The sheikh of the readings coming from the depths of Upper Egypt.. The train of removals in Cairo arrives at the tomb of Imam Warsh

Cairo- The attempt of Syed Ali, a researcher in heritage, to reach the tomb of Imam Warsh (Othman bin Saeed) in the Imam Al-Shafi’i area in central Cairo seemed very difficult, due to the security blockade of the area in which the removal operations are taking place amid a state of surprise and suppressed anger.

Ali told Al-Jazeera Net that the heritage preservation societies have so far failed to communicate with the responsible authorities to stop the demolition of the Imam Warsh cemetery, adding, “It is unreasonable for the government to do this act.”

He pointed out that the bulldozers are moving at a terrible speed, as if they are on an urgent mission to implement a goal related to all of ancient historic Cairo, not just the tombs of famous people, headed by one of the world’s largest famous reciters and teachers of the Holy Qur’an.

Roses scattered by visitors to the Imam Warsh cemetery after they learned of the demolition decision (Al-Jazeera)

The Ministry of Antiquities disavows

In turn, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities disclaimed responsibility for the decision to demolish the tomb of Imam Warsh, nicknamed “Sheikh of the Readers”, which comes as part of a plan to remove the tombs of historic Cairo, or what is known as the City of the Dead.

An official source in the Ministry of Antiquities told Al-Jazeera Net that the ministry cannot move, because the tomb is not registered with it within the Islamic, Coptic and Jewish antiquities sector, adding, “The antiquities and the Ministry of Tourism have nothing to do with the demolition decision.”

The source stressed that all that belongs to the heritage located in the area of ​​​​the tombs of Imam Al-Shafi’i is not affiliated with the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

In the same context, Lamia Mukhtar, a member of the “Egypt’s Evidence” initiative – which is leading a campaign to save historic Cairo – told Al-Jazeera Net that the authorities that carry out the demolition have great powers and do not pay attention to answering the questions of antiquities experts, and that the implementation is carried out exclusively through the Cairo Governorate and higher authorities. You didn’t name it.

This came as the crisis of the demolition of the Imam Warsh cemetery interacted between his fans and researchers in the sciences and readings of the Noble Qur’an, as he is the author of one of the most famous recitations.

In turn, Professor of Islamic Archeology at Cairo University, Mahmoud Harbi, tells Al-Jazeera Net that the current government inherited a heavy legacy of encroachments on the historic Cairo cemeteries, but with its current actions it has crossed all limits.

Harbi described the demolition as unjustified and unprecedented, considering that it is possible to provide alternative roads and axes away from the symbols of history.

He stated that the removal of the tomb of Imam Warsh and other famous people is a “major crime,” noting that the demolition decisions threaten to erase the concept of the historical Qarafa or cemeteries of Cairo as a single urban unit, and added, “The successive demolitions seem determined to erase a long and important history.”

After the researcher in cultural heritage, Mustafa Al-Sadiq, was unable to communicate with any responsible party, he revealed on his Facebook page that the removals train had arrived in the old historic Cairo cemeteries to the Imam Warsh cemetery, and said that the authorities had already put a “removal” sign on the cemetery, which is located in the area of ​​” Imam Shafi’i” under the foot of the Mokattam Mountain.

Al-Sadiq said that the place should have been converted into a shrine for consideration and reading Al-Fatiha for the soul of the imam, the author of the reading, instead of demolishing it and constructing a road, and he expressed his anger at the government’s insistence on continuing the demolition, saying, “Words fail to express just as the tongue fails to reveal what is in particular.”

His most famous recitations

Al-Sadiq mentioned that “Imam Warsh is Abu Saeed Othman bin Saeed bin Abdullah bin Amr bin Suleiman, and his sheikh, Imam Nafie, called him the title “Warsh”, which is a well-known bird, and the workshop is also something that is made of milk, and the imam was named Warsh because of its pure white color. “.

He added, “Imam Warsh is considered the sheikh of the verified reciters, and he had a good voice and a good recitation.

Al-Sadiq pointed out that his recitation spread in North and West Africa and in Andalusia, “and it is the most common recitation in the Islamic world after Hafs’s narration, and one of its characteristics is reducing the hamzat al-qat’ and tilting alif to z at the end of some words.”

The prevalent reading of Warsh remained in Egypt until the Ottomans entered the country, as the reading of Hafs became the approved reading in Egypt.

The researcher denounced the failure to realize the value of Imam Warsh, saying, “Imagine that the place of Imam Warsh’s cemetery is in the yard of the family of Sheikh Muhammad Muharram and his son, Haj Abd al-Rahman. Unfortunately, most Egyptians do not know that Imam Warsh is buried in Egypt, and they do not know where his grave is.”

The yard of Sheikh Muharram, in which the cemetery is located (Al-Jazeera Net)
Hosh Sheikh Muharram, in which the Imam Warsh cemetery is located (Al-Jazeera)

Coming from the depths of Upper Egypt

The researcher in the sciences of the Qur’an, Muhammad Awad, talks to Al-Jazeera Net about a feeling of sorrow, and asks, “How does the tomb of Imam Warsh, whom God Almighty honored by choosing him to be the narrator of the second most famous reading of the Holy Qur’an in the world after reading Hafs on the authority of Assem, be demolished ?!

Awad says that through his multiple researches he concluded that Imam Warsh was born in the year 110 AH in the town of Qift in the depths of Upper Egypt, then he moved to Fustat in the city of Cairo to teach people in the Amr ibn al-Aas mosque, before he left again to Medina. To read to Imam Nafie Al-Madani, where he read to him several seals of the Holy Qur’an in the year 155 AH.

According to the researcher, Imam Warsh returned to Egypt in the year 155 AH, and the presidency of the reciters ended with him, and there was no dispute with him in it, with his proficiency in the Arabic language and his knowledge of intonation, and he was reliable and an argument in reading, good reading, good voice, if he read, he whispers, extends, stresses, and shows the syntax until he died In Egypt in the year 197 AH.

The researcher points out that the reading of Warsh’s narration was prevalent in Egypt until the Ottomans tried to convert the Egyptians to reading the narration of Hafs on the authority of Asim, explaining that “the reading of Warsh on Nafie Al-Madani went with the Maliki, Ash’ari and Sunni Sufis in the cities side by side.”

Awad added, “Al-Saidi, the son of the city of Qeft, has become an elder of reciters and reciters in Egypt and other countries, and his narration has become one of the most famous narrations in the recitation of the Glorious Qur’an, and after that they want to demolish his cemetery.”

Awad is surprised how many Egyptians do not know anything about the biography of Imam Warsh.

The researcher also reveals that the spread of the news about the demolition of the Imam Warsh cemetery spread to his friends in Morocco, and some of them moved to ask the Moroccan government to transfer his remains to Fez or Casablanca and re-bury him in the Hassan II Mosque, the largest and most famous mosque in Morocco.

It is noteworthy that the City of the Dead, in which the tomb of Imam Warsh is located, is part of the historic city of Cairo, which has been registered on the list of World Heritage Sites since 1979.

The history of the city of the dead – which extends over a distance of 12 kilometers and covers an area of ​​about a thousand hectares – dates back to the Islamic conquest of Egypt, and there lie prominent Islamic figures such as Amr ibn al-Aas, who led the conquest of Egypt and ruled it for years, and there are also the graves of many famous people of literature and politics.

The campaign of activists intensified after the discovery of graves and monuments dating back more than 1,200 years before they were trampled by bulldozers.

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