conquete de l’egypte

Conquête de l’Egypte


Les textes suivant sont extraits du répertoire de textes anciens non musulmans de Robert G. Hoyland  Seing islam as others saw it 

Hoyland (1997)

Among the Christian population of Egypt the invasion occasioned much confusion and panic. Some fled, « abandoning all their possessions and wealth and cattle; »  a few resisted and made plans « with a view to attacking the Muslims; » a number even « apostatised from the Christian faith and embraced the faith of the beast. » Others were conscripted to repair roads and bridges, « and people began to help the Muslims. »  The military initially put up a fight, but a run of defeats made them pursue a more conciliatory line. The people of Antinoe wished to take the offensive, but John their prefect refused, « for he knew he could not resist the Muslims and [he feared] lest he should meet with the same fate as the garrison of Fayyum. »  Soon the authorities conceded defeat, at least temporarily, and the emperor Constans empowered Cyrus « to make peace with the Muslims and check any further resistance against them, and to establish a system of administration suitable to the government of the land of Egypt. »

patriarch Dionysius of Tellmahre (818-45)

Concerning the land of Egypt we have found in histories that Benjamin, the patriarch of the orthodox, gave Egypt to the Arabs. The Copts handed over Alexandria and Egypt to the Arabs because they were oppressed by the persecution of the Chalcedonians. Cyrus, the Chalcedonian patriarch, who tied the red slipper of kings to one foot and the sandal of monks to the other, like one who has royal andreligious authority, drove out the patriarch Benjamin. He left and went to the Arabs and promised that he would hand over to them Alexandria, if they would expel Cyrus and restore the churches to him. When he had promised and they had confirmed it with oaths, he returned and informed his people and they surrendered Alexandria to the Arabs.

Tabari, 1.2581

When we (Muslims) arrived in Balhib (village in the Delta), the ruler of Alexandria sent a message to ‘Amr ibn al-‘ Asthat ran: « O Arabs, in the past I used to pay a poll-tax to people who were more hateful to me than you, namely Persians and Byzantines. If you want me to pay the poll-tax, I am agreeable on the condition that you will return to me all those people from our region whom you have captured. »

There was in Alexandria a bishop of the Copts called Abba Benjamin. When he heard of the coming of’ Amr ibn al-‘ As to Egypt, he wrote to the Copts informing them that the Romans would [soon) have no rule and that their kingdom was at an end, and he instructed them to receive ‘Amr. And it is said that the Copts who were in Farama (Pelusium) were that day helping ‘Amr.

Chronique. Maronite

AG 969-75/658-64

AG 969: Mu’awiya has his sister’s son Hudhayfa killed. ‘All was slain « while praying at Hira. » Mu’awiya went down to Hira and received allegiance from all the Arab forces there.

AG 970: There was an earthquake in Palestine. A dispute was held between the Jacobites and the Maronites « in the presence of Mu’awiya. » When the Jacobites were defeated, Mu’awiya ordered them to pay 20,000 denarii. « So it became a custom for the Jacobite bishops that every year they give that sum of gold to Mu’awiya so that he not loose his hand upon them. » There was another earthquake. The emperor Constans had his brother Theodore put to death, then went to fight the northern peoples in order to avoid the protests his action had provoked.

AG 971: « Many Arabs gathered at Jerusalem and made Mu’awiya king and he went up and sat down on Golgotha and prayed there. He went to Gethsemane and went down to the tomb of the blessed Mary and prayed in it. In those days when the Arabs were gathered there with Mu’awiya,

there was an earthquake; » much of Jericho fell, as well as many nearby churches and monasteries. « In July of the same year the emirs and many Arabs gathered and gave their allegiance to Mu’awiya. Then an order went out that he should be proclaimed king in all the villages and cities of his dominion and that they should make acclamations and invocations to him. He also minted gold and silver, but it was not accepted because it had no cross on it. Furthermore, Mu’awiya did not wear a crown like other kings in the world. He placed his throne in Damascus and refused to go to the seat of Muhammad. »

Isaac of Rakoti, Patriarch of Alexandria (689-92)

History of the Patriarchs XV

In those days a man named Theodore governed Alexandria, and he was a leader in the community of the Chalcedonians and was an opponent of the orthodox Theodosians. He went to Damascus to the foremost of the Muslims, named Yazid ibn Mu’awiya, and took from him a diploma empowering him over the people of Alexandria and Maryut and all its environs and [declaring that] the governor of Egypt had no authority over him, for he had paid him (Yaz!d)

much money. He returned and tyrannised the father, Abba Agathon, and troubled him.

History of the Patriarchs XVI,

A bd al-‘ Aziz ibn Marwan à Alexandrie en 685

He ordered the breaking of all the crosses which were in the land of Egypt, even the crosses of gold and silver. So the Christians of the country of Egypt became troubled. Then he wrote a number of notices and placed them on the doors of the churches in Misr and the Delta, saying in them: « Muhammad is the great messenger ( al-rasul al-kabir) who is God’s, and Jesus too is the messenger of God. God does not beget and is not begotten. »

La Chine

Tu Yu, T’ung tien, CXCIII, as translated by Wakeman, Western Barbarians, 892-925

During the Yung-hui reign period (650-56) of the Great T’ang, the Arabs ( Ta-shih) sent an embassy to the court to present tribute. It is said that their country is west of Persia (Po-ssu). Some [also] say that in the beginning there was a Persian who supposedly had the help of a spirit in obtaining edged weapons [with which] he killed people, subsequently calling for all the Persians to become his followers. There were eleven Persians who came and, according to their rank as mo-shou, were transformed into kings. After this the masses gradually gave their allegiance, and subsequently Persia was extinguished and Byzantium ( Fulin) was crushed, as were also Indian cities; [the Arabs] were everywhere invincible. Their soldiers numbered 420,000 and by this time their state was 34 years old. When the original king had died, his office passed to the first mo-shou, and now the king was the third mo-shou; the royal surname is Ta-shih.

The men of this country have noses that are large and long, and they are slender and dark with abundant facial hair like the Indians; the women are graceful. [The Arabs] also have literature that is different from that of Persia. They raise camels, horses, donkeys, mules, and sheep. The soil is all sandy and stony, unfit for cultivation and without the five grains. All they have to eat is the flesh of camels and elephants. After having crushed Persia and Byzantium, for the first time they had rice and flour. They solemnly worship a celestial spirit.

It is also said that their king once sent men to take a ship loaded with provisions and set sail across the sea. When they had sailed for eight years without reaching the western shore, they saw in the middle of the ocean a squarish rock on top of which was a tree with red branches and green leaves. Up in the tree, in clusters, grew little mannikins six or seven inches long. When these saw the men, they did not speak, but they all were able to smile and move their arms and legs. Their heads were attached to the branches of the tree. If a man picked one and put it in his hand, it would wither and turn black. [The king’s] envoys took one branch and brought it back and today it is in the Arab royal residence.

Tu Huan’s Ching-hsing chi says: Another name [for the capital] is Kufa ( Ya-chii-lo ). The Arab king is called mumen,  and his capital is located at this place. Both men and women are handsome and tall, their clothing is bright and clean, and their manners are elegant. When a woman goes out in public, she must cover her face irrespective of her lofty or lowly social position. They perform ritual prayers five times a day. They eat meat, fast and they regard the butchering of an animal as meritorious. They wear silver belts about the waist from which they suspend silver daggers.

They prohibit the drinking of wine and forbid music. When people squabble among themselves, they do not come to blows. There is also a ceremonial hall which accommodates tens of thousands of people. Every seven days the king comes out to perform religious services; he mounts a high pulpit and preaches the law to the multitudes. He says: « Human life is very difficult, the path of righteousness is not easy, and adultery is wrong. To rob or steal, in the slightest way to deceive people with words, to make oneself secure by endangering others, to cheat the poor or oppress the lowly-there is no sin greater than one of these. All who are killed in battle against the enemies [of Islam] will achieve paradise. Kill the enemies and you will receive happiness beyond measure. »

The entire land has been transformed; the people follow [the tenets of Islam] like a river its channel, the law is applied only with leniency and the dead are interred only with frugality. Whether inside the walls of a great city or only inside a village gate, the people lack nothing of what the earth produces. [Their country] is the hub of the universe where myriad goods are abundant and inexpensive, where rich brocades, pearls and money fill the shops while camels, horses, donkey and mules fill the streets and alleys. They cut sugar cane to build cottages resembling Chinese carriages. Whenever there is a holiday the nobility are presented with more vessels of glass and flasks and bowls of brass than can be counted. The white rice and white flour are not different from those of China. Their fruits include the peach and also thousand-year dates. Their rape turnips, as big as a peck, are round and their taste is very delicious, while their other vegetables are like those of other countries. The grapes are as large as hen’s eggs. The most highly esteemed of their fragrant oils are two: one called jasmine and the other called myrrh. The most esteemed of their fragrant herbs are [also] two …. Chinese artisans have made the first looms for weaving silk fabrics and are the first gold and silversmiths and painters ….  They also have camels and horse-drawn vehicles. Of their horses tradition says that those born of union between dragons and mares on the coast of the Persian Gulf have the belly small and the feet and ankles long; the good ones do 1000 li in a day [A li is just over half a kilometer, about a third of a mile]. Their camels are small and fast, have a single hump, and the good ones can do 1000 li in a day. There are also ostriches four feet tall and more with feet resembling those of camels; a man can ride on its neck a distance of five or six li and its egg is as big as three pints. There is also the chi tree which has fruit like summer dates that can be used to make oil for food and to cure malaria. The climate is warm and the land is without ice and snow. The people all suffer from malaria and dysentery; In the space of a year five out of ten die.

Today [the Arabs] have absorbed forty or fifty countries, all of them reduced to subjugation, [the Arabs] parcelling out their troops so as to secure their territory all the way to the Western ocean. It is also said that Zarang is over 700 li southwest of Amul. Those Persians whose surname is Chu are from this country. Their city is fifteen li square and they have used iron to make the gates of their city. In the city there are salt ponds and also two Buddhist establishments. Its territory measures 140 li east to west and 180 li north to south. Villages come one after another and there are trees so close together that they cast interlocking shadows circling them completely; there is quicksand everywhere. To the south there is a large river which flows into their territory and is divided into several hundred canals which irrigate the entire region. The land is fertile and its people clean. The walls [of the buildings] are tall and thick and the bazaar is level; the wood is carved and, further, the floors are painted. There are also fine cotton fabrics and lambskin coats, the value of the best of which is estimated at several hundred pieces of silver.

The fruits they have include red peaches, white crabapples, white and yellow plums, and melons, the big ones being called hsiin-chih of which but one is enough to make a meal for ten men, and yiieh-kua which are over four feet long. Vegetables include turnips, radishes, long onions, round onions, cabbage, Asian wild rice, creeping beans, indigo, tan-ta, sweet fennel, shallots, bottle gourds and grapes which are especially abundant. There are also oxen, wild horses, ducks and rock chickens.

It is their custom to take the fifth month as [the beginning of] the year. Every year they give each other gifts of painted jars. There is a bath festival and a swing festival. The Arab governor of the eastern marches resides here and from here all the way to the Persian Gulf Arabs and Persians dwell mixed together. As to their customs, they worship Heaven and do not eat the meat of animals dead of natural causes or meat kept overnight. They smear their hair with fragrant oil. It is further said that Syria (Shan kuo) is on the western border of the Arabs and has a circumference of several thousand li. They build houses with tile roofs and pile up stones to make walls. Rice and grain are very cheap. There is a large river flowing eastward which enters Kufa. Merchants are constantly going and coming, buying and selling grain. The people are large in stature and their clothing is voluminous, somewhat resembling the gown of a Confucian scholar. Syria has five military governorships with over 10,000 soldiers and horses. On the north it borders the Khazar Turks. North of the Khazars are other Turks whose feet resemble those of oxen and who like to eat human flesh.

The Hsin T’ang shu (1060)

The Arab country was originally part of Persia. The men have high noses, are black and bearded. The women are very fair, and when they go out they veil the face. Five times daily they worship God. They wear silver girdles with silver knives suspended [from them]. They do not drink wine nor use music. Their place of worship will accommodate several hundreds of people. Every seventh day the king sits on high and speaks to those below saying: « Those who are killed by the enemy will be born in heaven above; those who slay the enemy will receive happiness. » Therefore they are usually valiant fighters. Their land is sandy and stony and not fit for cultivation, so they hunt and eat flesh. They cut sugar cane to build cottages resembling carriages, and they give presents to the nobles every year. There are large grapes the size of hen’s eggs. They have excellent horses, born from dragons and which can travel 1000 li in one day.

In the middle of the Ta-yeh reign period of the Sui dynasty (605-17) there was a Persian shepherding on the hills of Medina. A beast spoke to him saying: « On the western side of the hill there are three caves in one of which there are sharp swords and a black stone with an inscription in white saying that whoever possesses it will become king. » The man went and found everything as stated. The inscription on the stone said that he should rebel, so he gathered followers together at the stream Hen Ko. They robbed merchants and built a stronghold in the western parts, and the man made himself king. He removed the black stone there and regarded it as precious. The people went to punish and suppress him, but they were all badly defeated. From this time he became still stronger and destroyed Persia and Byzantium, thereby for the first time gaining access to abundant stocks of millet and wheat, and invaded India and other countries. He had even as many as 400,000 soldiers. The territories of Samarkand and Tashkent were tributary to him. His lands embraced an area of 10,000 li. To the east they reached as far as the Turgesh; to the southwest they were bordered by the sea.

Suite : Collecte du coran


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