|Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)|
Cairo (Hindi: कैरो/काहिरा/काइरो, Arabic: القاهرة, al-Qāhirah, Coptic: ⲕⲁϩⲓⲣⲏ, Kahire) is the capital and largest city of Egypt.
It is located near the Nile Delta.
Variants of name
- Memphis - The city's metropolitan area is the largest in the Middle East and the Arab world, and 15th-largest in the world, and is associated with ancient Egypt, as the famous Giza pyramid complex and the ancient city of Memphis are located in its geographical area.
- Maṣr - Egyptians today often refer to Cairo as Maṣr ([mɑsˤɾ], مصر), the Egyptian Arabic pronunciation of the name for Egypt itself, emphasizing the city's continued role in Egyptian influence.
- Fustat - After Muslim conquest of Egypt in AD 641, a new capital was founded at Fustat (later absorbed into Cairo).
- al-Qāhirah - Its official name is القاهرة al-Qāhirah , means literally: "the Defeater", in reference to the fact that the planet Mars ("Al Najm Al Qahir") was rising at the time when the city was founded as well as, "the Vanquisher"; "the Conqueror"; Egyptian Arabic pronunciation: [elqɑ(ː)ˈheɾɑ], "the Defeater" or, " "the Victorious" (al-Qahira) in reference to the much awaited Caliph al-Mu'izz li Din Allah who arrived from the old Fatimid Ifriqiyan capital of Mahdia in 973 to the city.
- al-Qahira - When Caliph al-Mu'izz li Din Allah finally arrived from the old Fatimid capital of Mahdia in Tunisia in 973, he gave the city its present name, al-Qahira ("The Victorious").
- al-Manṣūriyyah - In 968, the Fatimids were led by General Jawhar al-Siqilli with his Kutama army to establish a new capital for the Fatimid dynasty. A new fortified city northeast of Fustat was established. It took four years for Jawhar to build the city, initially known as al-Manṣūriyyah.
- Khere-Ohe - The Egyptian name for Cairo is said to be: Khere-Ohe, meaning: "The Place of Combat", supposedly, in reference to a battle which took place between the Gods Seth and Horus.
E. J. Chinnock writes ....Memphis, the capital of Egypt, is called in the Hebrew Bible, Noph. In Hosea ix. 6 it is called Moph. The Egyptian name was Mӗnoph, of which both Moph and Noph are contractions. The name signifies place of Ftah, the Egyptian name for Vulcan. Memphis stood on the west bank of the Nile, and is said by Herodotus (ii. 99) to have been founded by Menes. It had a circumference of fifteen miles. Its numerous temples were famous and are mentioned in the poems of Martial, Ovid, and Tibullus. It never recovered the devastation committed by Cambyses, who was exasperated by its resistance. The rise of Alexandria as the capital under the Ptolemies, hastened the decline of Memphis. At Gizeh, near Memphis, are the three great pyramids, being of the height respectively of 460, 446, and 203 feet. Not far off are six smaller ones. Near the second pyramid is the Sphinx, cut out of the solid rook, which was probably an object of worship. Cf. Apollodorus, ii. 4.
The modern Cairo was founded in 969 CE by Jawhar al-Siqilli ("the Sicilian") of the Fatimid dynasty, but the land composing the present-day city was the site of ancient national capitals whose remnants remain visible in parts of Old Cairo.
Alexandria was founded around a small pharaonic town c. 331 BC by Alexander the Great. It became an important centre of the Hellenistic civilization and remained the capital of Hellenistic and Roman & Byzantine Egypt for almost one thousand years until the Muslim conquest of Egypt in AD 641, when a new capital was founded at Fustat (later absorbed into Cairo).
The area around present-day Cairo, especially Memphis, had long been a focal point of Ancient Egypt due to its strategic location just upstream from the Nile Delta. However, the origins of the modern city are generally traced back to a series of settlements in the first millennium. Around the turn of the 4th century, as Memphis was continuing to decline in importance, the Romans established a fortress town along the east bank of the Nile. This fortress, known as Babylon, remains the oldest structure in the city. It is also situated at the nucleus of the Coptic Orthodox community, which separated from the Roman and Byzantine church in the late 4th century. Many of Cairo's oldest Coptic churches, including the Hanging Church, are located along the fortress walls in a section of the city known as Coptic Cairo.
Foundation: In 968, the Fatimids were led by General Jawhar al-Siqilli with his Kutama army, to establish a new capital for the Fatimid dynasty. Egypt was conquered from their base in Ifriqiya and a new fortified city northeast of Fustat was established. It took four years for Jawhar to build the city, initially known as al-Manṣūriyyah, which was to serve as the new capital of the caliphate. During that time, Jawhar also commissioned the construction of the al-Azhar Mosque, which developed into the third-oldest university in the world. Cairo would eventually become a centre of learning, with the library of Cairo containing hundreds of thousands of books. When Caliph al-Mu'izz li Din Allah finally arrived from the old Fatimid capital of Mahdia in Tunisia in 973, he gave the city its present name, al-Qahira ("The Victorious").
However, in 1168 the Fatimids under the leadership of Vizier Shawar set fire to Fustat to prevent Cairo's capture by the Crusaders.
Egypt's capital was permanently moved to Cairo, which was eventually expanded to include the ruins of Fustat and the previous capitals of al-Askar and al-Qatta'i. While the Fustat fire successfully protected the city of Cairo, a continuing power struggle between Shawar, King Amalric I of Jerusalem, and the Zengid general Shirkuh led to the downfall of the Fatimid establishment.
In 1169 Saladin was appointed as the new vizier of Egypt by the Fatimids and two years later he would seize power from the family of the last Fatimid caliph, al-'Āḍid. As the first Sultan of Egypt, Saladin established the Ayyubid dynasty, based in Cairo, and aligned Egypt with the Abbasids, who were based in Baghdad. During his reign, Saladin also constructed the Cairo Citadel, which served as the seat of the Egyptian government until the mid-19th century.
In 1250 slave soldiers, known as the Mamluks, seized control of Egypt and like many of their predecessors established Cairo as the capital of their new dynasty. Continuing a practice started by the Ayyubids, much of the land occupied by former Fatimid palaces was sold and replaced by newer buildings.] Construction projects initiated by the Mamluks pushed the city outward while also bringing new infrastructure to the centre of the city.
Although Cairo avoided Europe's stagnation during the Late Middle Ages, it could not escape the Black Death, which struck the city more than fifty times between 1348 and 1517.
The city's status was further diminished after Vasco da Gama discovered a sea route around the Cape of Good Hope between 1497 and 1499, thereby allowing spice traders to avoid Cairo.
Cairo's political influence diminished significantly after the Ottomans supplanted Mamluk power over Egypt in 1517. Ruling from Constantinople, Sultan Selim I relegated Egypt to a mere province, with Cairo as its capital. For this reason, the history of Cairo during Ottoman times is often described as inconsequential, especially in comparison to other time periods.
However, during the 16th and 17th centuries, Cairo remained an important economic and cultural centre. Although no longer on the spice route, the city facilitated the transportation of Yemeni coffee and Indian textiles, primarily to Anatolia, North Africa, and the Balkans. Cairene merchants were instrumental in bringing goods to the barren Hejaz, especially during the annual hajj to Mecca.
Alexander at Memphis
Arrian writes ....AT Memphis, many embassies from Greece reached him; and he sent away no one disappointed by the rejection of his suit. From Antipater also arrived an army of 400 Grecian mercenaries under the command of Menidas, son of Hegesander: likewise from Thrace 500 cavalry, under the direction of Asclepiodoros, son of Eunicus. Here he offered sacrifice to Zeus 1 the King, led his soldiers fully armed in solemn procession, and celebrated a gymnastic and musical contest. He then settled the affairs of Egypt, by appointing two Egyptians, Doloaspis and Petisis, governors of the country, dividing between them the whole land; but as Petisis declined his province, Doloaspis received the whole. He appointed two of the Companions to be commandants of garrisons: Pantaleon the Pydnaean in Memphis, and Polemo, son of Megacles, a Pellaean, in Pelusium. He also gave the command of the Grecian auxiliaries to Lycidas, an Aetolian, and appointed Eugnostus, son of Xenophantes, one of the Companions, to be secretary over the same troops. As their overseers he placed Aeschylus and Ephippus the Chalcidean. The government of the neighbouring country of Libya he granted to Apollonius, son of Charinus; and the part of Arabia near Heroöpolis 2 he put under Cleornenes, a man of Naucratis2. This last was ordered to allow the governors to rule their respective districts according to the ancient custom; but to collect from them the tribute due to him. The native governors were also ordered to pay it to Cleomenes. He appointed Peucestas, son of Macartatus, and Balacrus, son of Amyntas, generals of the army which he left behind in Egypt; and he placed Polerno, son of Theramenes, over the fleet as admiral. He made Leonnatus, son of Anteas, one of his body-guards instead of Arrhybas, who had died of disease. Antiochus, the commander of the archers, also died; and in his stead Ombrion the Cretan was appointed. When Balacrus was left behind in Egypt, the allied Grecian infantry, which had been under his command, was put under that of Calanus. Alexander was said to have divided the government of Egypt among so many men, because he was surprised at the natural strength of the country, and he thought it unsafe to entrust the rule of the whole to a single person. The Romans also seem to me to have learned a lesson from him, and therefore keep Egypt under strong guard; for they do not send any of the senators thither as proconsul for the same reason, but only men who have the rank among them of Equites (Knights).’
चंगेजखां का आक्रमण
जाट वीरों का इतिहास: दलीप सिंह अहलावत, पृष्ठान्त-374
दिलूम वोल्दक नामक स्थान पर हुआ था। 13 वर्ष की अवस्था में ही उसके पिता की मृत्यु हो गई थी। उसने बड़ी कठिनाईयों का सामना करके सन् 1203 ई० में खान का पद प्राप्त किया।
यह बड़ा वीर, निर्भय और साहसी योद्धा था। इसकी सेना में 30,000 जाट सैनिक तथा 20,000 भारतीय मूल के सैनिक थे जिनका सेनापति बेला नैन (गोत्र नैन) जाट था। चंगेजखां के विषय में कहावत प्रसिद्ध है कि वह युद्धकला में सर्वश्रेष्ठ था। उसने मंगोलिया को विजय कर लिया और अपनी विशाल व शक्तिशाली सेना के साथ आक्रमण करके चीन को रौंद डाला तथा मध्यएशिया के मुस्लिम प्रदेशों को लूट लिया और उजाड़ दिया। बल्ख, बोखारा, समरकन्द तथा अनेक सुन्दर नगरों को नष्ट कर दिया। जब चंगेजखां ने ख्वारिज्म के अन्तिम शाह जलालुद्दीन पर आक्रमण किया तो वह भारत की ओर भाग गया। उसने सिन्ध नदी पर पड़ाव डाला और मंगोलों से युद्ध करने के लिए प्रस्तुत हुआ। उसने दिल्ली सल्तनत के बादशाह अल्तमश (सन् 1211-1236 ई०) से सहायता मांगी परन्तु उसने इन्कार कर दिया। अन्त में सन् 1221 ई० में जलालुद्दीन को चंगेजखां की सेना ने हरा दिया। कुछ सैनिकों को साथ लेकर उसने भागकर जान बचाई। खोखरों (जाटवंश) से मिलकर उसने नासिरूद्दीन कुबैचा पर आक्रमण किया और उसे मुलतान के दुर्ग में से भगा दिया। कुछ समय बाद वह फारस पहुंचा। वहां समाचार मिला कि इराक की सेना उसकी सहायता के लिए प्रस्तुत है। परन्तु एक क्रोधित व्यक्ति ने उसको मार डाला, जिसके भाई का पहले उसने वध करा दिया था।
चंगेजखां ने अफगानिस्तान को उजाड़ दिया और हिरात व पैशावर पर अधिकार कर लिया। उसने भारतवर्ष पर आक्रमण करके लूटमार का इरादा किया परन्तु मंगोलों से भारत की गर्मी सहन न हुई और वे सिन्ध नदी के पश्चिम की ओर से ही लौट गये। इस प्रकार भारत एक बड़ी विपत्ति व तबाही से बच गया, और अब अल्तमश देश के अन्य शत्रुओं से युद्ध करने की ओर दत्तचित्त हुआ1।
चंगेजखां के आक्रमण के समय अब्बासी वंश के खलीफा का शासन अरब देशों पर था जिसकी राजधानी बगदाद थी। अब्दुल अब्बास के नाम पर इस अब्बासी वंश के लोगों ने सन् 749 ई० में उमैया वंश के मुसलमान बादशाहों (खलीफा) की राजधानी दमिष्क पर आक्रमण करके उन्हें हरा दिया और दमिष्क शहर को फूंक दिया और इस खानदान के 14 बादशाहों की कब्रों से हड्डियां निकालकर जला दीं तथा इस वंश के सब बाल बच्चों को कत्ल कर डाला। इस अब्बासी वंश के खलीफाओं ने बगदाद को अपनी राजधानी बनाकर सन् 749 से 1256 ई० तक अरब देशों पर शासन किया।
चंगेजखां के आक्रमण के बाद सन् 1256 ई० में उसके पौत्र हलागू (हलाकूखां) ने आक्रमण करके अब्बासी वंश के अन्तिम खलीफा अलमुस्तासिम को युद्ध में परास्त कर दिया और बगदाद पर अधिकार कर लिया। इस प्रकार खलीफा के पद का अन्त हो गया और उसके उत्तराधिकारी मिश्र
- 1. सहायक पुस्तक - (1) मध्यकालीन भारत का संक्षिप्त इतिहास, पृ० 80-81, लेखक ईश्वरीप्रसाद। (2) हिन्दुस्तान की तारीख उर्दू पृ० 74-75. (3) जाट्स दी ऐनशनट् रूलर्ज पृ० 60 लेखक बी० एस० दहिया।
जाट वीरों का इतिहास: दलीप सिंह अहलावत, पृष्ठान्त-375
में चले गये। 
चंगेजखां के आक्रमण से डरकर बग़दाद के खलीफा ने उसके आने से पहले बग़दाद से धार्मिक एवं ऐतिहासिक साहित्य, शिल्पकला तथा वैद्यक से सम्बन्धित सामग्री मिश्र की राजधानी काहिरा पहुंचा दी थी जो आज भी वहां के विशाल विश्वविद्यालय में विद्यमान है। 1959 में हमारी नं० 2 ग्रेनेडियरज़ पलटन गाज़ा पट्टी (मिश्र) में थी। वहां से मैं कुछ सैनिकों सहित काहिरा गया था। वहां मैं इस प्रसिद्ध विश्वविद्यालय में गया और वहां के तत्कालीन उपकुलपति प्रोफेसर मुस्तफाखां ने मुझे यह सब बातें बताईं तथा सब सामग्री भी दिखलाई (लेखक)।
Notable Arab historians
- Al Masudi (b.896-d. 956) was an Arab historian and geographer. He was born c. 896 at Baghdad and died in September 956 at Cairo, Egypt).
- Ibn Manzur (June–July 1233 - December 1311/January 1312) was an Arabic lexicographer and author of a large dictionary called Lisān al-ʿArab. He died around the turn of the years 1311/1312 in Cairo.
- Ibn Hisham - Ibn Hisham (d. 833 AD) or Ibn-i-Hisham was also said to have mastered Arabic philology in a way which only Sibawayh had. Ibn Hisham has been said to have grown up in Basra and moved afterwards to Egypt, while others have narrated that his family was descended from Basra but he himself was born in Old Cairo.