A study by archaeologist Abul-Ela Khalil ascertained the presence of a sabil (water fountain) and tomb on al-Imam al-Layth Street in the al-Imam al-Shafei cemetery, that was not listed on the Egyptian antiquities list and was never mentioned in any previous archeological study related to Ottoman sabils or tombs.
Abdel-Rahim Rihan, General Manager for Archaeological Research, Studies, and Publishing in Lower Egypt and Sinai, talked to Watani about this important discovery. He began by explaining that a sabil was a public water fountain for thirsty passers-by to drink, given that Egypt is a country of hot climate so a drink of water is invaluable. The facility and the tomb belonged to the jurist Hassan Baznada Effendi, head representative of al-Ashraaf, literally the Honourables, in Egypt during the reign of the Ottoman Governor Mohammad Pasha Rami in 1116 Hijri / 1704 AD.
Hassan Effendi made his sabil so that the passersby may drink from it and pray for him and his relatives buried close by. Above the sabil, the following sentence was inscribed: “This sabil was constructed by Hassan Baznada, Head Representative of al-Ashraaf in Egypt in 1116 Hijri, for the sake of pleasing Allah”.
Dr Rihan explained that al-Ashraaf were those who had the honour to be among the descendants of the Prophet Mohammed; Naqib al-Ashraaf (Head Representative of the Honourables) was responsible for keeping the lists of those who belong to the Prophet’s line and was also responsible for handing over to them any cash or present from the State treasury. The Ottomans used to appoint a Turk to this post. The Turkish traveller Evliya Çelebi, who visited Egypt in 1092 Hijri/1680 AD, stated in his book Seyahatnama Misr (Book of Travel of Egypt) that Naqib al-Ashraaf had under him some 46,000 citizens.
According to local historians, Dr Rihan said, the family of Hassan Effendi had earned the approbation of the Ottoman State so that his father, grandfather and uncle had been appointed to this post. On Friday 7 Rajab 1121 Hijri / 1709 AD, Hassan Effendi died and was buried in Cairo; his funeral was massive and many public figures attended it.