“Cairo is the Main Castle of Islam”: Kaiserswerth Deaconesses’ Nursing in Nineteenth Century Egypt and the Importance of Converting Muslims


  • Rania Ashour Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg




Research on the Kaiserswerth Deaconess Institution’s ‘home mission’ (Innere Mission) abroad has long assumed that the conversion of non-Christians played a subordinate role compared to the evangelisation of the Christian population. The recent example of the Kaiserswerth mission in the Middle East and the analysis of the encounter between deaconesses and locals has shown that this was not necessarily the case. This article joins the new research trend and examines the context of the missionary efforts towards Muslims in Protestant hospitals in Egypt from the middle of the nineteenth century. As a contribution to global history, this paper includes the perspective of the non-Christians living in Egypt, especially Muslims, and their interactions with the German missionaries. This study finds that some actors of the Kaiserswerth Deaconess Institute, including the deaconesses, had more agency over the practice of the missionary work than the mission’s founder Theodor Fliedner, specifically seeking to convert Muslims. In addition, by examining the motherhouse journal of the deaconesses, this study demonstrates that Egyptian Muslims were not merely passive receptors of conversion efforts, but also actors who supported or rejected the missionary hospitals.