"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Monday, July 8, 2013

From Byzantine to Islamic Egypt

Though for understandable reasons most of our attention today is on current Muslim-Coptic relations in Egypt, those relations go back to the very beginnings of Islam and have waxed and waned for 1400 years. Set for release just before Christmas is a new study that will help us appreciate the depth of relations in Egypt, and the process of her becoming an increasingly Islamized society from the seventh century onward: Maged S.A. Mikhail, From Byzantine to Islamic Egypt: Religion, Identity and Politics After the Arab Conquest (Tauris Academic, 2013), 304pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
The conquest of Egypt by Islamic armies under the command of Amr ibn al-As in the seventh century transformed medieval Egyptian society. Seeking to uncover the broader cultural changes of the period by drawing on a wide array of literary and documentary sources, Maged Mikhail stresses the cultural and institutional developments that punctuated the histories of Christians and Muslims in the province under early Islamic rule.

From Byzantine to Islamic Egypt traces how the largely agrarian Egyptian society responded to the influx of Arabic and Islam, the means by which the Coptic Church constructed its sectarian identity, the Islamisation of the administrative classes and how these factors converged to create a new medieval society. The result is a fascinating and essential study for scholars of Byzantine and early Islamic Egypt.

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