Echo of the Hymn and Calls of the Minarets

07th December 2010
As requested by many viewers, I have translated into English the short documentary featuring my photography on Al Jazeera titled: Echo of the Hymn and Calls of the Minarets.

Presenter speaks:
“The next report is from Egypt where we will watch the journey of a photographer capturing with her camera the echoes of the tawasheeh (a postclassical form of Arabic poetry arranged in stanzas) and the calls of the minarets.
She will tell us what the minarets mean to her and how she reads various forms of Islamic architecture depicted in the mosques of Cairo.”

Rania starts speaking:
“To me, the mosque is a sanctuary where each and every Muslim feels secure and serene.
My name is Rania Elsayed. My main profession is translation. However photography became a hobby and I started practicing it about five years ago.
My specialty in photography is horse photography and Islamic Architecture.
As a Muslim, Islamic architecture holds a very significant spiritual and moral value to me, and I try to demonstrate such value in my photos.
The photographs will appear different if I capture a building only for the beauty of its architecture.
A photo should deliver a spiritual concept and photographers should bring out their soul and inner thoughts in the photographs they capture. In this sense, the photograph will deliver the message it bears.”

First Mosque: Sultan Hassan Mosque

Rania starts speaking:
“Sultan Hassan mosque, was built by Sultan Hassan bin Al Naser bin Mohammad bin Qalawun. The mosque was designed to be a school that teaches the doctrines of the four Islamic schools (madrassah) of Jurisprudence (fiqh).
The design of the mosque is extremely unique. As we see, the mosque is colossal and the ornaments are fascinating in every sense. The Mameluks were very keen to luxuriously ornament and decorate the mosques, which is represented in the artwork of the windows and the colored glass, the wooden art of the dome of the ablution fountain and the decoration of the minarets and their muqarnas (system of projecting niches used for zones of transition and for architectural decoration) and the motif on top of the mosque’s walls.”
Visit to Sultan Hassan mosque ends.

Second Mosque: Ibn Tulun Mosque

Rania starts speaking:
“Now we are at Ibn Tulun Mosque. This mosque is my favorite subject for photography and I come here many times. The construction of the mosque was finalized in 263 Hijri. The architecture of this mosque stands out in every aspect and you will never find any mosque in Egypt similar to Ibn Tulun.
Its uniqueness is represented in the ziyadas (narrow enclosed wings surrounding the mosque on three sides), the decorative crenelations and the stucco ornamentation of soffits of the arches.
The uniqueness of this mosque extends to the photography level as well. The themes of shadow and light and their variation throughout the day produce breathtaking effects in the photographs.”
Visit to Ibn Tulun mosque ends.

“If I want to express peace and serenity in a photograph, I would capture a photograph of a minaret at sunset time with flocks of doves flying around it. That way I deliver the concept of peace as the essence of the message of Islam.
Minarets in particular represent a significant value to me. They represent the concept of spiritual elevation. When I photograph a minaret I imagine my soul rising upwards towards the top of the minaret and then I disengage from all the worldly concerns and turbulence and people’s problems; I disengage from everything.
When I go to a mosque, I feel like I go to my own home. Even I feel more comfortable being in the mosque than being at my own house. I can go to a mosque and sit there without bringing my photography equipment to take photographs. I like to sit there for a long time; I like to stay there for as long as possible.”

The End

For reference on Islamic Architecture, please visit
Dictionary of Islamic Architecture


Photo comment By noura sokar: great report and explanation msa

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