Caliphate, Featured, Foreign Policy

Conquest of Egypt: The Coptic Ruler’s daughter said: “I feel that my life and my honour are safe among the tents of the Arabs”

When Allah enabled the Muslims to conquer Bilbeis in Egypt, they found therein the daughter of the Egyptian ruler al-Muqawqis, whose name was Armanoosah. She was close to her father, but she was visiting the city of Bilbeis with her servant Barbara in an attempt to escape marriage to Constantine the son of Heraclius, whom she did not want to marry. When some of the Muslim army managed to capture Armanoosah, Amr ibn Al-As, the Amir of Jihad in Egypt, gathered the Sahabah together and reminded them of the words of Allah:

هَلْ جَزَاءُ الْإِحْسَانِ إِلَّا الْإِحْسَانُ

“Is there any reward for good other than good?” (Ar-Rahman, 55:60)

Then he said: ”Al-Muqawqis sent a gift to our Prophet*; I think we should return his daughter to him, and all of her servants and entourage whom we have captured, and their wealth that we seized.” They agreed to that. So ‘Amr sent her back to her father with honour; along with all her jewels and male and female slaves. Her servant Barbara said to her during the journey: “0h my mistress, the Arabs are surrounding us on all sides.” Armanoosah said, “I feel that my life and my honour are safe among the tents of the Arabs, but I do not feel safe in the palace of my father.” When she reached her father, he was very pleased with her and the way that the Muslims had treated her.

Dr Ali Muhammad as-Sallabi, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab his life and times,’ Vol. 2, p. 315


* The Prophet ﷺ sent a letter to Al-Muqawqis inviting him to Islam, and in response Al-Muqawqis sent gifts along with an accompanying letter back to Medina.

The Prophet’s ﷺ letter to Al-Muqawqis:

“In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Beneficent.

From Muhammad ibn Abdullah to Al-Muqawqis, the chief of the Copts.

Peace be to those who follow right guidance. I wish to convey to you the message of Islam. Accept Islam and you will be safe. Accept it and Allah will double your reward. Should you turn your back on it, you will bear the responsibility for the Copts. People of earlier revelations, let us all come to a fair agreement among ourselves that we shall not worship anyone but Allah, and that we will never ascribe divinity to anyone else, and that none of us will give others the status of Lord alongside Allah. If they refuse, say to them: bear witness that we submit ourselves to Allah.”

Al-Muqawqis put the Prophet’s ﷺ letter in a box made of ivory and sealed it. He called in someone who could write Arabic from among his people and wrote this reply:

“In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Beneficent.

To Muhammad ibn Abdullah from Al-Muqawqis.

Peace, I have read your letter and understood its contents and what you have called on me to do. I certainly know that one more Prophet is to be sent, but I thought that he would appear in Syria. I have extended my hospitality to your messenger and I am sending you two maids who enjoy great respect among the Copts, and I am presenting you with clothes and a mule for you to ride. Peace be to you.”