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Cairo's Historic Cemetery of al-Suyuti Conflicting Claims.


Mentioned in Ottoman period ziyara books and as a turabiyya zone in the taqarir nazar as early as the 18th C. This shrine is located very close to the Autostrade, and as such is slightly better known. Its mawlid is still celebrated in conjunction with that of al-SayyidaA’isha. Visitors serve cinnamon drinks and anoint the cenotaph with henna.

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Although this shrine is known locally as al-Barizi without any memory of his full name, Hasan Qasim, in his annotations in al-Sakhawi’s Tuhfat, then Abu Bakr after him in his appendix to Ibn ‘Uthman’s Murshid, identify it as the shrine of al-Kamal Muhammad b. al-Barizi. Al-Kamal (also referred to as Kamal al-Din and al-Kamali) was katib sirr under Sultan Jaqmaq from 842/1438 till his death in 853/1449. He inherited the post from his father Nasir al-Din Muhammad al-Barizi after the latter died. Ibn Taghri Bardi also mentions that his daughter was one of the sultan’s wives. In the National Archives, there is mention of the waqf of his father, Nasir al-Din, in the courts of al-Bab al-‘Ali and Bulaq in the 10th/16th and 11th/17th  centuries. The family home seems to have been in Bulaq as were most of the properties (a neighbourhood called Kafr al-Barizi is referred to), yet the sources are reticent as to the location of the burial place of al-Barizi father or son.

While al-Sakhawi’s ziyara book, Tuhfat al-Ahbab, does not mention this shrine, we know that it had become one of the landmarks of the area by the 19th century because the ledgers of Taqarir al-Nazar, and also in the National Archives, refer to “Qabr al-Barizi” as the western border of al-Suyuti Cemetery. According to an entry dating from 1295/1878 for example, the cemetery (called Sahra’ Sayyid Jalal) stretched from Bab al-Qarafa in the north to al-Tankaziyya in the south and from Qabr al-Barizi in the east to the Zawiya of ‘Udayy al-Qadiri (Zayn al-Din Yusuf) in the west. Furthermore, an entry dating from 1300/1883 describes the borders of “Sahra’ al-Qubbatayn (probably referring to al-Sultaniyya) as opposite the Jabakhana at the foot of Jabal al-Juyushi from Zawiyat al-Magahwri (in the mountain) to Sayyidi Muhammad al-Barizi.

This last entry, which refers to al-Barizi by his full name, is not much used in identifying him, as both the father and the son are called Muhammad. Furthermore, the fact that Muhammad is such a common name may point to the fact that this may be another Barizi altogether, maybe a descendent of Nasir al-Din Muhammad and his son al-Kamal.

Myth and Ritual

The alternative name of al-Hinnawi refers to a distinctive ritual performed by the followers of this shaykh on his annual celebration which coincides with the big night of Mawlid al-Sayyida ‘A’isha. They anoint the two graves with henna, hence the name al-Hinnawi. They also serve a hot cinnamon drink (qirfa). Not much, however, is accounted of karamas or miracles.


This shrine lies in the northern section of al-Suyuti Cemetery overlooking  Bawwabat al-Jabal Street . Two plain cenotaphs lie within an open, unroofed hawsh. The first is vaulted and the second consists of a mastaba with two short, plain, stone columns. The hawsh is uncared for, and the state of the cenotaphs is poor, with the vaulted one on the verge of collapse.


Published Books

Abu Bakr, Muhammad Fathi, Dhayl kitab murshid al-zuwwar ila qubur al-abrar (Cairo, 1995).

Al-Sakhawi, Abu’l-Hasan Nur al-Din `Ali, Tuhfat al-ahbab wa bughyat al-tullab fi’l-khitat wa’l-mazarat wa’l-tarajim wa’l-biqa` al-mubaraka, ed. M. Rabi`& H. Qasim (Cairo, 1937).

Online Books

Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, Shihab al-Din Ahmad, Inba’ al-ghumr bi-anba’ al-‘umr; online  (not numbered)

Ibn Taghri Bardi, Jamal al-Din Abu’l-Mahasin, Hawadith al-duhur fi mada al-ayyam wa’l-shuhur; online (not numbered)

Al-Maqrizi, Taqiyy al-Din Ahmad, Kitab al-suluk li-ma`rifat duwal al-muluk, ed. M. M. Ziyada & S. A. `Ashur (Cairo,1934-1973); online

(not numbered).

Al-Sakhawi, Muhammad, Al-daw’ al-lami’ li-ahl al-qarn al-tasi’ ; online:

(entries no. 571 & 698)

Archival Sources

Taqarir al-Nazar (jadid), Dar al-Watha’iq al-Qawmiyya; jadid 1, no. 80, p. 29, 17 Jumada I 1295 H; no. 97, p. 36, 20 Shawwal 1295 H; jadid 3, no. 15, p. 8,  21 Rabi’ II 1300 H.

Dar al-Watha’iq al-Qawmiyya; online ; docs no. 1001-000265-0226, 1001-000265-0323, 1005-000310-0399, 1005-000310-0460, 1005-000310-0502