How Napoleon Bonaparte revived celebrating the birth of the Prophet

An Egyptian book restoration official arranges burnt pages of the original ancient copy identified as "Le Description de L'Egypt". (File photo: AP)

After defeating the Fatimid Caliphate in Egypt, Saladin abolished all the ceremonies and celebrations that Fatimids had in Egypt.

Researchers say that he was aiming to strengthen the state to be able to face external threats, and that he also wanted to uproot the Shiite doctrine by erasing all social events that characterized the Fatimid era.

During the Mamluk era, sultans were keen to hold religious celebrations and to celebrate the Prophet’s birth in particular, but it was not that great.

Politics exploiting the Prophet’s birth did not only happen in the Middle Ages, it also extended to the modern era.

In August 1798, which was the second month for Napoleon in Cairo, it was the day to celebrate Prophet Mohammed’s birth, and the famous French leader realized that he can exploit this occasion to his benefit in Egypt.

The Egyptian historian Abdulrahman al-Jabarti gave a precise description for what happened on that occasion in his famous book “The Marvelous Chronicles: Biographies and Events”.

In the book he says: “The Leader of Napoleon’s army asked why Egyptians were not celebrating the birth of the Prophet as usual, and Sheikh Khalil al-Bakri, apologized and said that the celebrations have stopped.

“The leader refused his answer and gave him money for celebrating and ordered putting up decorations.”

On the occasion, the book says that the French gathered and Napoleon joined al-Azhar sheikhs and supervised the festival night.

Napoleon participated in the festival by eating with his bare hands, which was how the Egyptian used to eat at that time, and he listened to the Sufi singers who praised the Prophet, according to the book.

After the French left Egypt, Egyptians kept celebrating the birth of the Prophet.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:58 - GMT 06:58
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