Who Deciphered The Hieroglyphs
>> Even though the decipherment of the hieroglyphs is a pretty vast subject to discuss on these are some links of information in which I wanted to share!
THE EGYPTIAN SUFI DHU'L NUN AL-MISRI
Dhu'l Nun al-Misri was born at Akhmim in Upper Egypt and died at Giza, near Cairo. After his death he became a [if gte vml 1]><v:shapetype id="_x0000_t75" coordsize="21600,21600" o:spt="75" o:preferrelative="t" path="m@4@5l@4@11@9@11@9@5xe" filled="f" stroked="f"> <v:stroke joinstyle="miter"></v:stroke> <v:formulas> <v:f eqn="if lineDrawn pixelLineWidth 0"></v:f> <v:f eqn="sum @0 1 0"></v:f> <v:f eqn="sum 0 0 @1"></v:f> <v:f eqn="prod @2 1 2"></v:f> <v:f eqn="prod @3 21600 pixelWidth"></v:f> <v:f eqn="prod @3 21600 pixelHeight"></v:f> <v:f eqn="sum @0 0 1"></v:f> <v:f eqn="prod @6 1 2"></v:f> <v:f eqn="prod @7 21600 pixelWidth"></v:f> <v:f eqn="sum @8 21600 0"></v:f> <v:f eqn="prod @7 21600 pixelHeight"></v:f> <v:f eqn="sum @10 21600 0"></v:f> </v:formulas> <v:path o:extrusionok="f" gradientshapeok="t" o:connecttype="rect"></v:path> <o:lock v:ext="edit" aspectratio="t"></o:lock> </v:shapetype><v:shape id="officeArt_x0020_object" o:spid="_x0000_i1025" type="#_x0000_t75" style='width:.75pt;height:.75pt;visibility:visible; mso-wrap-style:square'> <v:imagedata src="file:///C:/Users/CHRIST~1/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif" o:title=""></v:imagedata> </v:shape><![endif][if !vml][endif]celebrated Sufi (of the ninth century CE). There are also reports of his link with Hermetic philosophy and alchemy, revived by early Muslims in a distinctive variant. Dhu'l Nun has been mentioned over the centuries in various formats and interpretations, including those of modern scholars.
Another factor is potentially significant. Some scholars have described the subject as a Nubian. In an earlier book, the present writer described Dhu'l Nun as "a Nubian or half-Nubian" (4) According to Professor R. A. Nicholson, the subject "was a Copt or Nubian" (5) His father Ibrahim was a Nubian slave who had converted to Islam, becoming a client (mawla) of the Quraysh tribe of Arabs closely associated with Mecca. In brief, Dhu'l Nun was one of the Egyptian mawali, an unprivileged native of the Nile valley who learnt Arabic culture and language under Quraysh auspices. He was probably black-skinned. His maternal line of descent is not clear... According to the El Daly theory (section 4 above), Dhu'l Nun was familiar with Coptic, and there were numerous surviving objects that displayed two or three languages translating the same hieroglyphic text. The same innovative Egyptologist has emphasized that Champollion benefited from study of the book on Coptic grammar by Athanasius Kircher (1602-80), a seminal work relating to Arabic manuscripts. El Daly has also stressed that Champollion was at some pains to study Arabic. (Scholar: Muslims had insights into hieroglyphs - Egyptian disputes belief that invaders ignored ancient culture! http://edition.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/02/22/egypt.hieroglyphs.reut/)
Another of the scholars was the Muslim mystic Dhu al-Nun al-Misri, who grew up in the Upper Egyptian town of Akhmim in the early ninth century when most of the local inhabitants still spoke Coptic, the direct descendant of ancient Egyptian. Champollion would not have been able to decipher hieroglyphics without his own knowledge of Coptic, which died out in daily life in Egypt in medieval times but survives in liturgy.
"The manuscript I have shows [al-Misri] getting the Coptic all correct. The demotic is some of it correct and the hieroglyphic is some of it correct too," El Daly said... El Daly says the Muslim scholars give no indication of where they obtained their knowledge but he does not rule out the possibility that some residual knowledge of the old writing systems survived in remote parts of Upper Egypt. "What is wrong in Egyptology is that we assume that knowledge of the ancient Egyptian language completely died with the arrival of Islam," he added.
"I give two specific examples to show that the knowledge... was still alive when Muslims came to Egypt. The Muslims assumed that Egypt was a land of science and magic and wisdom, and as such they wanted to learn hieroglyphics to have access to such vast knowledge," he added. El Daly agreed with the widespread view that in early modern times most Arabs and Muslims took little interest in ancient cultures but noted that scholars continued to copy the early Muslim manuscripts on ancient Egypt well into the 18th century.
Deciphering Egyptian Hieroglyphs in Muslim Heritage
The topic of my talk is the decipherment process of ancient Egyptian scripts, particularly hieroglyphs. The very first scholar believed to have left a book, now missing, on the whole subject of decipherment, was named by later authors as Jabir Ibn Hayan, (8th century) the famous chemist who was said to have written an encyclopedic work on the decipherment of many ancient scripts including Egyptian. The above mentioned Al-Idrisi mentioned an Egyptian scholar called Ayub Ibn Maslamah (9th century) as a fluent decipherer of hieroglyphs who wrote a book on how to read them. This is also missing. Almost a contemporary of his, was the Sufi mystic Dhu Al-Nun Al-Misri who was familiar not only with Egyptian hieroglyphs but religious practices as well which led him to create a new Sufi discipline known as ‘Ilm Al-Ahwal wa Al-Maqamat, based mainly on Egyptian spiritual and philosophical thoughts. Some of his works on the decipherment of ancient scripts survived and is yet to be studied in depth and published…
The picture depicted in figure 3, extracted from an Arabic manuscript on astrology, probably shows a priest inside the Temple of Akhmim, one of the most important cities in Ancient Egypt that continued to serve as a great centre of learning well into the medieval period. One of the most important sources for the process of hieroglyphic decipherment, is the famous Sufi mystic Dhu Al-Nun Al-Misri, who lived inside that temple where he was brought up and it is said that he was fluent in the language of the walls of the temple i.e. hieroglyphs. This is just to show the interest of Arabic and Muslim scholars in these Egyptian temples and their reliefs and hieroglyphs. They used ancient Egyptian elements in building and sometimes decorating important parts of the mosques, yet there are still critics who say that Muslims did not like ancient monuments, and they used their stones as threshold at the entrance to mosques as a way of insulting and degrading ancient cultures showing the triumph of Islam over their monuments. Almost all the examples I know from Egypt serve as good examples to the opposite. We find beautiful ancient Egyptian blocks sometimes decorated with hieroglyphs, elevated to the top of the entrance of the mosque as a lintel, a remarkable eye-catching position. No Muslim going to pray will fail to notice these beautiful hieroglyphs on the top of the entrance of the mosque.