Rafed English

Government in Ancient Egypt

Egypt had passed through various periods of government, most of which had been of local rulers. Certain points here merit attention: For about one century Egypt was ruled over by Iran and since Darius and Xerxes conquered Egypt, Egypt was administered by a governor appointed by Darius to represent the Iranian government. After a time local governments took control there. Next Egypt was conquered by the Greeks and Alexander of Macedonia who built the port of Alexandria. After Alexander's death, the Ptolemies who were his followers governed Egypt for several centuries. 56 Then once again local governments Greek ruler exchanged power, and this struggle continued for a long time. In the time of Anushirvan, Egypt was ruled for a period of ten years by Iran. During all these periods that the imperialist powers of the age, Iran, Greece and Rome conquered Egypt, none of them were able to assert any influence there to the extent that Islam and the Arab Muslims did.

In this historical survey, one of the essential aspects is to show the degree of influence that Islam succeeded in asserting in various regions including Egypt; for, firstly the natural conditions for the acceptance of the faith of monotheism were not favourable in Egypt, and secondly in the different periods that Egypt had been under the Iranian, Greek and Roman rule Egypt had not accepted foreign domination and nor did those foreign rulers find much stability in that land, or influence it to any extent. How did it happen, then, that for the first time when Omar dispatched only four thousand soldiers Egypt succumbed readily in 641 A.D. when the Muslims entered Egypt the prevalent religions was mainly Christianity in the north, and idolatry with a small mix of Christianity and Judaism in the south. Since Judaism was a nationalistic faith, it did not easily spread into non-Jewish regions. Thus at the time of the rise of Islam, Egypt did not have a single faith. This was the general state of affairs in Egypt, a neighbour of the birth place of Islam. When the prophet of Islam began to propagate his faith in Arabia, governors were ruling in Egypt whose names are mentioned in our history books. One of them was Maquqas to whom the prophet addressed a letter in the sixth year of his migration; this point will be discussed later in connection with the Prophet's letters to various kings and rulers.

In brief, Egypt had an ancient civilisation and was far ahead of Arabia from the viewpoint of science and arts etc.

It should be borne in mind that, that part of Arabia, namely Hejaz, was then at a tribal stage prior to the birth of the prophet, and had not till then attained an organised form of government, whereas Egypt had had such a government for several centuries in addition to a regular army, science, industry and was familiar with different schools of philosophy It should be added that Alexandria had been a great center of learning for nine centuries before the rise of Islam, and how did a country with such a background fell so easily to the army of Islam will be discussed later.


56. The Ptolemies were the descendants of Alexander's generals from Macedonia fourteen of whom ruled Egypt after Alexander' s death (323-30 B.C.). In Roman language a kin

Adapted from the book: "Background of the Birth of Islam" by: "S. T. H. Khwarazmi"

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