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

ALSHAYKH SHAFI'I

Small cenotaph with a small base where visitors would light candles. Almost never visited. Said to be a cenotaph only with no grave below ground.

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Identification

Nothing is known of the history of this shaykh. In fact, there is a suspicion that this simple marker does not have a corresponding grave underneath.

Myth and Ritual

The memory of this shaykh has almost sunk into oblivion. It is never visited, and only the turabis remember it being a destination of ritual ziyara. All that remains to mark its cultic significance is a small basin-like structure attached to the cenotaph where visitors used to place candles as a votive offering. One of the turabis recalls hearing a young man vowing to bring half a dozen candles and light them, if he gets out of the army (military service?) alive.

The rarity of visitors encouraged some of the turabis to try and open the grave and use it for burial, possibly reselling it. This was when they discovered that there is no grave – or at least they could not find it.

Description

A standard masonry cenotaph painted with green lime-wash to denote its cultic status, it is topped by two plain stone tombstones also painted green. One of them has a rounded top, while the other one has the typical tripartite shape that is popular to this very day. The box-like structure intended for candles is on the verge of collapse.