Mosque Name: Jami’ ‘Amr ibn al-‘As
Year of construction (AH): 21 AH
Year of construction (AD): 642 AD
GPS: 30° 0’38.74"N 31°13’54.09"E
Original Qibla: Petra
Rebuilt facing Between: 211
The Mosque of ’Amr ibn al-’As was founded by the Muslim conqueror of Egypt in 641 near his house in the town of Fustat, outside of Cairo. The original mosque no longer stands. It was rebuilt and enlarged in 673 during the reign of Mu’awiya, who is said to have added a minaret to each of its four corners.
Today the original mosque does not exist in its original form, having undergone numerous rebuildings and restorations so that the original foundation is no longer evident.
However, the original plan of the mosque can be reconstructed from descriptions. These descriptions show that the qibla faced east and had to be corrected later under the governorship of Qurra ibn Sharik. (Creswell 1969, pages 37,150)
Interestingly this agrees with the later Islamic tradition compiled by Ahmad ibn al-Maqrizi that ’Amr ibn al-’As prayed facing east, and not more towards the south. (al-Maqrizi 1326 page 6; Crone-Cook 1977 pages 24,173)
The mosque was built in Fustat by the military commander ‘Amr ibn al-‘As in the winter of 641-642. The fifteenth-century historian al-Maqrizī relates two stories about the way in which ‘Amr had the qibla laid out.
The first story reads: ‘Amr sent the two men (named in the text) to set up the qibla and said to them: ‘Stand when the sun is beginning to decline -or, in another version, when the sun is on the meridian-and have (the sun) at your ḥājibaylumā,’ and they did (this).
The second story says*: ‘Amr was laying out ropes so that the qibla of the mosque could be set up, and he said: “Make the qibla sharriqu l-qib*la *and you will face the Ka’ba.''…*
Al-Maqrizī relates that when ‘Amr prayed in the mosque, he prayed almost towards the east (nahiyat al-sharq illa l-shay’’ al-yaszir), and that when he prayed in a church he would pray almost in the qibla of the Christians, i.e., due east (lam yanṣarif ‘an qiblatihim illā qalīlan).
Ibn Ibn Taghrtībirdī and also al-Qalqashandī, but not al-Maqrnzī report that when the mosque was enlarged by Qurra it was actually pulled down and rebuilt on a larger scale in a different direction, more to the south. Ibn Taghrtībirdī’s remarks (Arabic text no. 10) are as follows: The qibla was much too far to the east. When Qurra ibn Shartk pulled down his mosque and (re)built it in the time of al-Walid … he turned (the qibla) a little to the south.
From the Qibla Tool we can see that the original mosque would have faced the Ka’ba in Petra which was a little north of east. The new mosque faced south of east, and was closer to the later Between Qibla. This would agree with the above two statements. ‘Amr faced ‘too far east’ meanng a bit north when he prayed. So he would observe the direction the Christian churches faced (which was due east) and then he would turn just a bit farther (north) so that he faced the Qibla. Later these old mosques were torn down, and the qibla of the new mosque faced south of east towards Mecca in Saudi Arabia.