The Copts, the indigenous Christians of Egypt, have a long and fascinating history, but their importance has often been overlooked. Jill Kamil has written an engaging survey of Coptic Christianity since pharaonic times, through its development under Rome, Byzantium, Islam, and beyond. Based on extensive travel around the Coptic sites of Egypt and conversations with numerous experts, from monks to museum directors, the book looks at the fundamental importance of Coptic religion and culture in Egypt. Weaving together historical research with absorbing stories, the author explores such questions as: •How did Christianity succeed, when Egypt already enjoyed a distinctive and successful religious tradition that had lasted for more than 3000 years? •What led the Copts to invent monasticism? •Why were there so many Egyptian martyrs? •What caused the Coptic church to break away from the rest of Christianity in the fifth century AD? •How has Egyptian Christianity influenced the wider church? Lavishly illustrated with more than 120 photographs, drawings, and maps, Christianity in the Land of the Pharaohs offers a captivating insight into Egypt and will make ideal reading for students of Egyptian history and Christianity.
Christianity in the Land of the Pharaohs
The Coptic Orthodox Church
123 b/w illus.
For sale only in the Middle East
Reem Al Faisal With text by Seyyed Hossein Nasr
With text bySeyyed Hossein Nasr
The great Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca is one of the five ‘pillars’ of Islam, required of every Muslim who is fit and able to undertake it. Every year in the month of Dhu al-Hijja, millions of Muslims converge on this desert city on the Arabian Peninsula from all corners of the globe, in one of the world’s greatest and most spiritual human gatherings. Saudi princess and photographer Reem Al Faisal here brings together a portrait of the Hajj in an extraordinary collection of black-and-white photographs that reveal not just the vast scale of the pilgrimage, not just the range of rituals involved, but also the human dimension: the sheer variety of humanity that comes here, the private moments of piety and devotion, the intimate moments of relaxation, and the joy (and sometimes anxiety) of being a part of such an immense community of people in a common purpose....read more
175 b/w photographs
Coptic Saints and Pilgrimages
Otto F.A. Meinardus
The Coptic Christian tradition is one that goes back almost two thousand years to the very beginnings of Christianity: Mark the Evangelist himself is said to have brought the faith to Alexandria. In his Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity (AUC Press, 1999), renowned scholar Otto Meinardus reviewed the history of the official church from its earliest days to the end of the twentieth century, with its doctrinal disputes and its long isolation from other world churches. Here in Coptic Saints and Pilgrims, he examines the other side of the coin, the popular traditions and beliefs of the people. While the Coptic Orthodox church is strongly influenced by Hellenistic modes of thinking, many of the folk attitudes and practices by contrast have their roots in the religious heritage of pharaonic Egypt, and while the official faith is by its sacramental nature exclusive, the folk religion is inclusive and touches every aspect of the personal lives of ordinary Copts. It is this popular aspect of Coptic religious devotion that is revealed here, in its many points of focus: biblical saints, martyrs, ascetics, equestrian warriors, ‘silverless’ physicians, women saints, pilgrimage, dreams, visions, and apparitions....read more
15 February 2008
20 color illus.
Photographs of Sufi Rituals in the Middle East and the Balkans
Photographs of Sufi Rituals in the Middle East and the BalkansNicolaas Biegman
Sufism, the mystical tradition of Islam, is as far from the strident and often violent fundamentalist strain of the religion that has so captured world attention as it is possible to be. Sufis in all parts of the Islamic world are broad-minded, tolerant, and non-violent, their quest only to find and approach God through all means, including poetry, music, and dance. Historian Nicolaas Biegman has been observing and photographing Sufi practice and ritual in different Muslim lands for many years, and here in this collection of extraordinary photographs he feels the pulse of the Sufi experience, with its enormous variety in discipline and exuberance, intellectualism and spontaneity, in Egypt, Syria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Macedonia. In accompanying texts he explores what lies behind the rituals, and explains aspects of Sufi life and practice such as the position of women....read more
1 June 2009
100 color illus.
An Islam of Her Own
Reconsidering Religion and Secularism in Women’s Islamic Movements
Reconsidering Religion and Secularism in Women’s Islamic MovementsSherine Hafez
As the world grapples with issues of religious fanaticism, extremist politics, and rampant violence that seek justification in either “religious” or “secular” discourses, women who claim Islam as a vehicle for individual and social change are often either regarded as pious subjects who subscribe to an ideology that denies them many modern freedoms, or as feminist subjects who seek empowerment only through rejecting religion and adopting secularist discourses. Yet in actuality Muslim women whose activism is grounded in Islam draw equally on principles associated with secularism. Here Sherine Hafez focuses on women’s Islamic activism in Egypt to challenge these binary representations of religious versus secular subjectivities. Drawing on five years of ethnographic fieldwork within a women’s Islamic movement in Cairo, Hafez analyzes the ways in which women who participate in Islamic activism narrate their selfhood, articulate their desires, and embody discourses in which the boundaries are blurred between the religious and the secular....read more