Posts Tagged ‘Egypt’
Egypt (مصر) has always been the country of great importance for mankind. Most of the stories from Qur’an, Bible and Torah occurred in Egypt. This article deals with God’s messengers Abraham (Ibraheem a.s.), Jacob (Yaqoob a.s.), Joseph (Yusoof a.s.) and Mosses (Moosa a.s.) and their life in Egypt (Misr).
God’s messenger Abraham visited Egypt and messengers Jacob and Joseph found their asylum in Egypt while messenger Mosses was born and grew up in Egypt. All of them played very important role in Egyptian and global human history.
According to holy books, events in their lives are interconnected.
Abraham – messenger of God and his visit to Egypt
According to the Hebrew Bible, New Testament and Qur’an as well as their respective interpretive literatures, Abraham is the first human to realize and act out the divine will. Although foundational figures appear in literatures such as the Gilgamesh Epic that are more ancient than the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), these have been forgotten to history and only rediscovered through archaeology and the deciphering of dead languages. Abraham first appears in the book of Genesis and serves as the original human to affirm monotheism and to act on that affirmation. The symbolic meaning and significance of Abraham differs among the three great monotheistic religious systems.
The story begins with the visit of messenger Abraham to Egypt. The believers of Abraham’s people emigrated with him from Babylon (today’s Iraq) to the Holy land – Palestine, what we can see from the following verses of the holy Qur’an:
“4. Indeed, there is for you a good example in Ibrahim and those with him when they said to their people, `Indeed, we are disassociated from you and from what you worship besides Allah. We have denied you, and there has appeared between us and you enmity and hatred forever until you believe in Allah Alone, except for the saying of Ibrahim to his father, `Surely, I will ask forgiveness for you, and I do not have (power) to do anything for you against Allah in anything. Our Lord, upon You we put our trust, and to You we turn (in repentance), and to You is the final return.” (surah Al-Mumtahinah);
“69. We said, “O Fire! be thou cool, and (a means of) safety for Abraham!”
70. Then they sought a stratagem against him: but We made them the ones that lost most!
71. But We delivered him and (his nephew) Lut (and directed them) to the land which We have blessed for the nations”. (Surah Al-Anbiya’)
The expression “the land which We have blessed” refers to the land of Palestine. As we can see from these Qur’anic verses, Abraham and the believers from his people emigrated to Palestine.
Thanks to Egyptian historical records we know that these migrations occurred during the King Amenemhat I’s rule over Egypt. King Amenemhat I, who was the founder of the Twelfth Dynasty, perceived these large migrations near the border of Egypt and built strong fortifications along the border between Egypt and Palestine known as “the wall of the ruler”. This fortification is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an in surah Yusoof in the era of the messenger Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, when the messenger Jacob told to his sons not to enter Egypt from one gate, but sporadic gates: “67. Further he said (Jacob said): “O my sons! Enter (Egypt) not all by one gate: enter ye by different gates. Not that I can profit you aught against Allah (with my advice): None can command except Allah. On Him do I put my trust: and let all that trust put their trust on Him”.
The king of Egypt, who met the messenger of God Abraham, gave him Mrs. Hager, the princess who he had captured after civil wars in Egypt.
As historian al-Tabari writes, Arabian ruler Amr Bin Al-Aas, when he conquered Egypt (640 A.D.), he told about the Messenger Muhammed sallAllahu alayhi we sallam words concerning Egyptians where he says to believers to take care about Egyptians during the conquest of Egypt due to their relationship with him that originates of his old grandmother Hager, the wife of messenger Abraham.
The economic system in Egypt in the era of Joseph, the fourth grandson of Abraham is similar to the economic system of the Twelfth Dynasty founded by Amenemhat I. Nevertheless, it is more likely that his son and successor, Senusret I, was the king who met messenger Abraham in Egypt. After these occurrences a better relationship started between Egypt and Bedouins in Asia who were allowed to come to Egypt for the first time in history for trade.
It is recorded on one of the noble cemeteries in Bany Hassan 240 km south of Cairo that some Asians visited Egypt during the era of Twelfth Dynasty carrying their goods for sale in Egypt. These visits remind us with what is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an about the people who took Joseph and sold him in Egypt after the crime of his non-maternal brothers who felt jealous from him and throw him into a well:
“19. Then there came a caravan of travelers: they sent their water-carrier (for water), and he let down his bucket (into the well)…He said: “Ah there! Good news! Here is a (fine) young man!” So they concealed him as goods! But Allah knows well all that they do!
20. The (Brethren) sold him for a miserable price, for a few dirhams counted out: in such low estimation did they hold him!
21. The man in Egypt who bought him, said to his wife: “Make his stay (among us) honorable: maybe he will bring us much good, or we shall adopt him as a son.” Thus did We establish Joseph in the land, that We might teach him the interpretation of stories (and events). And Allah hath full power and control over His affairs; but most among mankind know it not”.
It also reminds us with the visit of Joseph’s brothers who came from Palestine to trade in Egypt:
“88. Then, when they (Joseph’s brothers) came (back) into (Joseph’s) presence they said: “O exalted one! Distress has seized us and our family: we have (now) brought but scanty goods: so pay us full measure, (we pray thee), and treat it as charity to us: for Allah doth reward the charitable“.
The messengers of God Joseph and Jacob
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, messenger Abraham came to Egypt in era of Senusret I, the second king of the Twelfth Dynasty, and then he married Hager. After that he got the son, messenger Ishmael from Mrs. Hager who carried her baby, migrated to Mecca and became the first person who re-established new life there and ruled over Mecca. Latter her son messenger Ishmael and messenger Abraham re-built holy Kaaba which was originally built by our father and messenger of God, Adam.
When messenger Abraham got the son messenger Isaac with Mrs. Sara when both of them were old.
Isaac’s son was messenger Jacob and Jacob’s sons were messenger Joseph and his brothers. Joseph is believed to have been the eleventh son of Jacob (Yaqoob), and his favorite. Of all of Jacob’s children, Joseph was the one given the gift of prophecy. Although the narratives of other messengers of God are mentioned in various surahs, the complete narrative of Joseph is given only in one surah, ‘Yusoof’. However, it is said to be the most detailed narrative in the Qur’an and bears more details than the Biblical counterpart.
Joseph was to Egypt at the end of the Twelfth Dynasty or at the beginning of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth dynasties who shared governance of the country at this stage that witnessed the division and chaos before the Hyksos seizing the throne of northern Egypt.
There is the theory that Hyksos did not enter Egypt by invasion but that they infiltrated and lived in the land of Egypt before seizing the throne of northern Egypt.Another theory says that it was a kind of invasion, but certainly the country before Hyksos was in chaos.
In the Holy Qur’an, in surah Yousef it is written:
“93. Go with this my shirt, and cast it over the face of my father: he will come to see (clearly). Then come ye (here) to me together with all your family.”
“99. Then when they entered the presence of Joseph, he provided a home for his parents with himself, and said: “Enter ye Egypt (all) in safety if it please Allah.”
We understand from these verses that Joseph asked his brothers to bring his parents and all the families, he waited for them at the border of Egypt and entered them safely. The entry of Jacob and his group and crossing the fortifications of Egypt is similar to the first theory of infiltration of Hyksos to the land of Egypt. And the Holy Qur’an told us that after Jacob and his group entered Egypt, his son Joseph raised him to the throne of Egypt:
“100. And he raised his parents high on the throne, and they fell down in prostration, (all) before him. He said: “O my father! This is the fulfillment of my vision of old! Allah hath made it come true! He was indeed good to me when He took me out of prison and brought you (all here) out of the Bedouin, (even) after Satan had sown enmity between me and my brothers. Verily my Lord understandeth best the mysteries of all that He planneth to do, for verily He is full of knowledge and wisdom.”
In history of ancient Egypt there was no any foreign king raised on throne of the country but the kings of Hyksos because the Egyptians were very careful to the purity of royal blood. That indicates that Jacob and the group who had come with him were themselves the Hyksos who afterwards made a lot of evils in the land of Egypt.
Messenger Jacob had another name – Israel which seems to be Egyptian prenomen name that the kings of ancient Egypt used to use in addition to their actual name. It is possible to divide the name Israel into three sections isr-ra-el. First two sections represent Egyptian symbols, but ‘el’ does not. Besides, it was found on one scarab that Hyksos king was named Yaqub-Har and Yaqub is the actual name of of the messenger Jacob in Arabic language and his prenomen name was Mer oser ra, but the times of his rule have been unknown.
Hyksos are known in history as ‘shepherd kings’ and that maybe comes from the Ancient Egyptian word ‘heqa shaso’ that means shepherd kings.
In the Qur’an there is evidence that Israelites had built infamous title of ‘the kings’ as the Queen of Sheba Balqees titled the people of Solomon (The Israelites) the kings.
In surah An-Naml it says:
“29. (The queen) said: “Ye chiefs! Here is delivered to me – a letter worthy of respect.
30. “It is from Solomon, and is (as follows): ‘In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful:
31. “‘Be ye not arrogant against me, but come to me in submission (to the true Religion).’”
32. She said: “Ye chiefs! Advise me in (this) my affair: no affair have I decided except in your presence.”
33. They said: “We are endued with strength, and given to vehement war: but the command is with thee; so consider what thou wilt command.”
34. She said: “The Kings, when they enter a country, despoil it, and make the noblest of its people its meanest thus do they behave.
35. “But I am going to send them a present, and (wait) to see with what (answer) return (my) ambassadors.”
Besides, messenger of God Mosses reminded his people that Allah made them kings as we can see in the surah Al-Maidah:
“20. Remember Mosses said to his people: “O my people! Call in remembrance the favour of Allah unto you, when He produced messengers among you, made you kings, and gave you what He had not given to any other among the peoples.”
The messenger of God Mosses
In the holy Qur’an, in surah Al-A’raf, God said talking about Pharaoh and his people:
“136. So We exacted retribution from them: We drowned them in the sea, because they rejected Our Signs and failed to take warning from them.
137. And We made a people, considered weak (and of no account), inheritors of lands in both east and west, – lands whereon We sent down Our blessings. The fair promise of thy Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel, because they had patience and constancy, and We destroyed what was Pharoah and his people doing and what they have erected.”
After the Pharaoh and his people were destroyed, God bestowed to Israelites the land and blessed that land for them. That land was the holy land of Palestine. This means that Palestine was part of Egyptian empire at the time when Pharaoh and his people were destroyed.
In surah Al-Shoara God says:
“53. Then Pharaoh sent heralds to (all) the Cities,
54. (Saying): “These (Israelites) are but a small band,
55. ”And they are raging furiously against us;
56. ”But we are a multitude amply fore-warned.”
57. So (God saying about Pharaoh) We expelled them from gardens, springs (Palestine is characterized by springs),
58. Treasures, and every kind of honourable position;
59. Thus it was, but We made the Children of Israel inheritors of such things.”
From the original, Arabic text it is obvious from this verses that just after Pharaoh’s death Egypt lost Palestine and after some time Israelites inherited it. That means that Israelites did not fight with Egyptians in order to invade Palestine, but with different people who took over the power in Palestine after the Pharaoh’s death. On the other hand it is important to know that inheritance of the rule over Palestine was not permanent and that it was delivered to other people as God said to his messenger David in the Psalms.
In surah Al-Anbiya God says:
“105. Before this We wrote in the Psalms, after the Message (given to Mosses): My slaves (worshipers) the righteous, shall inherit the land.”
106. Verily in this is a Message for people who would (truly) worship Allah.”
In surah Al-Esraa God promised to Israelites to bring them back to Palestine as a group out of different nations, but their end in Palestine will be miserable.
To present the story about messenger Mosses we must begin with the eighteenth dynasty after the wars between Egyptian kings of the seventeenth dynasty at the south of Egypt, with the conquest of Avaris, the capital of Northern Egypt, by Hyksos king Ahmose I, and with siege of castle at Sharuhen in Gaza, Palestine. King Ahmose I conquered Avaris, captured Hyksos and distributed them as slaves to the Egyptian soldiers. After that, Ahmose I began campaigns to Syria and Nubia (today, southern Egypt and Sudan) and the eighteenth dynasty kings continued the campaign to Levant (Syria and Lebanon) until the great King Thutmose III extended the empire from Nubia to Euphrates including Syria and Palestine (Canaan). He took the princes of conquered countries and brought them to his palace in Egypt. They lived together with his own children and, after they grew up they were very loyal to Egypt. They became legitimate rulers of Egypt as brothers in strongly unified empire under the leadership of Egypt.
Akhenaten, the ninth king of the Eighteenth Dynasty (or the tenth if we count Hatshepsut) was very tough and ugly man. Egyptian disliked him and the revolution against him bursted in Palestine. Local rulers of Egypt, who were loyal to the empire, requested Akhenaten to send Egyptian troops in order to quell the revolution. Akhenaten ignored these requests.
After the death of Akhenaten the Hebrews managed to take over the power in Palestine. Then, the king Seti I, the second king of the Nineteenth Dynasty started campaigns to return previously lost territories in Canaan (Palestine) and Levant. His son Ramsses II continued successful campaigns in Canaan and Levant in order to return them back to Egypt.
Ramsses II gathered small army and directed to expel the Hittites from some areas in northern Syria. He expelled them from Amurru and Dapur, then the Hittites followed the policy of attack. After some time Ramsses II managed to completely break their forces. Also he claimed to have last fought the last battle without bothering. He held a peace treaty with Hittites who, after the wars with Egyptian army, disappeared from the history. So, Ramsses II managed to restore the Egyptian empire as it was in era of Akhenaten. He tried to get back the confidence of Egyptian people by imaging Egyptian gods sitting beside him on the throne of Egypt. He also built great constructions and exposed himself to be absolutely greatest king in history.
Egyptian empire stayed stable till the era of Ramsses III, the second king of twentieth dynasty who stated in Harris Papyrus that he has built temple of of the god Amun in Canaan, in Zahi land.
The sea people attacked Egypt during Ramsses III era, Egypt beat them and this people disappeared from the history.
Ramsses III made a mistake beating this people. He divided the union of the ‘sea people’ into small folks and distributed them in different lands so this people could not be loyal to Egypt.
Second mistake of Ramsses III was that he allowed to the peaceful migrants to stay in Egypt. They came with their customs and religions and so Egypt lost the harmony and union. The successors of Ramsses III found great difficulty to control Egypt, they lost their respect inside and outside Egypt.
A hundred years after the death of the messenger Joseph, the rulers of Egypt passed a decree that a son born to an Israelite parent would be put to death; only daughters would be spared to serve the followers of Pharaoh. This was a ‘dreadful torment’ inflicted on Israelites.
During this dreaded era, Mosses was born; his mother was, however, commanded by God not to cast the child into the river on birth, but to suckle him till such time as she felt that there was real danger to his life.
For about three months she reared him and then she put him in a box and lay it in the river. God promised her that her child would be safe, that he would soon be restored to her, and that he would be made ‘one of our apostles’.
The box was carried by the River Nile to the banks close to the palace of Pharaoh. A servant of Pharaoh who was passing by picked up the box and took the child to the Queen. Pharaoh was informed, and he ordered that the child be put to death.
But the Queen, who was childless, was enchanted by the baby. She said, God had made him ‘such a lovely child that the beholder could not but love him’. She beseeched Pharaoh to spare his life. ‘Let us adopt him. He will be raised in our palace and would never know that he was an Israelite. He will be one of us and will, in fact, be useful in our fight against the Israelites.’
Pharaoh relented. The Queen took to Mosses as a mother would to her own new-born son. But the baby was restless and cried incessantly; no nurse was able to feed him.
Mosses’ mother, who felt utterly bereft without her child, had asked ten-year-old daughter to follow the course of her brother’s journey in the box, and to keep a watch on him. The little girl did as she was told. She entered the palace after the baby was taken there and managed to get close to the Queen, eventually gaining her confidence.
As the child became weak through lack of nourishment, she talked to the Queen of a ‘particular’ nurse who might be able to suckle the child, to feed him with great affection and to bring him up. ‘Thus’, says Allah in the Quran, ‘We restored Mosses to his mother, so that her eyes might be cooled and she would cease to grieve and would know that Allah’s promise was fulfilled.’
Mosses grew up in Pharaoh’s household under the benevolent care of the Queen. When he reached manhood, Allah ‘gave him the power of knowledge and judgement’. Once, while on a visit to the city, he saw two men fighting; one was an Israelite, the other an Egyptian. The Israelite asked Mosses for help, so Mosses came to the rescue and struck the Egyptian forcefully. The Egyptian collapsed and died instantly.
Mosses was most perturbed and asked God for forgiveness, saying, ‘I shall never come to the help of those committing wrong.’ The next morning, the man he had helped again called out for assistance. Mosses realized that he was a quarrelsome person and rushed to lay his hands on him. ‘Do you intend to kill me as you had killed the man yesterday?’ the man shouted. ‘Do you wish to become a tyrant in the land?’
Mosses prayed to the Lord. ‘Oh, my Lord, save me from such people who are given to wrongdoing.’ Then a man came running and informed Mosses that Pharaoh’s chiefs were planning to hang Mosses and advised him to run away.
So Mosses left Egypt in the direction of Madyan, praying to the Lord to guide him to the right path. On reaching the waters of Madyan, he saw a number of men drawing water for their animals, while two women stood by quietly, holding back their animals. Mosses asked them why they were waiting.
They replied, ‘We cannot water our animals until the men have left; that is our misfortune. Our father could not come to draw water for our animals as he is too old.’ Mosses drew water for both of them, and the women were grateful for his help. One of them went home and informed her father of what Mosses had done. The father asked her to fetch Mosses so that he might pay him the wages for the work.
Mosses told the old man the circumstances under which he had had to leave Egypt. ‘Have no fear anymore’ he assured Mosses, ‘It is good you have escaped from those wicked people.’ He was impressed by Mosses and offered one of his daughters in marriage, provided Mosses promised to live with them for eight years, or even longer if he so wished. Mosses agreed and started his life in Madyan.
After eight years, Mosses left with his wife and family. On their journey he saw a fire in the direction of Mount Tur. He made his family halt there, while he ran towards the fire hoping to obtain some information about the neighborhood, or at least get a burning firebrand to keep his family warm.
When Mosses reached the spot he heard a voice from above the trees on the right side of the sacred valley. ‘What have you in your right hand?’ the voice said. Bewildered, Mosses replied: ‘It is my staff, with which I bring down the leaves for my sheep and do many other things.’
The voice spoke again: O Mosses, I am the Lord of the Universe. Cast down your staff and listen to me. (Surah Ta-Ha; verse: 19)
Mosses threw it down, and there before his eyes it became a writhing serpent. The Lord spoke again: Draw near it and fear not: now seize the serpent and do not be afraid. It will become a staff again. (Surah Ta-Ha; verse: 21)
Mosses did as he was told. God then asked him to place his right hand into his bosom and to bring it out again; it was shining white and without any stain. God then blessed him with supreme revelations and commanded him to go to Pharaoh and his people and to preach to them the Oneness of God and the glory of righteous conduct.
Mosses prayed to God: Oh my Lord, enlarge my heart and strengthen me by curing my speech so that people may understand what I say. Also lighten my burden by assigning Aaron, my brother, to assist me. (Surah Ta-Ha; verse: 25-32)
The Lord granted his prayer and asked him to proceed with His Signs: Go, you, O Mosses and your brother, with Our Signs to Pharaoh. Speak gently to him but make him see the truth and fear Us. (Surah Ta-Ha; verse: 43-44)
Mosses and Aaron told the Lord that Pharaoh might subject them to violence, as Mosses was wanted by his chiefs for killing one of their men.
The Lord assured them not to have any fear in their hearts: I am with you; I hear and see everything. Tell Pharaoh that you are My messengers. Ask him to let the Israelites be with you, and to torture them no more. (Surah Ta-Ha; verse: 46-47)
Armed with the divine mission and the Book that was sent down to him which was to be the ‘means of enlightenment to the people and a guidance and mercy to mankind’, Mosses left for Egypt with Aaron. They first went to the people and asked them to worship the true God. Mosses showed them His Signs, but the people dismissed these as ‘nothing but false magic’ and laughed at him.
He asked them to sacrifice a cow as an offering to God. ‘What sort of cow?’ they asked him in jest. Mosses told them that God wanted a cow which was neither young nor old but of middle age. ‘What about its color?’ they asked. Mosses said it should be deep and bright yellow. There were several cows of this color, they told Mosses.
He clarified that it should be a cow that was neither yoked nor had ploughed any field; further, it was to be of sound mind and wholesome body. The people then realized what Mosses meant; he wanted them to kill the golden cow that they and their forefathers had been worshipping. They asked Mosses first to approach Pharaoh, their King, and if he agreed, they too would follow him.
Mosses approached Pharaoh and appealed to him to give up his arrogance and high and mighty ways and to bow before the Lord, who was indeed the ruler of the world. Purify yourself, O Pharaoh, so that I may guide you to the right path. (Surah Al-Ankaboot; verse: 18)
Pharaoh was furious and asked Mosses who was this God of his, whose messenger he claimed to be. Mosses replied: Our Lord is the one who creates all things; He gives them form and then guides them. (Surah Ta-Ha; verse: 50)
Pharaoh enquired about the generations that had passed away. Knowledge of them, Mosses said, was with God alone. He then asked Pharaoh to look around and see the variety of God’s creations — the rain, the wind, the cattle and the plants, all were the signs of His supremacy. Pharaoh asked Mosses whether he had any proof of his prophethood. Mosses threw down his staff and it became a live serpent. He then drew his hand out of the pocket of his cloak, and it shone with dazzling brightness.
Pharaoh’s chiefs said Mosses was no more than a magician; they told Pharaoh: ‘Call the best of magicians from our cities to counter his magic’. Mosses agreed to face them, and the Festival Day was fixed for the event. Two of the best magicians confronted Mosses. They threw their ropes and staves at Mosses, which turned into serpents and coiled around him.
Mosses prayed to his Lord for help. The Lord told him not to lose nerve, and commanded: Throw your staff down and it will swallow everything which they have faked here; theirs are only magic tricks, what you have is real. No magician ever thrives, whatever he may do or wherever he may go. (Surah Ta-Ha; verse: 69)
Mosses threw his staff on the ground and it turned into a bigger serpent which swallowed all the other serpents. The magicians were wonderstruck and at once prostrated themselves, declaring that they believed in the God of Mosses and Aaron.
Pharaoh thundered with rage: ‘How dare you do so without my leave?’ He warned them that he would cut off their hands and feet on alternate sides and crucify them on the trunks of palm trees if they did not desist from following Mosses.
The magicians showed no fear and told Pharaoh that he could do what he liked with them but they would not retract from the clear path shown by Mosses. They believed that his God was superior to Pharaoh. They asked for the forgiveness of the Lord for the sins of sorcery that Pharaoh had compelled them to commit.
Pharaoh grew more furious, and decided to wipe out every trace of the teachings of Mosses. He issued a proclamation: O my people, I am the sovereign of Egypt; even rivers flow beneath my feet. Are you to listen to a man who cannot even speak properly? If he is really the Almighty’s messenger, why is he not loaded with gold or attended upon by angels? (Surah Az-Zukhruf; verse: 51-53)
Mosses warned him that, if he disobeyed his call, ‘we have been told by Allah that a grievous punishment awaits you.’ But Pharaoh and his men paid no heed to Mosses’ warning.
Thus they were struck by the plague and other diseases; they begged Mosses to save them from the scourge. But no sooner were they cured than they went back to the worship of Pharaoh. Two of Pharaoh’s chiefs, Qaran and Haman, behaved particularly abominably; greed for wealth and lust for power blinded their vision.
With the passage of time, the attitude of Pharaoh towards Mosses worsened: he denounced him publicly and tortured his followers. He declared that there was no other god except him. He told Haman: ‘Build me a high tower, so that I may go to the top and find out who this God of Mosses is.’
He ordered his chiefs to show no mercy to Israelites; they should be driven out of Egypt. A reign of terror was unleashed. As a result, many of Mosses’ people left him, while only a few remained as his followers. But Mosses was not dismayed; he remained steadfast in the pursuit of his faith.
Then God came to Mosses’ rescue. He was told to gather his followers and take them through the midst of the seas, on a path that would be specially carved for them by God. Pharaoh and his men, fully armed, attempted to pursue them along the same path. As soon as Pharaoh and his men set foot on the path, however, it vanished, and they were drowned in the raging seas.
Israelites then settled in a secure habitation provided with all amenities and comforts.
This is where we shall finish our narration. The story of the messengers of God who were somehow related to Egypt has not been completed by this article. The topic has just been introduced with four focal points, four messengers of God: Abraham, Jacob, Joseph and Mosses. Egypt for sure belongs to part of the world that played crucial role in human history.
Everyone needs a travel bucket list. It is fun to surf the web and read about great places to visit, but that alone will still feel like something is missing. You have to have your own personal experiences. Get off the sofa and make your own memories. Consider all the beauty and mystery that Egypt has to offer. There are five places that you must see when planning a trip to this amazing land.
The Pyramids of Giza
In the city of Cairo, Egypt stands the Great Pyramid of Giza.It’s a 481-foot-tall man-made structure that must be experienced in person. It’s ancient, awe inspiring, and identifiable as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Along the Giza plateau is also the massive sandstone statue of the Sphinx. What would it be like to see these remarkable sites?
Luxuries of Luxor
A tour of the Temple of Karnak is a must see in Egypt. The city holds one of the most impressive collections of antiquities in the whole world. Soak up the beauty of the region on a river cruise on the Nile River and get a rare glimpse of this vast city. You can also go on an expedition through The Valley of the Kings, and The Valley of the Queens. This desert land can be extremely hot so remember to bring lots of bottled water and stay hydrated.
Alexandria the Great
On the Mediterranean coast of Egypt is the city of Alexandria. Take your time if you’re visiting this grand city.There is the National Museum, The Catacombs, and the massive Library of Alexandria. Explore the underground tombs and even learn about the history and culture of some important Egyptian people and artifacts.
The Spices of Aswan
Aswan is known as the ‘the market’ because of the trade route between Egypt and the southern lands. This is the place to go shopping. You can purchase rare spices of the area-and even gold and ivory for an extra special gift or travel souvenir. Take a tour of the Botanical Gardens on Kitchener Island, or sightsee around one of the numerous temples or the Nubian Museum.
The Red Sea Coast
Hurghada is a popular tourist destination. It’s a place to satisfy the outdoor adventurer. There are mineral springs, camping, sailing, deep sea fishing, and snorkeling in the pristine waters. There are coral reefs and rare fish you can view on glass bottom boat tours. Visit one of the offshore islands, like MarsaAlam and relax at one of the private resorts.
Being prepared when travelling is important, so consider learning some Arabic before going from Arab Academy. There are over two hundred million people who speak the Arabic language in the world, so it can be very useful to know some Arabic when traveling to Egypt. It will enrich and enhance your trip while seeing all of the wonder and beauty that Egypt has.
A trip to Egypt!!
It’s no wonder why one would want to visit Egypt. Between the ancient temples and monuments, the world- famous Pyramids, the beautiful red- sea and a unique culture and language, Egypt is one of the world’s great marvels. Here are some things to consider before you embark on your journey:
Climate: Egypt is hot, like Las Vegas or Arizona which is why it’s not recommended to go from June- August. If you plan to visit in the spring, temperatures are nice; however it can be very windy. September- February is quite possibly the best time to go, but it’s also high season for tourists.
Passports: A passport and visa are required to enter Egypt. Tourists can obtain a renewable 30-day tourist visa on arrival at an Egyptian airport for a $15 fee. For more information, visit the Arab Republic of Egypt Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Money: The conversion rate is $1= 6.03 Egyptian pounds. ATM cards can also be used in major cities, as can Visa and Mastercards. Carry some extra cash at all times for tipping. Keep you money close to your body or in a safe area to avoid getting pick pocketed at all times.
Culture: Egypt is a Muslim country, so naturally there are things you need to respect about the people and culture before you go. Public Affection is a no- no. No kissing in public. If you are a woman, don’t be over- friendly to men and wear sunglasses to avoid direct eye contact with men so you aren’t receiving unwanted attention. Also women’s shoulders and upper arms should be covered. Loose pants or long skirts are your best bet and high heels are not recommended (mostly because of all the walking you’ll be doing).
Shopping: Use bartering skills. Many of the items people will try to sell you will be 3 times the amount they are worth. Be okay with walking away and saying “no thanks.”
Taxi: Ask the front desk at the hotel/restaurant for a taxi. These people know taxi drivers they trust.
Water: Drink bottled water and drink a lot of it.
Language: Arabic is the official language of Egypt. You can learn the Arabic alphabet through our website or simply brush up on common phrases. Egyptians will appreciate you trying to speak their language.
Hi! ……. Salam!
How are you? ……. Kaifa haloka/ haloki ( female)
Good bye! ……. Ma’a salama
I’m lost ……. Ada’tu tareeqi!
How much is this? ……. Kam howa thamanoh? (th as in bath)
Laws: Like in America, it’s illegal to drink in the streets and you can only drink at places that have the equivalent of an Egyptian liquor license. Don’t take any photos of military sites or officials and respect the Muslim culture.
The great thing about traveling to other places, especially Egypt is that you’ll learn a whole new way of life, habits and a different mentality. While respecting the differences from your own culture you will gain a great appreciation and passion for life.
Popular Arabic Cuisine
While Arabic cuisine differs greatly from region to region, there is one ingredient that no meal can go without: hospitality. Most meals in this area are as much about being hospitable and generous with others as they are about the actual menu. There are some customs at the table, too, and when you learn the Arabic language you’ll know just what to say (and how to say it) to make sure you enjoy the whole experience. Of course, over the years, Arabic cuisine has developed a very unique flavor that features the best of Mediterranean, Middle Easten, and Indian influences. Many of the most common dishes served in this area make use of ingredients not often used in the United States. This could include everything from lentils and fava beans to sesame seed oil and saffron. Some of these ingredients are just starting to become more popular in the west, but experiencing real Arabic cuisine is an experience you don’t want to miss. Common Foods and Dishes A lot of the cuisine in these areas will be filled with various fruits and vegetables. Most of the fruits are of the citrus variety, but the vegetables can include everything from cucumbers and eggplant to green beans and zucchini. Meats are also common in many dishes, but it is most often lamb or chicken. (Muslim Arabs don’t eat pork or drink alcohol, so you won’t see those very often except in the regions where other denominations live.) Tea is usually the most popular beverage in the area and is consumed quite regularly. Of course the exact type of tea is also dependent on the region, with places like Egypt serving a black and sweet tea while in Yemen you might be more likely to enjoy a milk tea. On the dairy side, you are likely to see a lot of yoghurt and white cheese. The yogurt of the region is made from sheep, cow, or goat milk, and it might be diluted with water to create a refreshing beverage or thickened to make it a tasty condiment. Most importantly, though, is the delicious bread which is pretty much an essential element of any table setting. There are a huge variety of breads, and they may be mixed in with other dishes or simply set out as a side, but it is almost always there and always tasty.
Some Regional Differences Arabic cuisine has been influenced by many different cultures, and the resulting specialty dishes of these regions have their own unique characteristics. In Egypt, for example, the cuisine leans vegetarian, and you can try the classic falafel or kushari. Sudan, on the other hand, usually goes pretty heavy on the spices, and their “mullah” is a very flavorful stew you won’t forget. And in Yemen you’ll find less emphasis on dairy, and you can try the saltah, a meaty dish filled with many different ingredients.
A Cultural Experience One of the best ways to start experiencing a culture is to sample the cuisine. Your Arabic course will get you started, teach you the language and some of the history, but don’t miss out on your chance to try something from the region for yourself. A lot of people are hesitant to try foods that are a little different from their everyday menu, but it’s a great first step into a different culture and some incredibly tasty cuisine.
During the last week of October, Muslims all around the world will celebrate Eid al-Adha (the Greater Eid). Eid al-Adha is an important religious feast celebrated annually on the 10th day of the Islamic Month Dhu al Hijjah; it starts after the Hajj (the annual pilgrimage to Mecca by Muslims) and lasts for 4 days. Islamic and Arab countries announce official holiday during those days.
Muslims and Arabs keep several traditions during this Islamic festival; they dress up with their finest clothes and go to mosques to pray the Eid prayer and visit their families and friends. Those Muslims who can afford, sacrifice an animal and distribute third of its meat on the poor, usually it is a cow or a goat or sheep depending on the region. Distributing meat amongst people, making contributions to the poor, charity work and families’ visits are prominent traditions of this festival.
In Egypt it is no different than any other Muslim country, however there is one special thing that is common in all Egyptian homes but not anywhere else which is the iconic meal of “Egyptian Fatta”. Egyptian Fatta is a ruling dish in Eid al-Adha, and consists of meat, rice, bread and red sauce.
You can uncover more about Islam, Arabic culture and traditions when you learn Arabic. Learning the Arabic language will open you up to the deep and rich world of Islam. You can spend a summer, semester, or full year abroad practicing your Arabic language skills and learning firsthand about Arab culture. At Arab Academy, our on-campus students had the chance to live this formidable Islamic festival while taking Arabic lessons. They learnt how to cook the Egyptian fatta on the hands of one of Egypt’s many talented chefs.
Arabic Speaking Countries of the World
Learning Arabic can open up doors for you all over the world. Currently, Arabic is the fifth most spoken language in the world, and is the official language of over 20 countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Some estimates say that more than 200 million people call Arabic their first language and each of their countries are home to a fascinating cultural heritage.
Just of few of the countries that list Arabic as the official language include:
- United Arab Emirates
There are also many countries that don’t list Arabic as the official language, but large portions of the population still speak it as their first language. Beyond those countries, Arabic is also an official language of groups like the United Nations, the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference, and the African Union.
Seeing It for Yourself
These countries all have an amazing history, and their cultural influence is felt throughout the world. When you start taking Arabic lessons, a major part of the world can open up for you. Many of these nations are fast-growing market for international trade and travel, and when you can speak the language, you will find that your entire experience with the country will change. You will be able to speak with real people and see for yourself what it’s like in these countries.
Where would you go if so many options were suddenly open to you? Would you see the pyramids in Egypt, or would you tour some of the famous locations in Israel? The people, art, music, food and entertainment in these countries are very diverse, and you could spend a lifetime just becoming familiar with one of those cultures. The first step to immersing yourself in these countries and their cultures is to build a foundation with the language, and the next one is to go there and see it all yourself.
Muhammad Anwar al-Sadat was the third President of Egypt, serving from 15 October 1970 until his assassination by fundamentalist army officers on 6 October 1981.
As president he led Egypt in the October War of 1973 to liberate Egyptian territory occupied by Israel. Afterwards he engaged in negotiations with Israel, culminating in the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty. This won him the Nobel Peace Prize but also generated considerable domestic opposition, especially among fundamentalist Muslim groups, that eventually led to his assassination.
While learning Arabic, you will learn more about the history of the Arab nations and their leaders. You will be able to explore the Arabic culture and politics through interactive Arabic lessons tutored by native Arabic-speaking teachers.
Sakkara is best known for the Step Pyramid, the oldest known of Egypt’s 97 pyramids. It was built for King Djoser of the 3rd Dynasty by the architect and genius Imhotep. Imhotep was the first to build stone tombs in honor of the king’s majesty.
The Step Pyramid was planned with six stacked terraces (or mastabas) of large stone blocks and was originally encased in polished white limestone.
Egypt’ is very rich with touristic sites like Sakkara and the Pyramids of Giza; students from all around the world visit Egypt in order to learn Arabic and at the same time visit these breathtaking sites. Not only do students travel to Egypt to have Arabic courses, but also tourists, curious backpack-travelers, Middle-Eastern postgraduate students and Egyptologists visit Egypt wishing to explore the country and its old history.
The White Desert in Egypt is one of the most beautiful places in the world. The desert has a white, cream color and a massive chalk rock formations that have been created as a result of occasional sandstorms in the area. It is totally safe to stay overnight. The only animal you may see (if you are lucky) is the small desert fox that will come late at night and eat the leftovers of your dinner.
Opened to the public in 2005, the gardens of al-Azhar are reminiscent of historical Islamic gardens, with a blend of modern and traditional elements. The central terraced formal gardens, emphatic use of fountains, Mamluk multicolored stonework, sunken gardens, intersecting waterways and bold Islamic geometry are all integrated into a contemporary site design. There are over 325 different plant species – many native to Egypt and grown in a special nursery. If you decided upon taking an Arabic course, you will learn a lot about Islamic history with its charming and inspirational details.