In 639 AD, Arab
armies led by general Amr ibn El-Ãs advanced
to Egypt, defeated the Byzantines
and in 641 AD all the Egypt land felt under the Arab rule.
Copts are said to have helped
the newcomers in a hope to see a more tolerant rule.
To the north of the Babylon
fortress, the stronghold of the Byzantines, Arabs founded Al-Fustat
City to be the first Arab capital of Egypt.
Arabs conquer Egypt in the 7th century AD
image 2004 ©
The Moslem conquerors posed two options for Copts: whether to convert
to Islam or to pay a poll tax.
Egypt was now ruled by a governor who is appointed by a caliph
in Mecca. From his side, this governor was authorized to appoint chief
officials of the state.
The first governor, Amr ibn El-Ãs, was tolerant enough to
Egyptians but severe taxation policies practiced from time to time
brought about popular resentments and revolts, particularly by the
native Egyptians, Copts.
In Mecca, a conflict took place among Moslems following the death
of Caliph Othman. Moslems onward would be divided into Sunnis
(orthodox) and Shi'ites,
who believed the caliphate
(leadership of Moslems) should have gone to Ali, the prophet's cousin,
and his descendents.
The gap of differences between the two sects widened and from time
to time wars erupted between them.
As a result of the conflict, a new caliphate called the Umayyad
dynasty ruled from Damascus in 661 AD.
A rare Koran from Umayyad Dynasty
Photo by Raymon Kondos ©
In 706, Arabic language was made the official language of the administration
in Egypt. This decision urged Copts to begin learning Arabic if they
want to participate in the government.
The final days of the
Umayyad dynasty were associated with skirmishes with the Byzantine
In 750 AD, Marawan II, the last Umayyad caliph was killed and the
city of Al-Fustat was seized by Abbasid