The Islamic Post Blog

Touring- Egypt of My Heart by Khalida
August 15, 2008, 11:35 am
Filed under: August Volume 1 - 2008, Magazine/ Culture, Touring, travel | Tags:

Muhammad Ali Mosque. From whatever vantage point in the city of Cairo, the minarets of this masjid remain visible.

Inside the Muhammad Ali Mosque, the lights of which are arranged in a mathematical algorthm (above).

Inside the Muhammad Ali Mosque, the lights of which are arranged in a mathematical algorthm (above).

By Abu Aasim, Islamic Post Staff Writer

A visit to a Cairo perfumery (right) unearthed delicate hand-blown Egyptian perfume bottles of all sizes, which are only a part of the innumerable local crafts.

A visit to a Cairo perfumery (right) unearthed delicate hand-blown Egyptian perfume bottles of all sizes, which are only a part of the innumerable local crafts.

Egypt is a land of many beauties. This nation is home to more than 80 million people. The vast majority, roughly 90% are Muslims, while the rest are  Coptic Christians. Though all the cultures are dominated by common Islamic practices, they do vary in many ways from region to region; the north being influenced by Europe and the Middle East, and the south with more Habashi and Islamic practices.
Egypt is most widely identified by the great pyramids at Giza, but there is far more to see in this country of many faces; and when it comes to fun and interesting tourist destinations, Egypt ranks among the best in the world.
The north coast, which lies on the Mediterranean Sea, is lined with breathtaking beaches and resorts. Alexandria is probably the most well-known northern destination to outsiders, with its popular beaches and sea-front resorts and condos. The Mediterranean, with all its history and mystery is a favorite stop for surfers wanting to catch the steady slow of good waves,;families looking to spend wholesome time together, and the occasional romantic simply becoming lost in thought and imagination while staring into its powerful, soothing motion. The city of nearly five million people, which is locally nicknamed “Alex,” is also home to a huge library, built in the spirit of the historical Library of Alexandria, once the academic center of the world. Its beautiful architecture and variety of indoor activities make it a popular stop for families and group visits as well as intellectuals.
If calmer, salty seas and more peaceful beaches are your preference, than Marsa Matruh, a seaside city, is most welcoming to those seeking a little more privacy. As in any of the northern coastal towns, you can find fine Mediterranean cuisine, at prices that don’t upset your stomach.
Egypt’s entire eastern borders, as well as the southern coast of the Sinai Peninsula, are formed by the Red Sea. Perhaps the most frequented areas of the country are along the Red Sea coast. This famous area is where Nabi Musa –who is Moses the Holy Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace– crossed on foot, bringing his people out from under the oppressive grip of the pharaoh, Ramses II.
These days the coast is more popular with tourists, foreign and domestic alike; though historians and theologians still abound in the area. People come for the snorkeling, calm crystal blue water, colorful corals and all manner of activities.
Luxor and Aswan are the two largest cities in Upper Egypt (though it’s actually in the south, its called “upper” because the Nile runs from north to south). In these places you will find many ancient temples like Karnack and Luxor. Many travelers come to this area to visit the Nubian people, who are world-famous for their excellent manners and hospitality. The beauty of the landscape in Upper Egypt is also breathtaking.
Then there’s Cairo, simply called “Egypt” by many here; perhaps because this sprawling city of over twenty million inhabitants contains the many flavors of this diverse country within its boundaries. Located directly on the Nile River, Cairo bustles at all hours. There is no shortage of places to go and things to do here. Its rich history, from the pharaohs to the Uthmanian Turks is on full, open display everywhere you go. From the pyramids of Giza, to the museum of antiquities, which contains the naturally preserved body of Fir’oun, or Pharoah of Quranic scripture, one could spend a lifetime seeing and reading all that’s available.
The Egyptians are warm friendly people, and their capitol, which reflects them as a whole is, in comparison with other big cities around the world, fairly peaceful. And though over-pricing for foreigners is common, outright crime is relatively non-existent, which makes for a nice stay anywhere.
Cairo, being nicknamed the City of a Thousand Minarets, is probably not much of an exaggeration. There is a mosque, or masjid, at nearly every turn; and one can find detailed stories of the rich Islamic history here. The Muhammad Ali Masjid, surrounded by the Citadel of Salahuddin Ayyubi, is the most prominent in appearance, and towers over the entire city.
Islamic Cairo, a district within the city walls, is an open-air museum straight from the Middle Ages. With its crowded, narrow, winding streets, and vendors who have changed little with time, one can easily lose tract of the current century. The beautiful masjids of Islamic Cairo, which are still in everyday use, are fascinating both spiritually and esthetically. The most prominent of these is that of Sayedina Hussein Bin Ali, may Allah be pleased with him and his father. After being slain along with his family and children in the desert sands of Karbala, his blessed head was brought to Cairo by his sister Sayeda Zeinab and only surviving son Imam Zain ul Abideen, may Allah be pleased with both of them, and buried where the masjid stands today.
The Egyptians had been persuaded at some point to allow the blessed head of Sayedina Hussen bin Ali to be buried along with his body at Karbala, but the Egyptians have been reluctant to depart with the blessings sought due to its presence.

Popular Egyptian Cuisine

Falafel served with tahini, tomato, cucumber and pita bread.
Falafel served with tahini, tomato, cucumber and pita bread. (Roboppy Photo) Falafel (Tamaya)Ingredients
1. 2 cups skinned white broad beans.
2. 1/2 cup fresh dill leaves.
3. 1/2 cup coriander leaves.
4. 2 onions.
5. 10 garlic cloves.
6. 1/2 cup parsley leaves.
7. 1 small leek, stalk only.
8. 1 teaspoon sodium bicarbonate or baking soda.
9. 1 teaspoon cumin.
10. 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper. (optional)
11. 1-2 tablespoons sesame seeds.
12. cooking oil.
13. salt.

1. Soak beans overnight.
2. Drain and mince with dill, coriander, onions, garlic, parsley, and leek.
3. Add spices, seasoning, and sodium bicarbonate, then, knead.
4. Let stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.
5. With a wet spoon or wet fingers, scoop a small amount and shape into flat discs about 2 inches in diameter and 3/4 inch thick.
6. Sprinkle one side with sesame seeds and deep fry in sizzling oil until brown.
7. Remove onto absorbent paper.

It is best eaten hot with tomato salad.

The most common and distinctly Egyptian food is a dish called koshary. This mixture of chick peas, onions, noodles, and rice is served with a special tomato-based sauce and an optional flaming-hot sauce. Other popular foods are fool mudammas stewed beans eaten with pita bread and tamaya, otherwise known as falafel (shown above).

Fool Mudammas – Dry Broad beans, stewed

There are three main types of dry broad beans:
1) Fool Rumi, or Greek beans: are large flat and whitish.
2) Fool Hamam, or pigeon beans: are small, round and dark brown.
3) Fool Baladi Sa’idi, or Local Upper Egyptian beans: are whitish and mid-size.

1. 2 cups dry broad beans (fava beans)
2. 1/2 cup split lentils
3. Optional: 1 tomato, 1 carrot, and 1 onion.

1. Place beans and lentils in a dammasa, or stewing pot, with at least three times their measure in water.
A dammasa is a metal, vase-shaped pot with a tight lid and narrow neck used chiefly to stew dried broad beans, or fool, but a regular stewing pot may be used.
2. Boil over a high flame, then add any or all the optional vegetables.
3. Bring to boil, cover very tightly, and simmer over very slow flame for 6-9 hours, or overnight, adding more boiling water whenever the water is absorbed and beans are dry (cold water will shrivel the beans, change the taste, and make them hard). This is the basis of fool mudammas.
4. Then mash the beans with oil (cottonseed, olive, linseed, or corn oil), lemon, salt, and any of the following ingredients: crushed garlic, grated onions, chopped tomatoes, and cumin.
A quicker but less attractive way to cook Fuul is to use a pressure cooker. Though the taste of the beans will remain the same, the color tends to turn much darker.


1 Comment so far
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Ma sha Allah. I am so happy to see a positive ISLAMIC article on Egypt that wasn’t overly fascinated with pyramids. There is so much beauty and rich history in Egypt, that the other stuff wouldn’t compare. All of the pyramids and statues in the world could never compare to a hair from the blessed head of Imam al-Husain ibn Ali alaihis salaam. Please post more good articles like this one.

Comment by Muhammad Khawandshah

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