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COPTIC CENSUS: THE COPTS FORMED THE MAJORITY OF THE POPULATION OF UPPER EGYPT IN THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY

February 20, 2014

kash al masalikKitab zubdat kashf al-mamalik wa-bayan al-turuq wa-al-masalik (زبدة كشف الممالك في بيان الطرق والمسالك) is an important book from the 15th century that was written by Ghars al-Din Khalil ibn Shahin al-Zahiri (خليل بن شاهين الظاهري غرس الدين المصري), who was born in 1410 and died in 1468 AD.  He was a historian and writer in the Burji, Circassian Mamluk Sultanate (1382 – 1517) that had its base in Cairo; and he, himself a Mamluk, was governor of Alexandria and then, in 1435/1436, he was appointed vizier by Sultan Al-Ashraf Barsbay (1422 – 1438). He must have been, therefore, very knowledgeable of Egypt and other countries, like Syria, which were under Mamluk control. A few books he had written attest to this fact, and one of these is Kitab zubdat kashf al-mamalik wa-bayan al-turuq wa-al-masalik (The Cream of Exposition of Kingdoms and Explanation of Routes and Roads[1]).

Part of the book is devoted to the different regions of Egypt (Part 1, Chapter: Fi zikr al-diyar al-masriya في ذكر الديار المصرية). Ibn Shahin al-Zahiri lists fourteen provinces (أقاليم) in Egypt: seven in Upper Egypt and seven in Lower Egypt. He says Upper Egypt extends from Masr (Old Cairo) and Giza in the north to the Nile cataracts (الجنادل) of the Nile in the south – a distance that took two months to travel. The seven provinces of Upper Egypt were: Giza, Atfih, Fayum, Bahnasa, Ashmunein, Asyut, and Qus. Then he tells us the following, which is the purpose for me writing this article, “The majority of its population (Upper Egypt الصعيد) are Christians (nasara نصارى) [وغالب أهله نصارى]”.[2] Interesting, too, is his mentioning that in Upper Egypt there were around one thousand churches and monasteries.

This is evidence that until the first half of the 15th century, most Upper Egypt was Christian. The Copts still formed the majority of the population in Upper Egypt despite the severe persecutions and natural disasters.


[1] My translation! It’s awkward to translate Arab books’ titles.

[2] كتاب زبدة كشف الممالك في بيان الطرق والمسالك تأليف غرس الدين خليل بن شاهين الظاهري٠ قد إعتنى بتصحيحه بولس راويس٠ باريس، ٠١٨٩٣ص ٣٣

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 21, 2014 12:04 am

    Reblogged this on SocialHumanRace.

  2. February 21, 2014 12:27 am

    Combine this with the facts of genetic ancestry! That goes hand in hand with the fact that Coptic is the indigenous, native, first nation, to borrow the term used in Canada! EgyptiCoptic ethnic nationhood, denotes the earliest, original culture and social world of current Arab Empire State-ism, Arab Empire state-olotry occupied Egypt!

  3. February 21, 2014 12:46 am

    To be clear, Coptic is the last dialect of the only linguistic succession of Egyptic language! There are dialects of Coptic, as well documented in The Web spot we are learning from, “Coptic Nationalism Dioscorus Boles”, has all the vitals regarding my comments! Now we face Arab Empire state-olotry, the idolatry of the Arab Empire state defined colonies occupation over North Africa & Eastern Mediterranean, South West Asia! Egypt is an Arab Empire occupied Nation, sadly! Dioscorus Boles, tries to be more than fair, in his very balanced ,civil social centred discourse of the social dynamics of Egypt’s Coptic nation, Egypt’s first nation, while Egypt is Arab Empire occupied country !

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