Egypt Civilisation before Islam
- :S. T. H. Khwarazmi
Egypt is an ancient land about which abundant scientific research has been carried out owing to its wealth of ancient monuments and archaeological treasures that have survived intact and much has been written about them. Among the many countries engaged in such studies, Egyptology has become a leading branch in archaeology.
The monuments existing in Egypt reveals to a considerable extent, the Egyptian history for about 6500 years, a condition which is hard to find in any other part of the world. Some of the relies which are found in the tombs and pyramids (which, too, are really tombs) belong to 2000 to 4000 B.C. For instance it would suffice to mention that the first calendar found in Egypt belongs to the years 4241 to 4238 B.C. Such a find elsewhere is unlikely.
The main point of this matter is related to the tombs and the pyramids and the belief and desire of those ancient people in Egypt for building massive tombs which should remain undisturbed. The original name of this land was not 'Egypt'. Likewise the name, Egypt, and 'Aegypten' used in Persian, Arabic and European languages are not the original names of this land. Its original name of this land in local language had been 'Kemt' or 'Kemte' which meant 'black land. 50 The name Egypt has a Hebrew origin, and the Hebrews, namely the Israelis, gave it a name which stuck and later on took the form of 'Egypt' in Arabic. The name given to it by Europeans has a Greek root from the word Aigyptos, given to it by the Greeks after the name of one of the local kings.
In the territory of Egypt, as far as history reveals, there had existed social units since ancient times, and this condition prevailed in Egypt even in pre-historic times since the beginning of history. Villages had existed in pre-historic times as a unit of civilisation in the Nile River valley.
What should be considered is the existence of higher levels of social communities in Egypt. The central government, according to available sources, had existed for about 6500 years in Egypt, and these sources are mainly the royal tombs. Thus 6500 ago Egypt was a state having kings, rulers and a central government. Obviously where ever a central government is formed, such thins as architecture, large buildings, communications, writings, script, industry, art etc. follow. All these things existed in ancient Egypt, since ages ago so that even a kind of medical science of a type existed in Egypt comparable with the level of Greek medicine during the years 2600 to 2400 B.C.; this information has been discovered by historians from the scripts which have been found. Chemistry, embalming and mummifying of bodies around which the science of chemistry had developed, as well as armoury, glazed tiles, ship-building and evidence of arts' industry and technical trades have been the other aspects of life about four or five thousand year's ago in Egypt.
The central government of Egypt of that time possessed a regular army, so that king Ramses II who ruled about one thousand years B.C. 51 had a regular army and legions that he dispatched to various parts, and even hired soldiers from such countries as Libya, Turkey and Syria. It is interesting that in that age ministers managed the affairs under a central government and the king. The king was regarded as God, a god incarnated in human body who appeared amongst the people, who regarded themselves as his servants. The priests and ministers were intermediaries between that god, or god-king and his subjects. Accordingly the 'vizier' was the contact between man and god. Of course the king was not the only god, and there were numerous other gods in Egypt, such as the god of man, god of life etc. to the extent that the god-king himself was expected to repose his faith in those gods. Some of these gods were human, and others were non-human, the king belonging to the first group.
Non-human gods had idol-temples where a number of priests served them. The priests possessed special powers; they were regarded as the greatest power in Egypt, the power of god-king included. Usually some rivalry existed between these two power centers. In the following discussions ('elated to the manner of spread of Islam in this region, we will examine how Islam succeeded in sweeping all these away, and replace them with entirely new concepts.
50. With regard to the naming of Egypt in connection with the Greek word Aigyptos which has appeared in different forms in European languages, there are numerous interpretations. One of these is the etymology of a Greek word meaning 'dark' which led to the deduction that the use of this word f or the land of Egypt is due to the f act that the colour of the waters of the Nile near the delta is dark, and it is supposed that the word Kemt which has been the original name of this land meaning 'black' conforms with the above appellation.
51. Ramses is the name of a family of Egyptian pharaohs from the 19th and 20th dynasties. Ramses II was the third ruler of the 19th dynasty, and one of the most famous pharaohs of Egypt. Qamus, the holy book, mentions him as a contemporary of Moses (a.s.), his son who pursued the Israelis, and was drowned, to be his thirteenth son. It should be remembered that the word 'pharaoh' is the Common name of all the rulers of ancient Egypt whom the Greeks called Pharaon. The word may have entered Arabic through Syriac language. The pharaohs were spread over 26 dynasties with a history of almost three thousand years.
Adapted from the book: "Background of the Birth of Islam" by: "S. T. H. Khwarazmi"
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