Circassians in Egypt

The Circassians in Egypt refers to people of present-day Egypt who descended from Circassians, the European ethnic group native to Northwest Caucasus (today Russia). They were deeply rooted in Egyptian society and the history of the country. For centuries, Circassians have been part of the ruling elite in Egypt, having served in high military, political and social positions.[1] The Circassian presence in Egypt traces back to 1297 when Lajin became Sultan of Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt. Under the Burji dynasty, Egypt was ruled by twenty one Circassian sultans from 1382 to 1517.[2][3][4] Even after the abolishment of the Mamluk Sultanate, Circassians continued to form much of the administrative class in Egypt Eyalet of Ottoman Empire, Khedivate of Egypt, Sultanate of Egypt and Kingdom of Egypt.[1] Following the Revolution of 1952, their political impact has been relatively decreased.

Circassians in Egypt
Regions with significant populations
Alexandria, Cairo, Giza, Port Said, Sharqia Governorate
Sunni Muslim (predominant)

Although many Egyptian Circassians exhibit physical characteristics attributed to their forefathers, those with far-removed Circassian ancestry were assimilated into other local populations over the course of time. With the lack of censuses based on ethnicity, population estimates vary significantly. Mainly of mixed Abaza, Adyghe and Arab origin, the Abaza family is the largest extended family with more than 50,000 members in the country.[5][6][7][8] One of Egypt's richest families, the family has played a long-standing role in Egyptian business life.


Circassians in Egypt have a long history. They arrived in Egypt during the Mamluk and Ottoman era, although a small number migrated as muhajirs in the late 19th century as well. The Circassians in Egypt were very influential from the 13th century. To a certain extent, they shared the same role as their other Circassian brethren who lived in neighbouring Ottoman Turkey; many were importees, deportees, slaves, but also made up many of the notable noble families, while many others were kingmakers, royal consorts, military commanders, soldiers, craftsmen and artists.


Circassians in Egypt are almost exclusively Sunni Muslim.


Notable Egyptians of either partial or full Circassian descent include:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Lewis, Martin W. The Circassian Mystique and its Historical Roots. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  2. ^ McGregor, Andrew James (2006). A Military History of Modern Egypt: From the Ottoman Conquest to the Ramadan War. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 15. ISBN 9780275986018. By the late fourteenth century Circassians from the north Caucasus region had become the majority in the Mamluk ranks.
  3. ^ Massoud, Sami G. (2007). The Chronicles and Annalistic Sources of the Early Mamluk Circassian Period. Leiden: Brill Publishers.
  4. ^ Natho, Kadir I. (2009). Circassian History. Xlibris Corporation.[self-published source]
  5. ^ "Rushdi Abaza, AlexCinema". Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  6. ^ Afaf Lutfi Sayyid-Marsot, Egypt in the reign of Muhammad Ali Pasha, pp. 123–124.
  7. ^ Yunan Labib Rizk, The making of a king, Al-Ahram Weekly, 762, 29 September – 5 October 2005.
  8. ^ Goldschmidt, Jr., Arthur (2000). Biographical Dictionary of Modern Egypt. Lynne Rienner Publishers. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-55587-229-8. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  9. ^ "Queen Farida, King Farouk's first wife | Egypt Independent". Retrieved 2017-04-06.