in both countries.

“Relations between the Kazakh and Egyptian peoples have deep historical roots dating back to the time of the Mamluks. Sultan Beibars paid special attention to constructing mosques and madrasahs and developing science and education,” said Ashimbayev.

“Today is a very important day for Kazakhstan and Egypt. We not only rediscover one of Cairo’s landmarks, but also strengthen the cultural and spiritual bond between the two nations. Sultan Beibars is an important figure in the history of our countries, that is why I would like to thank the Egyptian side for cooperation in preserving the cultural heritage important for all of us,” said Oralov.

Kazakh delegation led by Maulen Ashimbayev held meeting with Egypt’s Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb on June 4 in Cairo. Photo credit: Senate’s press service.

Kazakhstan and Egypt have enjoyed dynamic cooperation, with several important projects in the cultural and spiritual areas. One of them is the Nur-Mubarak Egyptian University of Islamic Culture, which opened in 2003 in Almaty.

While in Cairo, Ashimbayev met with Egypt’s Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb, who took part in the seventh Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in September in Astana, to discuss the development of interfaith dialogue. 

Muslims inside the Mosque of al-Zahir Baybars. Photo credit: Senate’s press service.

He noted that Kazakhstan and Al-Azhar University have long-standing relations, sharing common ideas for promoting the culture of peace. For many years, Kazakh students have received theological education on the history of Islam, the Quran, Islamic theology, Islamic philosophy, and other topics at the university.

“Al-Azhar plays an important role in the spiritual development of the modern world. You are effectively involved in maintaining peace and harmony at the international level. Kazakhstan also attaches great importance to strengthening interreligious cooperation,” said Ashimbayev.

Kazakhstan’s Senate Chairperson Maulen Ashimbayev delivers speech at the re-opening ceremony of the restored Mosque of al-Zahir Baybars. Photo credit: Senate’s press service.

During the meeting with the Chairman of the Senate of the Egyptian Parliament Abdel Wahab Abdel Razeq, Ashimbayev noted that Egypt is a key partner of Kazakhstan in the Islamic world and expressed interest in strengthening multilateral relations and expanding inter-parliamentary ties.

Mosque of al-Zahir Baybars interior. Photo credit: Senate’s press service.

“Inter-parliamentary cooperation is an integral part of inter-country cooperation. We are interested in enhancing the work of friendship groups between our parliaments, which share similar views on key international topics and work closely within the international organizations,” said Ashimbayev.

Maulen Ashimbayev presented Speaker of the Egyptian Senate Abdel Wahab Abdel Razeq high state award – the order of Dostyk (Friendship) of the second degree. Photo credit: Senate’s press service.

On the same day, prominent artists from Kazakhstan performed at the Cairo Opera House, which also hosted an exhibition showcasing the traditions and art of the Kazakh people. 

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