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A glimpse of our past

By Abu Salma

The Coptics were Christians. But they followed a savage practice. They used to hold a big festival in the early summer each year. This was a day of general merry-making. However, the day was also marred by human sacrifice. A beautiful maiden dressed as a bride was thrown into the river Nile to get round some unseen power they supposed had the hold of its flow. People thought that the sacrifice was necessary to please the Nile and get a big flood of water for their dried fields. If the Nile got displeased they thought there would be no flood and hence no crops.

The Coptics asked Amr (Governor of Egypt in the Caliphate of Hazrat 'Omar radhiallahu ta'ala ~anhu) to give permission to sacrifice a maiden as usual. But Amr did not allow the savage act. It so happened that the Nile had very little water that year. Crops were spoiled. Many of the peasants decided to leave the country. Amr wrote to the Caliph for advice.

The caliph, Hazrat 'Omar (radhiallahu ta'ala 'anhu) approved of Amr's action and sent a letter addressed to the Nile. Ft said: "From the servant of Allah and Caliph of the Muslims to the river Nile of Egypt. O Nile, if you flow out of your own will then do not flow. But if Allah the Almighty, who is the Creator of all things in the world, controls your flow, we pray to Him to keep you flowing."

This letter was thrown into the river as directed by the Caliph. The-river over-flowed its banks that year. Such a big flood had not been seen for years. The Nile had obeyed the Master of the Caliph. The country was once again green with crops. The peasants were happy. The savage practice of human sacrifice each year came to an end forever.