Patricia Crone and Michael Cook take an extreme stand in their study of early Islam when they dismiss Islamic Egypt as an utterly depersonalized and assimilated part of the orthodox Muslim polity. ‘Egypt in Islam was not so much a nation or even a country as simply a place.’ In their view the Copts with their indigenous traditions and civilization had become exiles in their own country. Rustic Coptic culture, if compared with the urban Christian intellectual heritage of Syria and Mesopotamia, lacked the stamina to assert itself in. the new religious setting, and receded to the countryside. In the opinion of the authors, Egypt surrendered with extreme readiness her distinctive provincial features to the new Islamic civilization and developed into the most loyal and most prolific, yet at the same time the most parochial and imitative stronghold of sunnī Islam. They flatly disclaim any specific Egyptian contribution to medieval Islam, even during the two centuries of schismatic Fatimid ascendancy when Cairo was the centre of an intrinsically Egyptian Empire with universal claims. So far the thesis of Hagarism.
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