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Amr ibn al-Ās ( ) (born c.583-589 - d. January 6, 664 CE) was an Arab military commander who is most noted for leading the Muslim conquest of Egypt in 640. He was a contemporary of Muhammad who rose quickly through the Muslim hierarchy following his conversion to Islam in the year 8 AH (629 CE). He founded the Egyptianmarker capital of Fustatmarker, and built the Mosque of Amr ibn al-Asmarker at its center — the first Mosque on the continent of Africa.


573? – 610: Early Life

He belonged to the Banu Sahm clan of the Quraish. Assuming he was over ninety years old when he died, he was born before 573.

He was the son of Layla bint Harmalah aka "Al-Nabighah". Before his military career, Amr was a trader, who had accompanied caravans along the commercial trading routes through Asia and the Middle East, including Egypt.

610 – 632 Prophet Muhammad's era

610: Rise of Islam

Like the other Quraysh chiefs, he opposed Islam in the early days.'Amr headed the delegation that the Quraysh sent to Abyssiniamarker to prevail upon the ruler of Abyssinia to turn away the Muslims from his country. The mission failed and the ruler of Abyssinia refused to oblige the Quraysh. After the migration of Muhammad to Madina 'Amr took part in all the battles that the Quraysh fought against the Muslims .

625: Battle of Uhud

He commanded a Quraish contingent at the battle of Uhud.

628: Treaty of Hudaybiyyah

Amr ibn al-ˤĀs was married to Umm Kulthum bint Uqba but he divorced her when she embraced Islam. She then re-married Umar ibn al-Khattab.

630: Conquest of Mecca

In the company of Khalid bin Waleed, he rode from Meccamarker to Medinamarker where both of them converted to Islam. He was seeking the right path to Medina and he became Muslim.

630: Dhat as-Salasil

Abu Bakr, Umar ibn al-Khattab and Abu Ubayda ibn al-Jarrah served under ˤAmr ibn al-ˤĀs in the campaign of Dhat as-Salasil and had offered their prayers behind him for many weeks. At that time, ˤAmr ibn al-ˤĀs was their chief not only in the army but also as a leader in religious services .

ˤAmr was dispatched by Muhammad to Omanmarker and played a key role in the conversion of the leaders of that nation, Jayfar and 'Abbād ibn Julanda. He was then made governor of the region until shortly after Muhammad's death.

There are some hadith regarding him and his fathers will:

632 – 634: Abu Bakr's era

ˤAmr was sent by the Caliph Abū-Bakr with the Arab armies into Palestine following Prophet Muhammad's death. It is believed that he played an important role in the Arab conquest of that region, and he is known to have been at the battles of Ajnadaynmarker and Yarmuk as well as the fall of Damascusmarker.

634 – 644: Umar's era

the success over the Byzantines in Syriamarker, Amrs suggested to Umar that he march on Egypt, to which Umar agreed.

The actual invasion began towards the end of 630, as Amr crossed the Sinai Peninsulamarker with 3,500-4,000 men. After taking the small fortified towns of Pelusiummarker (Arabic: Al-Farama) and beating back a Byzantine surprise attack near Bilbaismarker, Amr headed towards the fort of Babylonmarker (in the region of modern-day Cairomarker). After some skirmishes south of the area, Amr marched north towards Heliopolismarker, with reinforcements reaching him from Syria, against the Byzantine forces in Egypt, under Theodore. The resulting Arab victory at the Battle of Heliopolis brought about the fall of much of the country. The Heliopolis battle resolved fairly quickly, though Babylon Fortressmarker withstood a siege of several months, and the Byzantine capital of Alexandriamarker, which had been the capital of Egypt for a thousand years, surrendered a few months after that. A treaty of peace was signed in late 641, in the ruins of a palace in Memphismarker. Despite a brief re-conquest by Byzantine forces in 645 which was beaten at the Battle of Nikiou, the country was firmly in Arab hands.

Needing a new capital, Amr suggested that they set up an administration in the large and well-equipped city of Alexandria, at the western edge of the Nile River Deltamarker. However, Caliph Omar refused, saying that he did not want the capital to be separated from him by a body of water. So in 641 Amr founded a new city on the eastern side of the Nile, centered on his own tent which was near the Babylon Fortress. Amr also founded a mosque at the center of his new city—it was the first mosque in Egypt, which also made it the first mosque on the continent of Africa. The Mosque of Amrmarker still exists today in Old Cairomarker, though it has been extensively rebuilt over the centuries, and nothing remains of the original structure.

After founding Fustat, Amr was then recalled to the capital (which had, by then, moved from Meccamarker to Damascusmarker) where he became Muˤāwiyya's close advisor.

Muhammad had told Amr "that when you conquer Egypt be kind to its people because they are your protege kith and kin".[158664]

The Prophet's wife Maria Al Kibtya (the Copt) was an Egyptian. And Hagar the maidservent of Abraham and mother of Ishmael had come from Egypt. After Amr Ibn Al Aas conquered Egypt, he informed Mikakaus the Archibishop of the Copts who retorted that "Only a Prophet, could invoke such a relationship!"

Later life

After his military conquests, Amr was an important player in internal conflicts within Islam.Amr was originally a supporter of the caliph Ali, but later switched to the side of Muawiya. He died during Muawiya's reign.

Following the murder of Uthman bin Affan and the dispute between the supporters of Ali and the supporters of Muawiya as successors, Amr represented Muawiya in the arbitratin as opposed t Abu Musa AlAsh'ari who represented Ali.

Further reading

  • Butler, Alfred J. The Arab Conquest of Egypt and the Last Thirty years of Roman Dominion Oxford, 1978.
  • Charles, R. H. The Chronicle of John, Bishop of Nikiu: Translated from Zotenberg's Ethiopic Text, 1916. Reprinted 2007. Evolution Publishing, ISBN 978-1-889758-87-9. [158665]

See also


  1. [1]
  2. Sermon 179
  3. Andrew Beattie, Cairo: A Cultural History, p. 94
  7. ( ref)
  8. see Sunan Abu Dawud 2877
  9. Beattie, p. 95

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