(CNN) — Countless streets across the Islamic world are currently alight with ornate festive lanterns.
Part of a tradition dating back over 800 years, the Ramadan lanterns, or “fanoos,” have become one of the most popular and enduring symbols of the month-long festival.
Believed to have originated in Egypt — where the lanterns are most prevalent — it is almost impossible to know how the tradition began.
Legends are numerous and varied, but one of the most popular features Egyptian Al Hakim Bi-Amr Illah who ruled over the North African Shiite Moslem Fatimid dynasty in the 10th century. He was said to have ordered all imams to light the streets of Cairo during the Ramadan nights.