Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Abu haggag festival

Abu Haggag Mosque

The Mosque after its facelift  from the fire

View of the Mosque from inside the Temple pre 2007

The Mosque of Abu Haggag is a mosque located in the Egyptian city of Luxor. Specifically, it stands atop the ruins of Luxor Temple, an Ancient Egyptian centre of worship dating back to the reign of Pharaoh Amenhotep III in the 14th century BC.
Although its positioning atop the pharaonic columns seems both precarious and invasive, the Mosque of Abu Haggag (or Abu l-Haggag) must be seen as more than just a coincidental intruder. First, when the mosque was built, large parts of the temple were covered with earth. Secondly, it is not uncommon for a religious kinship between ancient Egyptian cult places and the local version of popular Islam to be recreated. When the pharaonic temple was unearthed in the late 19th century, locals fiercely resisted any attempt to tear down the mosque. For them, the geographical position was important, and a new mosque also dedicated to Abu Haggag has never become very popular.
Abu Haggag was a Sufi shaykh, born in Baghdad, but he spent the latter half of his 90 years in Luxor. He died here in 1243, but it is believed that the minaret is older than him, dating back to the 11th century. The mosque itself has been rebuilt many times, and completely in the 19th century. Abu Haggag is Luxor's main saint, and his mosque is the core of local religious activities. Locals believe that his mosque is a particularly important religious spot, full of baraka, divine blessing.
When Shaikh Abu El Haggag came to Luxor, Islam at the time was not the major religion in Egypt; Coptic Christianity was the leading religion at the time. The city was a colony owned by a religious Coptic lady. She used to be called The Princess. Her soldiers saw Sheikh Abu El Haggag there and was immediately recognized as a foreigner, therefore he was taken to the Princess for questioning as they feared that he is a spy from a different tribe/region. He complained to her about the treatment he received and expressed that he wishes to become a local citizen. The lady was generous and offered him to stay as long as he wishes. He asked her to give him a land as big as a camel’s skin to sleep on it, she thought that would be maximum of 2 square meters, so she agreed as she was a generous Lady, he asked her to sign a contract confirming the deal which she agreed to.
At night, he took a camel’s skin and he cut it into a very thin line at the front of some local witnesses, something similar to a very thin washing line, he used it to border a big part of Luxor Temple. In the morning, soldiers saw this line and reported it to the Princess, and then she realised that he owns this bordered part of the temple as per their written agreement. As much as she was feeling deceived by his plan, they met few times afterwards, she was impressed by his knowledge and then she converted to Islam.
At the time, there was a church in the place of the mosque. Shaikh Abu El Haggag agreed with the princess to convert the building to a mosque, which stands till today. In the upper ground foundation the old part of the church, which is clear that it is not a part of the temple, can still be seen.
Lots of people claimed that he became a monk and was given a power to practice miracles, such as walking on water, healing rare diseases, and even people see him in the pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia while others sees him at the same time in Luxor. When he died he was buried in the mosque.
The festival is held for 2 days how I describe it is a big sweet selling time anything that makes a noise
  shiny or plastic. (a fairground sweets avenue)
Evening scene of the festival  the noise right outside my home went on until 3 in the morning.
OOh look some beans being kept cool with a block of ice,
One of the egyptians favorite snack  forget about hot dogs  beefburgers  etc  this is the real thing  the inners of the cattle,    I remember A freind of mine being very clever in Cairo in 2003.  got to have one of them he said,   before he finished the sandwich he was sick,   so me I never touch the stuff  even though it smell delicious,
and of course the smell is the spices,
Last day of the sale  this guy is selling off cheap by 3 in the afternoon all the stalls had gone and it looked as if there never was a 2 day festival.
Just loved this one , what do we do with all the hats left over mum.
Sand castles!  pretend you are on the beach little one.
The ice blocks ready to put in the fridges  thats if they do not melt before .
Hats  hats and more hats.balls balls and more balls,

Beans with sweets   or sweets with beans
And if you can not buy a candy floss machine make your own improvised version 
Last procession of the festival   I almost missed  it  sorting my own problem out,
Thank goodness thats all over  i can get som catnap time in now,

Oh dear some one will get a sore bum.

Just think of the germs  poeple have eaten from this meat mincing machine  


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