why did the Muhammad Ali dynasty not revive the title of "Pharaoh"?

was just researching the history of Egypt when a strange question hit me. background on this (sorry if this is redundant for you) from 1805 to 1953; modern Egypt was ruled as a monarchy by Muhammad Ali Pasha and his descendants. the monarch's title was Wāli from 1805 to 1867, Khedive from 1867 to 1914, sultan from 1914 to 1922, and king from 1922 to 1953. this is a thing that confuses me, did no one ever think of reviving the ancient and prestigous title of pharoh during that period. I am particularly suprised that Fuad I didn't do that. it seems like a perfect opportunity. was the idea considered but rejected in some way I am unaware of?

 
The Term “Pharaoh” is heavily associated with the Ancient Past, and by this point, it’s a pagan title for Muslim Egyptians. They could’ve used the Coptic term for king", ⲉⲣⲣⲟ (erro) / ⲟⲩⲣⲟ (ouro), which is derived from "pharaoh" but again, it’s a Coptic term, and the Dynasty was Muslim and a whole slew of ethnicities by this point, including Arab, Turkish, and Albanian
 
The title of Pharaoh had no power over the largely Muslim population except to incense them. For comparison, imagine Francisco Franco proclaiming himself Caliph. It wouldn't have gone down well.
 
Let’s see, assume the title which has over the centuries assumed a meaning of “evil megalomaniac ruler”. Just what could go wrong
Like Reagan at the height of the Cold War calling himself “Comrade president “
Interestingly when Sadat was attacked his assassins shouted they have killed the pharaoh
 
Phaaraoh was paganic title which wasn't used anymore centuries. Why take such title which last title carrier died centuries before birth of Prophet Mohammed and even long time before birth of Constantine the Great. Even Jesus wasn't born yet at this time when Cleopatra, last phaaraoh died. It just would be stupid take such title.
 
Phaaraoh was paganic title which wasn't used anymore centuries. Why take such title which last title carrier died centuries before birth of Prophet Mohammed and even long time before birth of Constantine the Great. Even Jesus wasn't born yet at this time when Cleopatra, last phaaraoh died. It just would be stupid take such title.
Actually, IIRC, Roman emperors used the title (or at least were called that by Egyptians) up until I think Maximinus Daza
 
Last edited:
Actually, IIRC, Roman emperors used the title (or at least were called that by Egyptians) up until I think Maximinus Daza

Did they really referred themselves as pharaoh or did just Egyptians saw them as pharaohs? I haven't heard any Roman emperor used personally title pharaoh but probably Egyptiasn unofficially called them such.
 
Did they really referred themselves as pharaoh or did just Egyptians saw them as pharaohs? I haven't heard any Roman emperor used personally title pharaoh but probably Egyptiasn unofficially called them such.
To my knowledge the title was only ever used in Egypt, and the emperors didn’t really care about the title, but they still technically had it in the Egyptian context.
 
Well there was a movement called Pharoanism. It has nothing to do with the dynasty just noting its existence.

There's a topical quote in that article, actually:

"Mohammad Ali the Great, the Albanian tobacco merchant turned Ottoman vali (governor) of Egypt and who ruled the country with an iron hand from 1805 until his death in 1849, had no interest in the ruins of ancient Egypt except as a source of gifts for foreign leaders."

So yeah, it seems Mohammad Ali was explicitly disinterested in Ancient Egypt and only cared to give away ancient baubles for self enrichment. He definitely wasn't the type to pick up a dead title with no value attached to it.
 
Phaaraoh was paganic title which wasn't used anymore centuries. Why take such title which last title carrier died centuries before birth of Prophet Mohammed and even long time before birth of Constantine the Great. Even Jesus wasn't born yet at this time when Cleopatra, last phaaraoh died. It just would be stupid take such title.
In large parts of the greater Muslim world, the word Pharaoh is used as an insult for a leader (and not necessarily a political one, it can be a boss or executive) who is unnecessarily demanding, capricious and oppressive. Indeed it’s almost divorced from its original context, though almost all are aware of it.

It would be akin to a western leader wanting to use the honored ancient classical title of “Dictator”.
 
There's a topical quote in that article, actually:

"Mohammad Ali the Great, the Albanian tobacco merchant turned Ottoman vali (governor) of Egypt and who ruled the country with an iron hand from 1805 until his death in 1849, had no interest in the ruins of ancient Egypt except as a source of gifts for foreign leaders."

So yeah, it seems Mohammad Ali was explicitly disinterested in Ancient Egypt and only cared to give away ancient baubles for self enrichment. He definitely wasn't the type to pick up a dead title with no value attached to it.
His successors, however, did show some interest. I mean, Verdi's Aida was commissioned by the Egyptian court for example.
 
There is a biography of King Faruk called The Last Pharao, but that is just a fancy title for the book.


While it is no totally impossible for Egypt to go that way, a bit like the Shah of Iran styled himself as heir to the old Persian Empire, it is not very likely.

Until 1914, Egypt was still formally part of the Osman Empire, a title of sultan did not challenge that.
Pharaoh likely would have.
King was already a much higher title, and considering that Egypt was still a half colonial state till after World War II, I don't see the moment, where that could have happened.


In my Faruk SI that I should really get back too, I never considered that. Caliph maybe, but not Pharaoh.
 
was just researching the history of Egypt when a strange question hit me. background on this (sorry if this is redundant for you) from 1805 to 1953; modern Egypt was ruled as a monarchy by Muhammad Ali Pasha and his descendants. the monarch's title was Wāli from 1805 to 1867, Khedive from 1867 to 1914, sultan from 1914 to 1922, and king from 1922 to 1953. this is a thing that confuses me, did no one ever think of reviving the ancient and prestigous title of pharoh during that period. I am particularly suprised that Fuad I didn't do that. it seems like a perfect opportunity. was the idea considered but rejected in some way I am unaware of?

Part of your question was already answered by others in that the title of Pharaoh is associated with the pagan past, but there's another important point to make about the titles used by the Khedivate. Namely, until 1914 Egypt is still legally part of the Ottoman Empire. Defacto that is not true of course, but the use of Wali and Khedive maintain that legal fiction. After 1914, they changed their titled to Sultan and later King to represent the fact that they were now legally independent of the Ottomans, and as such took kingly titles.
 
There is a biography of King Faruk called The Last Pharao, but that is just a fancy title for the book.


While it is no totally impossible for Egypt to go that way, a bit like the Shah of Iran styled himself as heir to the old Persian Empire, it is not very likely.

Until 1914, Egypt was still formally part of the Osman Empire, a title of sultan did not challenge that.
Pharaoh likely would have.
King was already a much higher title, and considering that Egypt was still a half colonial state till after World War II, I don't see the moment, where that could have happened.


In my Faruk SI that I should really get back too, I never considered that. Caliph maybe, but not Pharaoh.
'Shah', however, is just the Persian word for 'King', which has been used in the Persianate world as a title all along, Islamic period included.
The word carries some controversy in an Islamic religious context, for reasons boiling down to the idea that there are no human 'Kings' in Islam, strictly speaking, and because it might imply specifically the tradition of pre-Islamic Persian kingship. Tradition which has been integrated within the traditional Islamic discourse, but keeping its distinctiveness within it and its tie to a non-Islamic past. While the Muslim political concepts of rulership tend to differ markedly from the Iranian tradition, these have coexisted alongside each other since the Arab conquest of Iran, basically without interruption (albeit with a lot of ups and downs).
By contrast, Pharaoh is not merely an un-Islamic, mildly controversial concept. It is specifically the way Muslim Scripture, held to be literally Word of God, refers to impious arrogant tyrants who directly oppose God's will and refuse to put their faith in His power, as noted upthread with relevant similes. From a religious standpoint, there is very little wiggle room or ambiguity. Of course, in a modern nationalist context, you might be able to re-signify the term and decouple its Qur'anic and modern usages. But it is hard to see why anyone would need to bother, whereas 'King' is a less problematic word, which by the way is also how Ancient Egyptians actually called their 'Pharaohs'.
 
Last edited:
There's a topical quote in that article, actually:

"Mohammad Ali the Great, the Albanian tobacco merchant turned Ottoman vali (governor) of Egypt and who ruled the country with an iron hand from 1805 until his death in 1849, had no interest in the ruins of ancient Egypt except as a source of gifts for foreign leaders."

So yeah, it seems Mohammad Ali was explicitly disinterested in Ancient Egypt and only cared to give away ancient baubles for self enrichment. He definitely wasn't the type to pick up a dead title with no value attached to it.
IIRC wasn't Muhammad Ali looking to use Egypt as a spring board to form an empire to oust the Ottomans?
 
Top