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'Amr ibn al-'As
'Amr ibn al-'As
(Arabic: عمرو بن العاص‎; c. 585 – 6 January 664) was an Arab military commander who is most noted for leading the Muslim conquest of Egypt
Muslim conquest of Egypt
in 640. He was contemporary of Muhammad
Muhammad
and one of the Sahaba
Sahaba
("Companions") who rose quickly through the Muslim
Muslim
hierarchy following his conversion to Islam in the year 8 AH (629). He founded the Egyptian capital of Fustat
Fustat
and built the Mosque of Amr ibn al-As
Amr ibn al-As
at its center.

Contents

1 Biography

1.1 Early life 1.2 Muhammad's era 1.3 Under Abu Bakr
Abu Bakr
and Umar 1.4 Later life 1.5 Battle of Siffin 1.6 Amr as Mu'awiyah's arbiter at the Battle of Siffin

2 Criticism 3 See also 4 References 5 Further reading

Biography[edit] Early life[edit] ʻAmr belonged to the Banu Sahm[1] clan of the Quraysh. Assuming he was over eighty years old when he died, he was born before 592. 'Amr ibn al-'As was born in Arabia in the city of Mecca
Mecca
and died in Egypt. al-'As ibn Wa'il (Arabic: العاص بن وائل) was the father of 'Amr ibn al-'As
'Amr ibn al-'As
and Hisham ibn al-A'as. He was a part of Hilf al-Fudul[1]. Before his military career, ʻAmr was a trader, who had accompanied caravans along the commercial trading routes through Asia and the Middle East, including Egypt.[2] 'Amr was a shrewd, highly intelligent man who belonged to the nobility of the Quraysh. He fought with the Quraysh against Islam
Islam
in several battles. As he went to fight the Muslims, he saw them praying, got highly interested and tried to find out more about Islam. He was determinedly hostile to Islam. In fact he was Quraysh’s envoy to the Negus, the ruler of Abyssinia. Once he converted to Islam
Islam
with Khalid ibn al-Walid, he became a great commander fighting for the Islamic cause. The first mosque to be built in Africa was erected under his patronage and is still known as The Mosque of Amr ibn al-As. He came to Egypt
Egypt
as the commander in chief of the Muslim
Muslim
Arab troops in 650 AD.[citation needed] Muhammad's era[edit]

v t e

Campaigns of Muhammad

Ghazwah (expeditions where he took part)

Abwa Buwat Safwan Dul 1st Badr Kudr Sawiq Qaynuqa Thi Bahran Uhud Asad Nadir 2nd Nejd 2nd Badr Jandal Trench Qurayza Lahyan Mustaliq Treaty Khaybar Fadak Qura Dhat Baqra Mecca Hunayn Autas Ta'if Tabouk

Main article: List of battles of Muhammad Like the other Quraysh chiefs, he opposed Islam
Islam
in the early days. ʻAmr headed the delegation that the Quraysh sent to Abyssinia to prevail upon the ruler, Aṣḥama ibn Abjar
Aṣḥama ibn Abjar
(possibly Armah), 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
Muhammad
to Medina
Medina
ʻAmr took part in all the battles that the Quraysh fought against the Muslims.[3] He commanded a Quraish contingent at the battle of Uhud. He took with him his wife, Rayta bint Munabbih ibn al-Hajjaj, who was the mother of his son Abdullah.[4] ʻAmr ibn al-ʻĀs was married to Umm Kulthum bint Uqba[5][6] but she died only one month after their marriage. In the company of Khalid ibn al-Walid, he rode from Mecca
Mecca
to Medina where both of them converted to Islam
Islam
in 629-30. Abu Bakr, Umar and Abu Ubaidah ibn al Jarrah
Abu Ubaidah ibn al Jarrah
served under ʻAmr ibn al-ʻĀs in the campaign of Dhat as-Salasil and had offered their prayers behind him for many weeks. At that time, ʻAmr ibn al-ʻĀs was their chief not only in the army but also as a leader in religious services.[7] ʻAmr was dispatched by Muhammad
Muhammad
to Oman
Oman
and played a key role in the conversion of the leaders of that nation, Jayfar and 'Abbād ibn Al-Juland. He was then made governor of the region until shortly after Muhammad's death. There are some hadith regarding him and his father's will.[8] Under Abu Bakr
Abu Bakr
and Umar[edit] ʻAmr was sent by the Caliph
Caliph
Abu Bakr
Abu Bakr
with the Muslim
Muslim
Arab armies into Palestine following 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 Ajnadayn and Yarmouk as well as the siege of Damascus.

The Mosque of Amr ibn al-As
Amr ibn al-As
in modern-day Cairo

Following the success over the Byzantines in Syria, Amr suggested to Umar that he march on Egypt, to which Umar agreed. The actual invasion began towards the end of 639, as Amr crossed the Sinai Peninsula
Sinai Peninsula
with 3,500-4,000 men. He is reported to have celebrated the feast of pilgrimaga in Arish on 10th Dhul Hij A. H 18 or 12 December 640. After taking the small fortified towns of Pelusium (Arabic: Al-Farama) and beating back a Byzantine surprise attack near Bilbeis, Amr headed towards the Babylon Fortress
Babylon Fortress
(in the region of modern-day Coptic Cairo). After some skirmishes south of the area, Amr marched north towards Heliopolis, with 12,000 men reinforcements who had arrived on 6 June 640 reaching him from Syria, against the Byzantine forces in Egypt, under general Theodorus. The resulting Muslim
Muslim
victory at the Battle of Heliopolis brought about the fall of much of the country. The Heliopolis battle resolved fairly quickly, though the Babylon Fortress
Babylon Fortress
withstood a siege of several months, and the Byzantine capital of Alexandria, which had been the capital of Egypt
Egypt
for much of its 972-year existence, surrendered a few months after that. A peace treaty was signed in late 641, in the ruins of a palace in Memphis.[9] Despite a brief re-conquest by Byzantine forces in 645, after the Muslim
Muslim
victory at the Battle of Nikiou
Battle of Nikiou
the country remained firmly in Muslim
Muslim
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 Delta. However, Caliph
Caliph
Umar 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 Amr ibn al-As
Amr ibn al-As
still exists today in Old Cairo, though it has been extensively rebuilt over the centuries, and nothing remains of the original structure. One corner of the mosque contains the tomb of his son, 'Abd Allah ibn 'Amr ibn al-'As. Although some Egyptians did not support the Byzantine forces during the Arab conquest, some villages started to organise against the new invaders. After the Battle of Nikiou
Battle of Nikiou
on 13 May 641, Arab troops, having defeated the Byzantine forces, destroyed many Egyptian villages on their march to Alexandria
Alexandria
as the Delta rebelled against the new invaders. The Egyptian resistance seems to have been village by village without a unified command and therefore failed. After founding Fustat, Amr was then recalled to the capital (which had, by then, moved from Medina
Medina
to Damascus) where he became Mu'awiyah's close advisor. Muhammad
Muhammad
had told Amr "that when you conquer Egypt
Egypt
be kind to its people because they are your protégée kith and kin". Muhammad's wife, Mariyyah al-Qibtiyyah (Maria the Copt) was an Egyptian. After Amr ibn al-Aas conquered Egypt, he informed Mikakaus, the Patriarch of Alexandria, who retorted that "Only a prophet could invoke such a relationship!", referring to Abraham's marriage to Hagar[citation needed]. Later life[edit] After his military conquests, Amr was an important player in internal conflicts within the Islamic empire during the First Fitna.He played a role in the rise of Mu'awiyah, who reappointed him governor of Egypt. Amr died in Egypt
Egypt
in 664 during Mu'awiyah's reign. Battle of Siffin[edit] During the Battle of Siffin, Amr took all the Quran copies in Mu'awiya's army and raised them on spears[citation needed], upon seeing this most of Ali's army retreated claiming not to fight against the Quran, most of these people later became the kharigites[citation needed], among the people who understood this was a trick were Malik al-Ashtar, Qais ibn Sa'd and other trusted people that 'Ali knew[citation needed]. Amr as Mu'awiyah's arbiter at the Battle of Siffin[edit] Main article: Battle of Siffin Late in Amr's life, he was sent out on a mission from Mu'awiyah's camp to negotiate a deal after the battle of Siffin fought between Mu'awiyah and Ali. A first meeting was agreed upon by both parties, but no conclusion was reached. When Mu'awiyah was close to losing he stirred up political trouble for Ali
Ali
and pushed him to agree to another meeting.[10] Amr, taking this chance, made a pledge to Mu'awiyah that if he could defeat Ali
Ali
then he should be appointed governor of Egypt. Mu'awiyah agreed and sent Amr as his representative[11] In the framework of these negotiations both Mu'awiyah and Ali
Ali
agreed to accept the Qur'an as the base for the final judgment and appoint Abd Allah b. Qays Abu Musa al-Ash'ari as the arbiter for the Ali
Ali
camp and Amr as the arbiter for the Mu'awiyah camp.[12] If they did not find what they were looking for in the Qur'an, they would use the example or Sunnah
Sunnah
of the Prophet, consisting of the recorded actions from his life. Lastly, they decided that both Ali
Ali
and Mu'awiyah would follow through with whatever verdict came out of the negotiations.[13] This led Amr to attempt to buy out Abu Musa, saying that if he sided with Mu’awiyah he would give him governance over any province he wanted. Abu Musa rejected this offer. So Amr advised Mu’awiyah to continue blaming Ali
Ali
for the death of Uthman.[14] Amr argued that Mu’awiyah had a blood revenge for his tribe – this being the reason for the violence and distrust of Ali.[15] Both arbiters eventually agreed that neither Mu’awiyah nor Ali
Ali
were worth of the role of caliph.[16] This agreement was made in private between these two alone. As their choice was announced, people came together to hear the verdict. Amr let Abu Musa speak first: “O people, surely the best of men is he who is good to himself and the most wicked is he who is evil towards himself. You know full well that these wars have spared neither the righteous and the God-fearing, nor the one in the right, nor the one in the wrong. I have, therefore, after careful consideration, decided that we should depose both Ali and Mu’awiya and appoint for this affair Abdullah b. Umar b. al-Khattab, for he has neither stretched a hand nor drawn a tongue in a these wars. Behold, I shall remove Ali
Ali
from caliphate as I now remove my ring from my finger.”[17] Then it was Amr’s turn to speak: “Behold, this is Abd Allah b. Qays Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari , the deputy of the people of Yaman to the Messenger and representative of Umar b. al-Khattab and the arbiter of the people of Iraq; he has removed his companion Ali
Ali
from the caliphate. As for me, I confirm Mu’awiyah in the caliphate as firmly as this ring sits around my finger.”[18] This statement by Amr made Abu Musa upset because he said in secret that he would reject both of them as leader. This led to the fall of Ali’s power and the rise of Mu’awiyah as the leader of the Muslim empire, which would change the course of the Empire. Because of Amr’s support of Mu’awiyah, he was made the governor of Egypt.[19] Criticism[edit] In 2004, Egyptian screenwriter Osama Anwar Okasha called him "the most despicable character in history" for his dealings after the Battle of Siffin.[20] See also[edit]

List of rulers of Egypt Sunni view of the Sahaba List of expeditions of Muhammad

References[edit]

^ Britannica.com Archived 2 November 2007 at WebCite ^ Andrew Beattie, Cairo: A Cultural History, p. 94 ^ Witness-Pioneer.org Archived 28 October 2008 at Archive.is ^ Muhammad
Muhammad
ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah. Translated by Guillaume, A. (1955). The Life of Muhammad, p. 371. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ^ (in German) Eslam.de Archived 2 November 2007 at WebCite ^ (in German) Eslam.de Archived 2 November 2007 at WebCite ^ Al-Islam.org Archived 2 November 2007 at WebCite ^ see Sunan Abu Dawud
Sunan Abu Dawud
2877 Archived 23 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Beattie, p. 95 ^ Veccia Vaglieni, Il conflitto'Ali-Mu'awiyacla seccessions khanigita riesaminat alla lucedi fonti ibadite' in Annali dell'Istituto Universitario Orientale Napoli, N.S. IV 1-94 translated by Madelung, Wilferd ^ Marsham, Andrew (2012). "The Pact (Amāna) Between Muʿāwiya Ibn Abī Sufyān And ʿamr Ibn Al-ʿāṣ (656 Or 658 CE): 'Documents' And The Islamic Historical Tradition". Journal of Semitic Studies. 57 (1): 69–96. doi:10.1093/jss/fgr034.  ^ Ayoub, Mahmoud. The Crisis of Muslim
Muslim
History: Religion and Politics in Early Islam. Oxford: Oneworld, 2003. Print. ^ Al-Tabari. The History of Al-Tabari. Trans. G.R. Hawting. Vol. 16. New York: State University of New York, n.d. Print. ^ Holt, Peter Malcolm, et al., eds. The Cambridge History of Islam. Vol. 1. Cambridge University Press, 1977. ^ Madelung, Wilferd. The Succession to Muḥammad: A Study of the Early Caliphate. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997. Print. ^ Al-Tabari. The History of Al-Tabari. Trans. G.R. Hawting. Vol. 16. New York: State University of New York, n.d. Print. ^ Ayoub, Mahmoud. The Crisis of Muslim
Muslim
History: Religion and Politics in Early Islam. Oxford: Oneworld, 2003. Print. ^ Ibd ^ Wensinck, A.J.. "ʿAmr b. al-ʿĀṣ." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs. Brill Online, 2013. Reference. Augustana College. 9 October 2013 <"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 15 October 2013. > ^ el-Jesri, Manal (November 2004). "A roundup of the months news in arts and letters". Egypt
Egypt
Today. Archived from the original on 10 November 2004. Retrieved 25 April 2017. 

(10) Glubb J.B. The Great Arab Conquests. Quartet Books, London 1963

Further reading[edit]

Wikisource
Wikisource
has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article 'Amr-ibn-el-Ass.

Butler, Alfred J. The Arab Conquest of Egypt
Egypt
and the Last Thirty years of Roman Dominion Oxford, 1978. Charles, Robert H. (2007) [1916]. The Chronicle of John, Bishop of Nikiu: Translated from Zotenberg's Ethiopic Text. Merchantville, NJ: Evolution Publishing. 

Preceded by Muhammad
Muhammad
ibn Abu Bakr Governor of Egypt 658–664 Succeeded by Utba ibn Abi Sufyan

New title Governor of Egypt 640–646 Succeeded by Abdallah ibn Sa'ad

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 1106

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