Defeated and dislodged from Syria, the
Roman warriors took their last bold stand at Alexandria, then the capital of
Egypt. They concentrated all their strength here to arrest the progress of the
Muslims, but Amr Ibn al-As, the invincible Muslim commander, crushed the united
might of the Romans even at this place. The victorious General thereafter took
over into his hand the rule of the conquered territory.
General Amr began by granting the fullest
liberty to the Christian subjects in all their religious affairs.
One morning intense commotion was witnessed
in the Christian quarter of the city. Bands of the excited inhabitants streamed
towards Chowk Bazaar and assembled in a large meeting there. One after another,
fiery speeches were delivered. Thereafter a number of their leaders with the
local Arch-Bishop as their head, arrived at the gate of the house of General
Amr Ibn al-As. Amr cordially received the deputation.
The Bishop explained to Amr the cause of
the excitement of the Christian inhabitants. There was a marble statue of Jesus
Christ in the Bazaar. The Christians used to worship the idol with great
reverence. Someone had broken the nose of the image the previous night. The
Christians naturally connected the sacrilege with a Muslim.
General Amr gave a patient hearing and came
to share the same suspicion (i.e. that a Muslim damaged the idol of Jesus). He
turned to the Bishop and said in a voice of agony, "I am deeply ashamed
and pained at what had occurred. It is true; Islam disapproves of idol-worship.
But it equally disapproves of the profanation of the gods and goddesses of
non-Muslim communities. Please have the statue repaired and I shall bear the
entire cost" The Bishop replied, "But it is impossible to repair it,
for a fresh nose cannot be fitted to it" General Amr replied, “Then build
a new statue, and I shall meet the cost" The Bishop replied, "But
even that is not acceptable. You know we believe Jesus to be the son of God; so
vulgar money cannot compensate for the profanation of his image. There is but
one compensation: we shall build a statue of your Prophet (Muhammad) and break
its nose" The face of General Amr blazed up in anger. His eyes rolled fiercely,
his lips tightened, his body began to quiver and again and again his hand
grasped at his sword and again and again he extricated his hand from the
General Amr left his seat, walked
restlessly to and fro for some time, and then washed his face with cold water.
He then returned to his seat and said in a quiet sorrowful voice, "You
propose to erect a statue of the Great Prophet (Muhammad) who after years of
strenuous struggle abolished idol-worship and then you want to break it with
insult - and all this before our eyes! It is better that all our wealth, our
children and lives perish! Bishop make some other proposal, I am prepared to
cut off and deliver the nose of anyone of us for the nose of your image"
The Bishop accepted the last offer with gleeful alacrity. The following morning
Christians and Muslims swarmed to the open square - the Christians would have
their revenge in this open place.
General Amr addressed the gathering and
narrated the circumstances of the unfortunate incident in their fullest
details. He then called the Bishop to his presence and said, "You are the
head of the Christians, and I am the head of the Muslims here.
The responsibility of ruling this country
is mine and I must accept the punishment for any insult that may have been
offered to your religion or the weakness of my administration. Take this sword
and cut off my nose" – saying this, he handed the Bishop his sword.
The Bishop took the sword in his hand and
began to examine the sharpness of its edge. The huge concourse stood silent and
breathless in the profoundest astonishment.
Suddenly the silence was broken when a
Muslim soldier who was running towards the spot and crying, "Stop stop
Bishop! Here is the nose of your image and herewith the accused of the day. It
is I who broke your idol and this punishment is due to me: the General is
entirely innocent" - then the man came before the Bishop and offered his
The Bishop threw away the sword and said,
"Blessed is the soldier, blessed is the General and above all, blessed is
that noble Prophet (Muhammad) whose ideal has built up men like these. It was
no doubt a wrong to break the image, but it will be an immeasurably greater
wrong to mangle a human face for that" [Ref: Waqidi, Hirak Har; cited in
Khan, Anecdotes from Islam, pp 195-197] Amr ibn al-As was a famous companion of
Prophet Muhammad who was put in charge of the Muslims entering Egypt. A Mosque
was erected in his name in Fustat, near Cairo in 21 AH. It was an
Islamic learning centre long before al-Azhar (the famous Muslim university)
which had a capacity of 5000. The Mosque was build alongside the Nile River.
Amr was one of the early Muslims who told us that Prophet Muhammad said there
were 15 verses in the Quran where we prostrate. He also narrated the Hadith about
seeking refuge with Allah the Almighty when we are scared. He also on occasion
led the Muslims in prayer. He was also one of the companions who addressed the
Muslims at a Friday Khutba (sermon) informing them about the Witr
Imagine, such a great Muslim would respect
the right of non-Muslims to practice their faith freely, even the idols they
created. He went through this length to protect the non-Muslims and their
properties, even though Islam prohibits idols.
May Allah the Almighty have mercy and guide
us to acting like the early Muslims did, with truth, justice, and fairness in
all our activities, Ameen. Fi Amanillah, Assalam Alaikum,
.لا نريد زعيما يخاف البيت الإبيض
نريد زعيما يخاف الواحد الأحد
دولة الإسلامية باقية