The Abu Haggag Mosque is located on Luxor’s East Bank, in the first court of the ancient Luxor Temple complex whic is featured in most of our Egypt tour packages. Although not much remains of Luxor Temple, there’s more than enough to make it one of the most visited Luxor tourist attractions. Anyone who visits Luxor Temple is essentially also visiting the mosque, and the nice thing is that visitors, including non-Muslims, are welcome to take a look around inside.
Built during the 13th century, the Abu Haggag Mosque is still a place of worship to this day, which in itself makes a visit to Luxor Temple even more special.
The temple ruins, with this delightful old mosque in their midst, is really a sight to behold. And, if you enjoy your visit to this site during the day, you definitely need to visit it again in the evening when it is all illuminated as part of a beautifully narrated sound and lights show which takes place every evening.
A Brief History of Abu Haggag Mosque
The Abu Haggag Mosque was not the first place of worship to be built on the ruins of Luxor Temple which itself had been a place of worship. Before the mosque arrived, several churches were built around the temple, including one which stood on the exact same spot as the mosque does today.
One of the most remarkable things about this site is the fact that people of one religion or another have been worshipping here for more than 35 centuries already.
Some say that a sheikh by the name of Youssef, who was spreading the word of Islam in the area, actually built the mosque. It is also said that he dedicated much of his time to taking care of pilgrims. Because of this, he later became known as Abu Haggag (Father of Pilgrims), with Haggag being the Arabic word for pilgrims.
However, according to local legend, it is very unlikely that Youssef Abu Haggag actually built the temple.
The Legend of Abu Haggag
Youssef was born sometime around 1150 AD in Damascus, and he is believed to have moved to Mecca at some point during his forties, before finally settling in Egypt, at Luxor, where he lived until his death in 1245 AD.
According to local legend, the Abu Haggag Mosque had already been built in the first court of the ancient Luxor Temple, and when a high-ranking official wanted it removed, Youssef protested.
Despite his efforts, the official insisted that the mosque had to be torn down. Just before the mosque was due to be demolished, the official who was responsible, woke up one morning and discovered that his body was paralyzed. This caused the official to think that his sudden paralysis must surely have be brought about by his dispute with Abu Haggag, and his order to have the mosque demolished.
The official then quickly changed his mind, and gave permission for the mosque to stay where it was.
Ever since then Abu Haggag and the Abu Haggag Mosque have had a very special place in the hearts of the people of Luxor.
Abu Haggag and His Moulid
Moulids in Egypt are essentially birthday celebrations for holy people; for saints of the Muslim faith, and also the Christian faith. Although these celebrations are not actually customs as such, they are nonetheless extremely popular traditions. Some of these celebrations, such as Moulid el-Naby which celebrates the Prophet’s birthday, are celebrated all across the country.
On the other hand, some are only celebrated locally, including the Moulid of Abu Haggag which takes place in Luxor every year in early November.
The Moulid of Abu Haggag lasts several days, and it’s a lively; colorful and very noisy event; an event which is essentially a fun filled combination of religion and entertainment. It is the sort of event many people long for each year. Many locals will save money all year just so that they can enjoy the festivities and join a procession through the streets.
It goes without saying that this must be the best time of the year to visit the Abu Haggag Mosque.
There are very few opportunities in Egypt which make it possible for you to witness genuine tradition and customs in such a special way. After all, these wonderful events are not staged for the benefit of tourists, although tourists are more than welcome to take part.
Visiting Luxor Temple and Abu Hagag Mosque
A visit to Luxor Temple is included in nearly all of our Nile River cruises, regardless of whether you book one of our Nile cruises from Luxor to Aswan, or whether you book one of our Nile cruises from Aswan to Luxor.
And, if you plan your trip so that it coincides with the Moulid of Abu Haggag in early November, then you will be in for an even bigger treat when you visit the Abu Haggag Mosque.