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`AMR IBN AL -`AAs
Liberator of Egypt from Rome!
There were three from the Quraish who used to trouble the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) with the
fierceness of their resistance to his call and their torture of his Companions.
The Messenger called them and pleaded to his glorious Lord to inflict them with His punishment,
and while he was calling and inviting, he received the revelation of these noble verses: "The matter is not
in your hands, whether GOD turns to them or chastises them, for surely they are evil doers" (3: 128).
The Messenger's understanding of the verse was that he was to stop calling Allah to punish them
and to leave their affair to Allah alone. Either they would continue their wrongdoing and His punishment
would be inflicted upon them, or He would accept their repentance.
They repented, so His mercy reached them. `Amr Ibn Al-'Aas was one of these three. Allah had
chosen for them the path of repentance and mercy, so He guided them to Islam. He transformed `Amr
Ibn Al-'Aas into a Muslim fighter and into one of the brave leaders of Islam.
In spite of some of `Amr's positions, his point of view of which we cannot be convinced, he played
a role as a glorious Companion; he sacrificed and gave generously; he was a defender and combatant,
and our eyes and our hearts shall continue to open on his countenance, especially here in Egypt. Those
who see in Islam a glorious valuable religion and see in its Messenger a merciful gift and a blessed gift.
Those who see the truthful Messenger who called to Allah according to clear vision and inspired life
abundantly with its sensible conduct, forthrightness and devout piety. Those who carry this faith shall
continue with enhanced allegiance to look to the man whom fate made the cause - for whatever reason -
for the introduction of Islam to Egypt and the guidance of Egypt to Islam. So, blessed is the gift and
blessed is the gift giver.
That is he, `Amr Ibn Al-'Aas. The historians were accustomed to describing `Amr as the conqueror
of Egypt. However, I see in this description an underestimation and an overestimation. Perhaps a more
truthful description of `Amr would be that which we call him, "Liberator of Egypt". For Islam did not
conquer the country with the modern understanding of conquering, but it liberated it from the hegemony
of two imperial powers, two modes of worship of two countries, and the worst punishment, the imperial
power of Persia and the imperial power of Rome.
Egypt, in particular, on the day the advanced guard of Islam appeared, had been plundered by the
Romans, and its inhabitants were resisting without result. When the shouts of believing armies
reverberated over the frontiers of their country, "Allah akbaar! (Allah is the Greatest)" they hastened all
together, in a glorious crowd, toward the coming dawn and embraced it, finding in it liberation from
Caesar and from Rome.
So, `Amr and his men did not conquer Egypt but opened the way for Egypt to attach its destiny to
the truth, tie its fate to justice, and find itself and its reality in the light of the words of Allah and the
principles of Islam. He was careful to separate the inhabitants of Egypt and its Copts away from the army
and keep the fighting restricted between himself and the Romans who occupied the land and robbed the
wealth of its people.
On account of that, we find him talking to the Christian leaders of that day and their high priest. He
said to them, "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 to the people, so we call you to Islam. Whoever
responds is of us. He has what we have and he has the same rights and obligations as we do. And