Jami' al-Amir Jamal al-Din al-Ustadar
Cairo, Egypt

This madrasa is a princely structure built during a period when artistic taste was greatly influenced by the Madrasa-Khanqah of Sultan Barquq. The mosque was founded by Amir Jamal al-Din Yusuf, the majordomo of Sultan Faraj ibn Barquq in 1407. He was a great patron of architecture, and the name of this quarter, al-Jamaliyya, refers to him. His career was a long catalogue of extortions and violations, and he was not mourned after his demise. Jamal al-Din ran afoul of his master the sultan, who executed him, seized his goods, and wished to tear down the mosque. However, the sultan was prevented from doing so by the qadi, and instead erased Jamal al-Din's names from the building.

Despite its awkward location at the corner of a major street, the building accommodates the various requirements of a religious complex, such as a bent entrance, sabil, and a tomb designated within the confines of the arms of the iwans. Though sometimes referred to as a mosque, this is one of only three cruciform madrasas dedicated to all four schools of law.

In the qibla iwan the white, blue, and gold panels of arabesque below the ceiling and the small turquoise pilasters that extend across the wall remain as hints of the former richness of the decoration. Jamal al-Din planned to outfit it like a palace because he wanted to retire to it. The courtyard is covered with an awning to protect those praying at noon from the sun's direct rays. The madrasa was heavily damaged in the 1992 earthquake, and has been restored by the Ministry of Culture.


Jarrar, Sabri, András Riedlmayer, and Jeffrey B. Spurr. Resources for the Study of Islamic Architecture. Cambridge, MA: Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, 1994.

Jahn, Graham. "Islamic Cairo 876-1857." International Architect 7 (1985): 36.

Mostafa, Saleh L. Madrasa, Hanqah und Mausoleum des Barquq in Kairo. Glückstadt: Augustin, 1982.

Williams, Caroline. Islamic Monuments in Cairo:The Practical Guide. Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 1993.

Williams, Caroline. Islamic Monuments in Cairo:The Practical Guide, 80-81. Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 2002.

Shari' al-Jamaliyya, Cairo, Egypt
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Associated Names
1407/809-810 AH
Style Periods
Variant Names
Mosque of al-Amir Jamal al-Din al-Ustadar
Madrasa al-Amir Jamal al-Din al-Ustadar
Building Usages