It began with gifted individuals who dreamed of creating something bigger than themselves, such as their own nation, country, and long-lived dynasty, as it did with all great rulers from history books. Muhammad Ali was one of those powerful individuals who was able to realize his dream.
Origin of Muhammad Ali Pasha
Muhammad Ali Pasha “4 March 1769 – 2 August 1849” began as an Ottoman Albanian commander in the Ottoman army and rose to become Egypt’s ruler. Because of his extensive reforms to Egypt’s economic, military, and cultural aspects, he is regarded as the father and founder of modern Egypt. He used his leadership abilities, political intelligence, and cunning to bring peace, prosperity, law, and order to Egypt, transforming it into a true superpower with global influence at the time.
How Did Muhammad Ali Pasha Conquer Egypt?
In 1798, Egypt was under the weak leadership of the Ottoman Empire but was also occupied by French forces under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte himself who destroyed the Mamluk rulers on the battlefield in 1801 the French forces had to withdraw leaving a vacuum which Muhammad Ali took advantage of by naming himself the ottoman “Wali” governor of Egypt to take control of the Ottoman army to re-occupy the province but he had other plans. He used the general public’s and religious establishment’s support to work toward gaining more control and charge of the country and eliminating the Mamluks, who had ruled Egypt for more than 600 years.
On March 1, 1181, the Mamluks gathered in the Cairo citadel, and Muhammad Ali’s troops began slaughtering all sixty-four Mamluks, including twenty-four commanders. He then dispatched his troops throughout Egypt to destroy any remaining Mamluk forces. He yearned to establish his own dynasty and kingdom independent of the decaying Ottoman Empire, which is why he transformed Egypt into a regional power and declared himself the rightful successor. His dynasty ruled Egypt from its inception in 1805 until the Egyptian Revolution in 1953 AD.
Achievements of Muhammad Ali Pasha in Egypt
He realized that in order to detach Egypt from the Ottoman Empire and make it truly independent, he needed a more powerful economic and military force. He devised an agricultural strategy in which he planted crops solely for exportation, such as rice, sugarcane, and cotton. All agricultural production and export revenue was used to fund public works and national projects such as irrigation, canals, dams, and barrages. He also disbanded his foreign army and established a fleet and army of pure Egyptians commanded by Turks and trained in warfare by French commanders. He also began an educational revolution by establishing Western-style schools and universities to train doctors, engineers, veterinarians, and other specialists. He dispatched educational expeditions to Europeans trained in modern techniques to supplement his bureaucrats.
He began the Egyptian industrial age by constructing factories to produce sugar, glass, and textiles that competed with European products, as well as ships and weapons for the new army and navy. There was a dark side to his master plan as well, as he added excessive taxation to pay for all of his expensive projects, which caused him to lose a lot of public support. His monopolization of world trade grew as a result of his over-control of agriculture, resulting in a strained relationship and exchange with Britain, which saw Egypt as a threat to their economic influence. In 1831, he attempted to expand his empire by invading Syria but was stopped by the combined forces of Britain, France, and Russia. Muhammad Ali had no choice but to sign the 1841 treaty, which required him to relinquish all conquered territory except Sudan in exchange for the hereditary governorship of Egypt for life.
The Legacy of Muhammad Ali Pasha
In 1848, he passed the rule of Egypt to his son Ibrahim, who died soon after, and he died in 1849. He was able to leave a significant legacy, which can be seen in Cairo’s famous Muhammad Ali mosque. Egypt became a powerful nation under his rule as a result of a series of rapid economic expansions and modernizations, and he joined the international community of nations as an independent state rather than as a province of the Ottoman Empire. He established a powerful army based on scientific principles, opened Egypt to European commerce and trade, and, most importantly, improved education to European standards. He transformed Egypt into industrial Egypt and established modern Egypt.
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