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


The location of this shrine was indicated on the 1930s cadastral map. It is currently forgotten and its cenotaph was removed in the 1970s by the hawsh owner who set up a small factory in its place. Kafur is said to have uncovered a scam involving the illegal sale of a hawsh by appearing to the intended victim in a sleep vision and warning him.

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Nothing is known of this shrine except for the fact that it was important enough to be marked on the 1:1000 Survey of Egypt map of 1930. All trace of it has currently been removed and it seems to be in use as a residential/storage space.

Myth and Ritual

This space currently functions as a combination madfan/residence/workshop/storage space. Its owner, who owned a workshop in Suq al-Silah that manufactured compasses (for drawing circles not orientation), transferred his workshop to this space in 1970 due to tax troubles. In the process, he removed all traces of the shrine, and since then almost all memory of Kafur has sunk into oblivion.

This is ironic considering that the only miracle told of this shaykh is one resulting in the forebears of the workshop owner acquiring this structure as their madfan through the intercession of Shaykh Kafur. According to the turabi, the first owner, wishing to acquire it as a family madfan, went looking for the area turabi, ‘Ali Abu Sibha. He was accosted by another turabi, called ‘Ali ‘Afifi who claimed to be Abu Sibha and fraudulently sold him the madfan. Shaykh Kafur then appeared to the owner in a dream vision and told him he had been cheated. The owner then returned to ‘Afifi who when confronted was forced to return the money. He then took him to the real Abu Sibha, and they went  to the shrine. On entering, they found that a brand new turba with a big tarkiba had miraculously appeared  for the use of the would-be owner. From then on, the shrine was used for burial by members of his family and their descendents.


While it was not possible to gain access to this structure, which in all cases has now been rid of any traces of cultic markers, an idea about its spatial organization could still be deduced. An entrance  door leads into an open courtyard, which in turn has three doors. The first leads into a living space, the second into an unroofed space used for storage and the third up a staircase to a second floor above the living space. It is not possible to tell where the shrine had been or how it had functioned.


Survey of Egypt Map; 1:1000, 1930.