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Arab Conquest and Umayyad Dynasty
(641 - 750 AD)

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.

Arabs conquer Egypt in the 7th century AD
image 2004 ©

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.
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 caliphWhat does it mean? 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 SunnisWhat does it mean? (orthodox) and Shi'itesWhat does it mean?, who believed the caliphateWhat does it mean? (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.

Umayyad Koran
A rare Koran from Umayyad Dynasty
Photo by Raymon Kondos ©
As a result of the conflict, a new caliphate called the Umayyad dynasty ruled from Damascus in 661 AD.
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 Empire.
In 750 AD, Marawan II, the last Umayyad caliph was killed and the city of Al-Fustat was seized by Abbasid general Saleh.

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