Let`s Explore Egypt
Cairo was founded by General Gawhar al-Siqilli (the Sicilian) at the order of the Fatimid Caliph al-Mu'izz li Din Allah in 969. The Fatimid Caliphate was based in north Africa to the west of Egypt and it followed Shi'a Islam. The Fatimids conquered Egypt to be their base for spreading their ideology. In order to do that they defeated the Sunni Ikhshidid dynasty.From the name of the Prophet Muhaammad's daughter Fatimah was derived the Fatimid word and from her epithet Zahra' was derived the name of Cairo's main mosque al-Azhar.
If we go back in time ,a little bit more than 3 centuries,to 642 A.D. Alexandria had been the capital of Egypt for about 1000 years before the Arab conquest that took the rule of Egypt away from the hands of the Byzantines. The Arabs' army was spearheaded by Amr ibn al-As who built Al Fustat to be the first capital of Egypt under Muslim rule. Al Fustat was built just outside the Roman fortress of Babylon on the river Nile (then). Not far northwards was the site of the ancient city of Heliopolist that was a religious and spiritual center for the ancient Egyptians starting from about 3000 B.C.. And just south of present Metropolitan Cairo are the remains of Memphis (present Mit Rahina) that wasthe capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom (c. 3200-2100 B.C.). Al Fustat probably means "City of the tents". The city was originally populated with soldiers and their families as Amr ibn al-As wanted it to be a base of operatios to conquer north Africa. At the center of the city was the mosque of Amr ibn al-As, te first mosque builtin Egypt, the first mosque built in Africa and the third mosque in the history of Islam. Al Fustat remained the capital of Egypt along the rule of Rashidun Caliphs and Umayyad Dynasty.
What remains of Al Fustat?
The mosque of Amr ibn al-As, though it doesn't have any of its original structure but surely it is worth a visit
Around 750 A.D. the capital was moved to a new one adjacent to Al Fustat to the northeast. Its name was Al-Askar (Cantonments) an it was built after the Abbasid Dynasty overthrew the Umayyad Dynasty and moved the capital of Caliphate from Damascus to Baghdad.
In 870 A.D., governor Ahmad ibn Tulun declared Egypt's independence. As a manifestation of this independence, Ibn Tulun fonded a new capital, Al-Qatta'i to the northeast of Al-Askar. Al-Qatta'i means (Sections) as it was laid out in grid like pattern subdivided into sections for the army officers, the soldiers, the merchants, the traders and other groups.At the center of Al-Qatta'i was built the mosque of Ibn Tulun, the oldest mosque still intact in Egypt, which is famous forh design of its minaret withexternal staand te use of pointed arches two centuries before Europe did