The Mosque of Sayyindna al-Hussein in Cairo is one of the mosques in the city to be considered too sacred to allow non-Muslims to enter.
That is why, even if it is a very interesting place to visit, tourists cannot go inside. In fact, it contains one of the most holy relics of the Islam: Al-Hussein’s head, who happens to be the Prophet’s grandson.
It was taken there 500 years after Hussein’s death, in 1153, and it was put inside a green silk bag, in order to be saved from the Crusaders, who were desecrating Islamic sites in Palestina. The head, then, was buried a couple of metres beneath a shrine.
According to the hisorical facts, Al-Hussein was killed by the Umayyad clan who got the power of the caliphate after Prophet Mohammed died without having named a successor. Mohammed’s daughter, at that time, was married with Ali, who claimed his right to be the natural successor, due to the right by marriage. Unfortunately the Umayyads killed him, and they did the same to his son, Al-Hussein, who led a revolt against them but he died in the battle of Kerbala.
It’s such a shame, isn’t it? But these episodes show how people can act only because they want to assume the power and they are not afraid of killing someone else.
Al-Hussein, in fact, was a blood relativ of the Prophet, and this is why he is seen as one of the popular saints in Egypt. He is not some public figures tourists can admire, he is a hero for the religion, and being holy also means not to be showed all the time to strangers, but also to the believers.
Followers of both Ali and Al-Hussein are the so-called Shi’ia, who consider as caliph anyone buyt Mohammed’s descendants. People who believe the succession went right via the Umayyads are the so-called Sunnis, who are basically the 90% of Muslims.