Moustafa Gadalla is an Egyptian-American independent Egyptologist, who was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1944. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Cairo University.
Gadalla is the author of eleven internationally acclaimed books about the various aspects of the Ancient Egyptian history and civilization and its influences worldwide. He is the chairman of the Tehuti Research Foundation—an international, U.S.-based, non-profit organization, dedicated to Ancient Egyptian studies.
From his early childhood, Gadalla pursued his Ancient Egyptian roots with passion, through continuous study and research. Since 1990, he has dedicated and concentrated all his time to researching and writing.
Who are these Modern-day Egyptians?
The Islamic Siege of Egypt
Many people wonder about the contrast between the highly civilized society of ancient Egypt, and the hapless, chaotic state of modern-day Egypt. Modern-day Egyptians are also loath towards their ancient history, as if they don’t belong to their ancient Egyptian roots.
Because of such a contrast, many people invent answers that have absolutely no scientific and/or historical basis whatsoever. Here are some of the baseless statements:
The Moslem population of Egypt (about 90%) are Arab settlers from the Arab Peninsula (Saudi Arabia.) The Christian population (about 10%) are the true Egyptians, referred to as Copts, and the descendants of the ancient Egyptians.
The Moslem population of Egypt is of a mixed blood, of ancient Egyptian and the Arabs who invaded Egypt in 640 CE. The ancient Egyptian “blood” does not exist anymore.
Read the article, The Christian Copts of Egypt to find the true un-Egyptian origin of the Christian population of Egypt.
As for the Egyptian population status, let us examine the worst turning point in Egyptian history, which was the invasion of Egypt by the nomadic Arabs in 640 CE and the subsequent Islamic siege of Egypt.
Jihad: The Islamic Terrorism
The nomadic invaders walked unchallenged into a weakened country (as a result of the Roman/Byzantine occupation) that did not have an army to defend its borders. When the Romans (Byzantines) left, the gates were wide open.
In the name of Islam, the nomadic invaders forced both their religion (Islam) and their language (Arabic) on the hapless population of Egypt. The strong grip of Islam has been, and still is, the “invisible” dominating power in Egypt.
Jihad is one of the pillars of Islam, and it was by jihad that Islam spread throughout the world. Jihad is stated very clearly and unequivocally in the Koran itself. Islamic jihad is an obligation for every Moslem to practice. The Koran specifies the conditions of jihad, summarized as follows:
Any Moslem must try to convert others to Islam, and if they don’t listen to him (in other words, don’t convert), then he is allowed to kill their men and enslave their women and children, or enslave all of them. Islamic jihad was the means by which black Africans were enslaved and sold worldwide.
Jihad is also allowed as a form of “self defense”, or to use a common expression, “pre-emptive strike”. In other words, the Koran allows a Moslem who “feels” threatened or that his belief and way of life is “threatened” by others, in any way shape or form, to kill and destroy his “enemies” in a jihad. This is a free-for-all clause.
Any Moslem is allowed/authorized to declare a jihad, against another born-Moslem, if in their view, the other Moslem is not being a “good Moslem” and can be killed or enslaved. This is a free-for-all clause.
The Islamized Cancerous Community/Country
The terror of Islamic jihad caused a quick and massive conversion after Mohammed gained power in the Arab Peninsula. Yet the state of terror did not end there. In Islam, a person automatically becomes a Moslem because his father is a Moslem. S/he never has a choice. The Koran is very clear, that if a Moslem apostate, s/he is to be killed. As such, no born Moslem has the luxury of arguing/leaving his/her “Islamic birthright.”
Lacking opposition, the Moslem clergymen tell the population that Islam is rational, logical, scientific, etc. Contesting such claims is not allowed, and is considered blasphemy, punishable by death from any Moslem. Witness the case of Salman Rushdi, being a born Moslem, he therefore does not have the luxury of writing a book, which directly or indirectly blemishes Islam. Salman Rushdi is a wanted man, by any Moslem, for he dared to write what was construed as opposition to his “Islamic birthright.”
The Rulers (Afrangi) and the Ruled (Baladi)
The silent majority of Egyptians are called (and they call themselves) Baladi, meaning natives. The loud minority of Egyptians (high governmental officials, academicians, journalists, and the self-proclaimed intellectuals) are described by the silent majority as Afrangi, meaning foreigners.
The Afrangi are the Egyptian people who compromised the Egyptian heritage to gain high positions and approval of foreign invaders of Egypt. As a tool of foreign forces, like Arabs, the Afrangi rule and dominate the Baladi–the natives. The Afrangi are, like their foreign masters, arrogant, cruel, and vain. After foreign forces left Egypt, the Egyptian Afrangi continued their role as the righteous rulers.
It has been written and repeated, that the Ancient Egyptians accepted the domination of the Ptolemaic and Roman rules, that they had willingly changed their religious beliefs into Christianity, and a short time later, they willingly accepted Islam as a substitute for Christianity. Accordingly, many conflicting sides, who use Ancient Egypt to promote each’s own agenda, insist that the ancient religion and traditions have died. The truth is that they never died, and they continue to survive within the silent majority–the Baladi people of Egypt.
Because of the ironclad control of Islam over history writing since 641 CE, Moslem historians publicize that Egyptians forgot their identity and became a part of a big happy family called “Arabs”. No one can dare oppose the line that Islam saved Egypt from previous Gahe-Liya (ignorance era). As a result, we witness an intellectual state of terrorism that conceals realities into a cloud of dust by the dominating Afrangi Egyptians.
The Egyptian Baladi (natives) have suffered from foreign rule (including and especially the moslem/Arabs) for about 2,000 years. They learned to survive. They kept the old traditions under a thin exterior of Islam, in order to survive the foreigners and their Egyptian Afrangi.
To grow up in Egypt, one is taught to accept the Koran as the “Book from God”. Both the Koran and the Bible condemned ancient Egyptians’ beliefs and the Pharaohs. No historical fact can contradict the Koran. The whole world’s knowledge of Ancient Egypt is largely based on the biblical (koranic as well) accounts of interaction between the Hebrews and Egypt. And as our “view” is mostly from these sources, it is largely negative.
A conflict between historical facts and religious convictions is very dangerous indeed. Because of such religious fear and intimidation, most fellow Egyptians do not appreciate their own ancient history, and as a result, they suffer from a self-imposed identity crisis. It is no wonder that the Ancient Egyptian history is studied almost exclusively by non-Egyptians.
The Arab (Islamic) Egyptian Police State
Contrary to the popular notion that Egypt is a “secular” state, its laws and actions show otherwise. Most oppressive measures go unnoticed in the world public opinion. The authorities of Egypt, at its highest level, are engaged in a pitiful campaign against indigenous traditions. An example can be found in a news item that was published in Al-Ahram (the largest newspaper in Egypt), in their Friday edition of 21 Apr 2000. For Al-Ahram to publish this, and similar items, on a regular basis, is indicative of a scare tactic campaign to terrorize the defenseless population of Egypt.
The police department in Cairo continued its efforts to find the outlaws and those who practiced magic, charlatanism, etc, when they arrested a “charlatan” (61 years old) who performs zars (exorcism, etc) at her apartment in El Waylee, assisted by another 8 persons. The article goes on to say that the lady, whose name is Sadeeka Hasan Mohammed Gad, convinced her victims, especially young women, of her ability to solve their marital and health problems.
There were three of these young women present at dawn when the suspects were arrested.
This police operation was in accordance with directives from the First Lieutenant to the Interior (Police) Ministry, who ordered the intensification of finding people who practice magic, …etc.
The above is a sample of the activities used to impose Islam on the people of Egypt, and suppress the indigenous beliefs of the Egyptians. In a democracy, other people’s views and actions don’t need to make sense to the thugs of the Egyptian Interior (Police) Ministry.
Because of religious fear and intimidation, the Baladi (silent majority) Egyptians learned to camouflage their ancient traditions under an Islamic exterior. This is described in their common saying, “playing with an egg (traditions) and a stone (Islamic authority)”, so as not to break the fragile egg with the [tyranny] of the stone.
The Christian “Copts” of Egypt
Copt is derived from the Greek rendering for an Egyptian. The Arabs, after 640 CE, used that general term to label the non-Moslems. As a result, the term Copt took on a different meaning by the 7th century.
Researchers of Ancient Egypt assumed WRONGLY that the Christians in Egypt (so-called “Copts”) are the link between Ancient Egypt and our present time. On the contrary, the Christians in Egypt are NOT natives of Egypt, but a foreign minority. This situation is explained herein.
When Alexander died in 323 BCE, one of his generals, Ptolemy, son of Lagus, took charge under the nominal rulership of Alexander’s brother Philip Arrhidaeus. Upon Philip’s death, Ptolemy declared himself the ruler. His actions initiated a Ptolemaic Dynasty.
Their new settlement, along the Mediterranean coast, was predominantly Greek, which was officially described as being ad Aegyptum, not in Aegypto, i.e. it was an intrusion into an alien country.
In Alexandria, Greeks formed the bulk of the population, followed in number by the Jews.
Greek became the mother tongue of the Jews in Egypt. Many Jews had been imported as soldiers, even before the arrival of the Ptolemies. For example, the Persians had established a Jewish garrison, as far south as the island of Philae, which had left behind some records in Aramaic.
When Palestine fell under the control of Ptolemy I in 301 BCE, he brought back Jewish mercenaries, who joined the already-established communities in Egypt. Unable to speak their native tongue, Jews, living in Alexandria, soon felt a need to translate their sacred books into Greek. They persuaded King Ptolemy II (285-247 BCE), to order a Greek translation of the Bible.
The High Priest of Jerusalem sent 72 elders to Alexandria, six representatives from each of the twelve tribes of Israel, together with an official copy of the Pentateuch.
They worked for 72 days to produce the final copy of the Pentateuch in Greek. Later, the other books of the Old Testament were also translated into Greek by others, and the whole work became known as the Septuagint, which means The Seventy. Since the Greek text is older than the Hebrew text, it was therefore adopted as the Bible of the early Church.
Ptolemy compensated his mercenary troops (Syrians, Greeks, Macedonians, Persians and Hellenized Asiatics) by giving them tracts of land among the Egyptian population in towns near the capitals of the provinces, into which Egypt was divided.
These pockets of foreign settlements are exactly where the Christian population is concentrated in present-day Egypt.
Romans & Early Christians in Egypt
When the Romans arrived in Alexandria, they gave preferred treatment to the Jews. Augustus granted self-government to the Hellenized Jews of Alexandria. This caused great consternation among the Greeks, who had lived there for a longer period of time. The Romans reinforced foreign settlement, by bringing in more foreigners. The Jewish colony in Alexandria is said to have had a population of 1 million in the 1st century CE.
Christianity arrived early in Alexandria, from Judaea and Syria. After all, Christianity is basically a Judean offshoot. The Romans encouraged and facilitated more immigration from Syria to Egypt.
In 312 CE, Christianity was made the official and only religion of the Roman Empire. A short time later, the Roman Empire split. Egypt became part of the Eastern (or Byzantine) Empire in 323 CE.
The decree that there be only one religious system (Christianity), and that anything else is untrue, is dictatorial. It allowed Christian fanatics to destroy the native Egyptian religious rights, properties, and temples.
When Theophilus was made Patriarch of Alexandria in 391 CE, he displayed tremendous zeal in destroying ancient Egyptian temples. A wave of destruction swept over the land of Egypt. Tombs were ravaged, walls of ancient monuments scraped, and statues toppled. In Alexandria, the famous statue of Serapis was burned and the Serapeum destroyed, along with its library.
When Theophilus attempted to convert a temple of Dionysus in Alexandria into a church, rioting between non-Christians and Christians ensued, the former occupying the great Serapeum. The subsequent destruction of the temple was shamelessly advertised by Christians as symbolic of a great victory. It was a folly of fanaticism in the name of orthodoxy.
The same year (391 CE) saw the beginning of legislation that aimed to outlaw ancient Egyptian rites and to close the temples. The laws helped the fanatic Christians destroy other temples.
No rational mind can accept that such destructive behavior led to “convince” people to convert to any religion (Christianity), as advertised by the fanatics, no matter how rational it (Christianity) may appear to anyone.
The fanatic early Christians went on appropriating ancient Egyptian temples. In the 4th and 5th centuries, many ancient temples on the west bank of Ta-Apet(Thebes) were converted into monastic centers.
Hatshepsut’s Commemorative Temple was converted into Deir (monastery) el Bahari.
Ptolemy III Temple was converted into Deir el Medina.
The Commemorative Temple of Ramses III was given the Christian
name, “Medinat Habu”.
The Court of Amenhotep III in Luxor Temple, on the east bank of Ta-Apet(Thebes) was similarly violated.
In 415 CE under Theodosius II, Patriarch Cyril expelled the Jews of Alexandria from the city; and Hypatia, the learned and beautiful Neoplatonist, was cruelly murdered.
Christian mobs forcefully took a part of the Temple of Het-Heru(Hathor) at Dendera in the middle of the 6th century CE, and built a new church, which was constructed between the Birth House and the Coronation House, using some of the blocks from the Birth House.
Similarly, in Khmunu(Hermopolis) a Temple of Amon was occupied by Christians and had part of its interior turned into a chapel.
In addition to the violation of Ancient Egyptian temples, the fanatic Christians adopted a new script called the Coptic language — basically demotic Egyptian written in Greek characters with a few additional letters — from about 300 CE. A non-Egyptian alphabet was intended for the use of those non-Egyptians who were schooled in the Greek language. This move had the effect of re-emphasizing the cultural divide between them and the true native Egyptians.
The Greek characters are not any easier than the Egyptian demotic script, which is yet another indication that the Church emphasis was on the Greek-speaking population of Alexandria, Fayoum, and a few other colonies of foreigners.
Egyptian Demotic Script
There is no archaeological evidence, outside Alexandria, to substantiate the Christians’ overly exaggerated popularity claims.
Accepting Christianity is to accept the Bible, which condemns ancient Egypt and establishes the Jews as God’s “chosen people”. It is totally incompatible with Egyptian history, nature, and traditions.
Christian Family Feud
The history of the political and doctrinal struggles within the Church during and after the 4th century has largely been written in terms of the disputes over the nature of God and Christ and the relationship between them. A good deal of the turbulent history of Egypt in the 4th, 5th, and 6th centuries can be understood in terms of the struggles of the successive (or, after 570 CE, co-existing) patriarchs of Alexandria to maintain their position both within their patriarchy and outside it, in relation to Constantinople.
Monophysites had, from the first, espoused a doctrine of Christ, which placed the greatest possible emphasis on his divinity, and came near to denying that he had a human nature. In 449 CE, Dioscurus, the patriarch of Alexandria, refused to accept the Byzantine Christian doctrine. He believed that Christ is totally divine, and that it is blasphemous to consider Him human. And so, when the orthodox theologians of Rome and Constantinople agreed at the Council of Chalcedon, in 451 CE, that Christ was to be worshipped “in two natures inseparably united”, the Monophysite opposition contended that though Christ could be “out of two natures”, he could not be in two natures. The depth of feeling involved is perhaps best conveyed in the slogan of the Monophysite bishops at Chalcedon, which said, “Throw out the Nestorians. Christ is God”. As a result, in 451 CE, during the reign of the patriarch Dioscorus, the Monophysite Church in Egypt broke away from the Orthodox Church, and elected its own patriarch.
Since the Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE, each of the two Churches had its own separate patriarch and administration. These parties were distinguished by the familiar names Jacobite and Melkite or Royalist.
The Jacobites were by creed Monophysites, by race mainly, though not exclusively people born in Egypt, but of foreign descent (mistakenly thought of as native Egyptians); while the Melkites were orthodox followers of Chalcedon and for the most part of Greek or European origin.
The term Melkite, as employed in Egypt, is of a Syriac origin, and there is no anachronism in using it before the Arab conquest. This is an additional piece of evidence that the early Christians were using Syriac language and names, indicating their origin to be Syria/Palestine and not Egypt.
Syrian migration to Alexandria constituted the bulk of the early Christians in Egypt. They — the Christians in Egypt — continue to maintain physical and personal traits that are very Syrian. It is easy for native Egyptians, to this date, to distinguish a Christian (so-called ‘Copt’), just based on his/her body language and features, which reflects peculiar Syrian (non-Egyptian) traits.
The Persian Interlude (616-629 CE)
The spread of Persian power throughout Syria culminated in the conquest of Jerusalem (615 CE) and Persian hostility to Christians, which thrust more Syrian Christian refugees westward to Alexandria.
The total chaos in Egypt eased the path of the Persian conquerors to Egypt in 616 CE. It took the Persians three years to control Egypt and Pentapolis.
The period of occupation was concluded by a peace treaty and Persian withdrawal in 628 CE, and the return to Byzantine rule.
Cyrus: A Taste of their Own Medicine (631-642 CE)
After the death of the Melkite Patriarch George, Cyrus was sent as Imperial Patriarch to Alexandria in 631 CE. He was given both religious and civil authority.
The double succession of pontiffs was maintained, and it was the early policy of Heraclius to bring about a reconcilement between the two Christian factions.
Cyrus first tried a compromise between the two factions (Melkites and Monophysites). The proposed compromise backfired from both stubborn groups.
Cyrus had to restore order, on behalf of his Emperor, for the Monophysites had terrorized and destroyed those who merely didn’t agree with their fanatic interpretations. Cyrus forcefully imposed the 451 Council of Chalcedon decree.
Did Cyrus prosecute the Monophysites, or did they ask for his actions by rejecting him and his authority? By extension, they had been prosecuting the land and people of Egypt (their host) for several centuries, and ironically, Cyrus, the Christian, gave them a taste of their own medicine.
Christians’ Gift to Mohammed
In 627 CE, when Mohammed, the Islam founder, consolidated his power in the Arab Peninsula, and felt himself strong enough to challenge the submission of the rulers of the world to Islam, his new religion, he caused letters to be written to several neighboring rulers, including letters to George, wrongly called the Mukaukas, governor of Alexandria and the Melkite Viceroy of Egypt (621-631); to Chosroes, King of Persia; and to Heraclius, Emperor of the Romans. All contained the same claim of allegiance to Islam and to the Arabian prophet as Vicegerent of the Most High.
The Monophysites, who never had any loyalty to their host country of Egypt, manifested such disloyalty when the Christian Viceroy of Egypt promised to consider the message, and treated Mohammed’s envoy, Hatib, with all honor. The Christian Viceroy sent back with his reply some valuable presents, which included two Christian maidens (Mary and Shirin), the mule Duldul, the ass Nafur, and a bag of money.
Mohammed, who already had nine wives, fell in love with Mary. The Christian Mary became Mohammed’s sweetheart and bore him a son. The baby died under suspicious circumstances. Mary died in 636 CE.
In December 639 CE, Amr ibn el-As set out to conquer Egypt with a few thousand men. His task was relatively simple, because of the active support of the Christian Monophysites, the so-called Copts.
After less than two years of fights and political maneuvering between the Arab invaders and the Byzantines, Cyrus went to meet the Arab commander at Babylon near Cairo, and both signed a treaty on November 8, 641, which called for the total withdrawal of Roman soldiers, imposing a tribute of two dinars a head on all able-bodied males, and a tax on all landowners. The only parties to the treaty were the Moslem Arabs and the Christians, who passed along a country that was not theirs.
History books end the glorious era of Ancient Egypt at 640 CE, when the Christians in Egypt sold it out to the Moslem Arabs.