When I first visited Cairo with an old friend of mine, I immediately fell in love with its noise, food smells, and sense of identity. But it was almost too hectic at times, and in the afternoons when we were tired from having merchants constantly calling to us and children tugging at us, my friend and I would duck into one of the many mosques in the “City of Minarets”.

Our regular haunt was the massive al-Azhar Mosque in the center of the city. We stayed out of the way, often just sitting in the shade, journaling quietly, people-watching, or praying to ourselves. I loved that the mosque was a place where people lived their everyday lives, it didn’t feel separate from daily errands or social visits. We were welcomed in the mosque, to enjoy the peace and recharge before diving back into the city.

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