Amr Ibn Al-Aas was one of the glorious companions of Prophet Mohamed (PBUH). Before embracing Islam, he was one of the Quraish people who resisted Islam. After joining Islam, he became one of the brave leaders who became known for their great generosity.
Amr Ibn El-Aas and his soldiers entered Egypt in 640 AD and struggled with the Romans, who occupied Egypt and Syria and caused their people all sorts of misfortune. That is why, so many of the Egyptians preferred to return back and join the Islamic troops against the Romans, since they found in Islam the freedom and dignity that they have missed during the Byzantine ages to the extent that someone of the occupied people said: "The history did not realize more merciful invaders than the Arabs".
Amr was the one who liberated Egypt from the hegemony of two imperial powers, two modes of worship of two countries, that are, the imperial power of Persia and the imperial power of Rome. He was very careful about separating the citizens of Egypt and its Copts away from the army and keeping the fight restricted between himself and the Romans who occupied the land and robbed the wealth of its people.
He tried to convince some of the Christian leaders and their high priests to join the path of light by saying: "Indeed Allah sent Muhammad with the truth and ordered him to teach it. The Prophet carried out his mission, and he died after leaving us on that path, the clear straight path. Among the things he ordered us to do was to be responsible for people; hence, we call you to Islam. Whoever responds will be one of us and will have the same rights and obligations that we have. Others, who will not respond to Islam, will have to pay us the Jizyah and we have the right to defend and protect them against any danger. Our Prophet informed us that Egypt would be opened for us and so he advised us to be good to its people saying: 'Egypt will be opened to you after me, so you are advised to treat its Copts well, for indeed, they have a covenant of protection and kinship relations,' so if you answer to what we call you for, you will have protection and security."
As soon as Amr finished his speech, some of the priests and rabbis shouted saying: "Indeed the kinship that your Prophet advised you is a remote kinship relationship; the one which cannot be reached except from the prophets."
When Islam entered Egypt after the defeat of the Romans on the hands of the Arabs, most Egyptians converted to the new religion, while some others remained Christians. Although such conversion happened gradually throughout the years of Islamic rule, it came as a normal result of the Arabs' Islamic virtues that have attracted the attention of most Egyptian people.
Stories from Egypt
§ * A man from the Copts came to Umar ibn al-Khattab in Al-Madinah and said: “O Commander of the Faithful! I seek refuge in you from oppression.” Umar replied: “You have sought refuge where it is to be sought.”The Egyptian said: “I was racing the son of ‘Amr ibn al-’Aas, and I defeated him. Then he began to beat me with a whip saying: I am the Son of Nobles!”
As a result, Umar wrote to ‘Amr commanding him to come with his son. When they came to Umar he inquired: “Where is the Egyptian?" And then said: "the Egyptian has to take the whip and beat your son Amr!” Consequently, the Egyptian began actually to beat the son of ‘Amr with the whip while ‘Umar says to him: “Beat the Son of Nobles!”
Anas said, “So he beat him. I swear by Allah, as he was beating him, we all pitied his wailing. He did not desist until we stopped him.” Then Umar said to the Egyptian: “Now beat the whip upon ‘Amr’s bald head!” He replied: “O Commander of the Faithful! It was his son who beat me, and I have evened the score with him.”
Upon this Umar said to ‘Amr, “Since when do you enslave the people when their mothers bore them as free men?” He said, “O Commander of the Faithful! I was unaware of this, and he did not come to me (for justice).”
§ * Amr Ibn El Aas decided to increase the area of his mosque in Egypt and there was a house owned by a Christian woman in the area that he wanted to get it,, so he offered her money to leave her house, but she refused.
As a result of her refusal, Amr demolished the house and increased the mosque area. The Christian woman, in turn, have sent a message to Omar Ibn El Khattab telling him what happened.
Hence, Omar Ibn El Khattab asked Amr Ibn El Aas about the reasons that urged him to do such thing. Then Amr replied that he wanted to increase the mosque area and he offered the woman some money but she refused to take them.
Consequently, Omar Ibn El Khattab ordered Amr to demolish the increased area of the mosque and rebuild the house for the Christian woman. Amr Ibn El Aas obeyed Omar's words immediately and supervised the rebuilding of the house personally.
By Nouran Radwan