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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

The Legacy to Modern Egypt                373
it is as an artistic motif, and no longer to make the temple a
world in miniature; finally this city of the dead need no longer
be in the West. In spite of all these changes the main idea
remains. It may not appear at first sight, because the tomb-
mosque is not dedicated to the king but to the one and only
God; but then the old mortuary temple was not really dedicated
to the king either in the New Kingdom, but to Am On, the real
recipient of the cult, and the priests were priests of Amun. It
was the dead king's temple only in so far as he embodied the
god, and when he died he returned to the gods, to the Sun, to
Re*, to Amun. It is not then a change from the worship of man
to worship of God, but in both cases the worship of the god
is linked with a deceased sovereign. The difference lies in the
exact nature of the link. Pharaoh was an impersonation of the
god, and when he died 'the limb of the god returned to its
creator*. The rigour of Islam forbids any such identity; the
most that it allows is nearness to God.
Here we have the hard kernel of Islam to which all ancient
customs must fit themselves or break. In this case the custom
has fitted itself with ease. As of old, continuous worship goes
on in the tombs of kings, and, as of old, endowments are made
to pay for this worship; only it is no longer addressed to the
deceased identified with the god, but on his behalf to Allah;
there are no special texts to promote this identity with the
deity, but the texts come from the one and only book that is
read alike in mosque, tomb, house, or street, the Qur'an, and it
is read to ensure the nearness of God. The reciters are not
priests specially affected to the cult of the dead, but generalized
scholars selected and paid to do what every scholar does any-
where, to read the revelation. There has been a complete.level-
ling out of all worship. Islam means standardization, and stan-
dardization becomes inevitable when everything is concentrated
at the head.
Thus, after the king's divinity has been reduced to nothing