Academic journal article Asian Culture and History

Plagues, Epidemics and Their Social and Economic Impact on the Egyptian Society during the Mameluke Period (648 Hegira /1250 AD-923 Hegira /1517 AD)

Academic journal article Asian Culture and History

Plagues, Epidemics and Their Social and Economic Impact on the Egyptian Society during the Mameluke Period (648 Hegira /1250 AD-923 Hegira /1517 AD)

Article excerpt

Abstract

The study aims at shedding light on plagues and epidemics that hit Egypt during the Mameluke period through describing the plague disease and the plagues and epidemics that hit Egypt and the social and economic impact on the Egyptian society. The study is based on some historical sources that are contemporary of the Mameluke period, especially the book "Al-Suluk li-marifatiduwal Al-muluk" by Al-Maqrizi and we reach the following conclusions through this research:

- Plagues are bacterial and lethal epidemics that spread fast, and have the symptoms of high temperature nausea, and severe fatigue. Most plagues that hit Egypt during the Mameluke era were very severe, and that what is usually referred to as the Great plague or Black Death, where the patient dies within one week of having the disease.

- The plagues had harsh social effects on the population, where it caused the death of individuals, and damaged hundreds of Egyptian villages and cities, The conditions of the society almost came a halt, and were an impetus for the people to bind in social solidarity, and the true repentance to Allah the almighty, and the increase of worship and alms hoping that Allah the almighty will shield the people from this disease.

- The plagues and epidemics led to disorder and disruption of the economic conditions of the society, where most land was leftwithout farming and most trades and crafts were disrupted and earnings hit lows in the markets and trade was in recession in commerce and trade in general.

Keywords: plagues, epidemics, Egypt, mameluke, society, disruption, social, economic, disease

1. Introduction

The study aims at shedding light on plagues and epidemics that hit Egypt during the Mameluke period through describing the plague disease and the plagues and epidemics that hit Egypt, and their social and economic effects on the Egyptian society, The study is based on some historical sources contemporary of the Mameluke period, especially the book "Al-Suluk li-marifatiduwal Al-muluk" by Al Maqrizi.

1.1 The Description of the Plague Disease and Epidemics

The plague is a well-known disease "where the air is polluted, Thus spoiling the moods and the bodies" (Ibn Manzour, 1900) and among the people of medicine "a bad tumor and comes out with it a very painful inflammation that exceeds the limit in that, and the area around it becomes mostly black or (yellow) and blisters fast and in most cases occurs in three areas: in the armpit behind the ear tip of the nose, and the softflash (Ibn Al Qayyim, 2002).

The cause of the plague as mentioned by Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyah "a bad blood that leans towards corruption and putrescence and does not improve and corrupts the organ and may ooze blood and pus ,and spoils the heart and causes vomiting, palpitation and syncope" fainting this name Though includes every tumor that leads to the heart and becomes fatal, it is more specific regarding the endocrine flesh, attacking only the weakest organs that take it because it is so corrupt and foul, and the worst that occurs in the armpit and behind the ears because of the proximity to the organs in the head and the least damaging is the one with red color, then the yellow color, as for the one with the black color. No one even escapes that (Ibn Al-Qayyim, 2002).

Every plague is an epidemic but not every epidemic is aplague and since that plague is an epidemic disease, Islam affirmed the necessity that no one enters or leaves the areas where it spreads, The Prophet peace be upon him said: The plague is a wrath, so if you hear that it is in acertain area, do not enter there, and if it occurs in an area while you are there, do not leave that area as an escape, When the prophet, peace be upon him, was asked about the plague he said: a gland like that of a camel that comes out in the hypochondrium and the armpit (Ibn Al-Qayyim, 2002).

We derive from the historical sources that talked about plagues that hit Egypt, that plague is a bacterial epidemic disease of high temperature level and the some of its symptoms are, sharp increase, in temperature, nausea, and severe fatigue (Al-Maqrizi, 1971; Ibn Taghri Bardi, 1992), and acute catarrh that descends from brain to chest (Al-Maqrizi, 1971). …

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