Al Jame ul Anwar was subject to ages of neglect and misuse. The premise was used as a school, called Madrasa Salahdar. The presence of this school inflicted considerable damage on the masjid’s piety and sanctity. Toilets were built in the sehan and the adjoining area was used as a playground. Though the authorities tried to close down the school immediately after its inception in 1902, they failed to do so, and the assault on the masjid continued for eight long decades. The removal of this school constitutes one of the nine miracles of Al Jame ul Anwar.
During the restoration work, one of the school children wanting to relieve himself strayed onto a big pile of wood stocked for the construction of the ceiling and got trapped. The Egyptians viewed this mishap as punishment for the violation of the masjid.
The Madrasa was pulled down and rebuilt in an adjoining area in Jamalia itself, in a period of 110 days.
The removal of the school resulted in the emergence of the original foundations which had till then been obscured.
Beginnings are always difficult, but the beginning of the restoration of Al-Jamea-ul-Anwar seemed a journey into the impossible.
The Masjid had remained in ruins for centuries. The sehan had been used as a dump yard, tons of rubble lay scattered about, a sewer ran right behind the qiblah, a school had been erected inside, the open area was used as a playground and trees and vegetation grew on the inside. One day, Al Dai il Ajal Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin (TUS) asked a handful of mumineen in Cairo to undertake the cleaning of Al-Jamea-ul-Anwar. Mumineen were quite bewildered as the cleaning of the masjid could not even be conceived at that time. ‘How and what shall we clean?’ they wondered. Even the Municipal authorities of Cairo city denied the work and saw it impossible.
However, Syedna Saheb (TUS) remained firm in his determination and he himself took up the cleaning of Al Jame ul Anwar. In three consecutive days, mumineen managed to clean the area called the ‘majaaz’. Gradually, the work picked up tempo and workers were hired and heavy equipment like bulldozers were brought in. The project was then officially launched. It is interesting to note that two minarets of the masjid were cleaned and washed with the help of fire brigades.
The cleaning was the most challenging of tasks, yet the most important. The revelation of old relics and the emergence of original foundations upon which the masjid was built were the fruits of this labor. With every layer of debris cleared, an era of past history was uncovered. Finally, a staggering amount of 29,000 or more truck loads of dirt and rubble were removed from the masjid: the debris also contained harmful creatures like snakes and bats.
The work was finally completed and the Masjid was restored to what it is today-Al-Jamea-ul-Anwar-the manifestation of the glory of Aimmat Fatemiyeen, a key with which Maula has opened the treasures of barakaat for posterity.