Last article addressed the period of rule of the third Ayyubid sultan, Nasser al-Din Muhammad, son of Al-Aziz Othman, who was ten years old then, and therefore his uncle Al-Afdal was summoned to manage the affairs of the country, as well as the subsequent events such as Al-Afdal’s defeat by Al-Adel, who became a Sultan over Egypt in 596 AH (1200 AD) after deposing his nephew, Nasser al-Din Muhammad. He appointed as a minister a man whom he gave the name Al-Qadi Safi al-Din. Also, it tackled the calamities afflicted the Egyptians at that time as the decline of the Nile waters, the dryness of the lands and the spread of high prices.
Anba Sawiris Ibn al-Muqaffa tells us about the custom Egypt caliphs had followed of disbursing alms and money among the needy and the poor, but Minister Safi al-Din suggested cutting off this custom. It was indeed cut off, driving the country into bad conditions, he said: “In that year, God prevented the Nile from ascending to the land of Egypt, so all the lands dried up from the tower of Aswan to Damietta… the country choked and was ruined, the subjects perished and dispersed, people were dispersed and torn apart, and many went from Egypt to the Levant with their money and children, so they perished…”; as they were vulnerable to cold, hunger, and killing by Arabs. Thus, the country was struck by high prices, evacuation, and epidemic, and the conditions of the people deteriorated, driving them to sell their possessions and slaves at low prices, even many of them sold their sons and daughters to serve, justifying their act by saying that it is better for their children to be sold to someone who can feed them, so they would live, than to starve to death. The son would snatch food from his father’s hand to live, and the father from his son’s hand! Ibn Al-Muqaffa continues, “Generally, they ate each other, and the strong overcame the weak and ate them, nobody was left to bury the dead, death became contemptible that corpses were laid in the streets, alleys, and roads… Nobody wept over nobody… The Christian and Muslim chief soldiers, writers and bountiful people from Egypt and Cairo gave alms to the poor, each according to his own capability.”… In those days, every person in the villages left his work and industry and crawled towards the cities in order to search for food, so industries and human production stopped. Conditions remained as such through 597 and 598 AH, until 599 AH (1202 AD) came to an end, so God looked upon His creation and had mercy on people, and things began to return to their previous era: prices began to decline and decreased, people began to return to their work, crafts and industries, to rebuild the country after what afflicted it, security returned to the roads, and people were able to travel by land and sea again.
King Al-Adel (596- 614 AH) (1200- 1218 AD)
He is Sultan King Al-Adel Saif al-Din Abu Bakr Muhammad, the brother of Sultan, Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub. He is two years younger than his brother, Salah al-Din, Shams al-Din al-Zahabi mentions: “Salah al-Din relied on him a lot, and he appointed him as a deputy in Egypt for some period, then he gave him Aleppo. But later on he gave Aleppo to his son Al-Zaher, and he gave his brother Al-Karak, then Harran in exchange”. In case of the absence of Salah al-Din, Al-Adel would manage Egypt’s rule and affairs in the place of his brother. Finally, Al-Adel became independent in ruling Egypt after many incidents and events took place between him and Al-Afdal and Al-Aziz (mentioned in previous articles). Al-Adel’s rule extended to Egypt, the Levant, Al-Hejaz, Yemen, Diyar-Bakar, and Armenia. When his rule over these countries was settled, he divided them among his sons, so Egypt was given to King Al-Kamel Muhammad. He used to spend the summer at the Levant, the winter at Egypt.
Historians have mentioned that Al-Adel was a great sultan, of perfect knowledge and opinion, political acumen, in addition to good conduct, sound mind, and firmness. However, some indicated that he was subjected to assassination attempts that were uncovered and foiled. And… stories about beautiful Egypt never end!
The General Bishop
Head of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center