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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

The Contribution to Islam                  351
Fatimids, of course, introduced the Ismi'ili laws, but after their
disappearance the Hanafi Code was established as the official
code of the country, though the Maliki and Shafi% and even
the Hanbali schools enjoyed patronage.
The foundation of the Azhar mosque by the Fatimid con-
queror Jawhar in 972 was an event of profound import, not
only for Egypt, but for Islam as a whole: liberally endowed by
successive rulers, and in particular by the Fatimid al-cAziz, it
attained the status of the medieval university of Islam par
excellence, especially after the sack of Bagdad by the Mongols
in 1258, and to its courts students from all parts of the Muslim
world came and still come for instruction in religion and law
at the hands of its professors. At the present day its classes
comprise Egyptians, Sudanese, Syrians, Palestinians, Moroccans,
Algerians, Arabians, Indians, Javanese, and even Chinese, who
return thence to administer and teach the ritual in their own
towns and villages. Many distinguished names have been con-
nected with the Azhar. To-day, its local fame has paled some-
what with the growth of the modern Egyptian University, and
under its newest constitution it seems in danger of losing much
of its former significance: but it remains for ever a portent, an
example, still visible, of the patronage of learning which lent
lustre to the martial glory of medieval Islam. Its Rector (Sbaykh
al-Azhar) has always played a leading religious, and therefore
an important political, role in the affairs of Egypt.
To the mystical side of Islam, Egypt has made a full and
worthy contributionóworthy of the land in which mysticism
appears to be indigenous. It may be justly conjectured, though
it cannot with certainty be proved, that the early Muslims were
profoundly influenced by the example of the Christian monks
and anchorites living in the deserts of Egypt and Sinai, and it
is at least feasible that the rise of the ascetic movement in Islam
during the seventh and eighth centuries may have been largely
inspired by contact with such men. One of the earliest and