Efforts of Arab Scholars in Deciphering the Symbols of the Ancient Egyptian Writing
It is appropriate to mention here that the Arab civilization, during its golden age, was not only interested in Ancient Egypt, but was also interested in Hieroglyphic writings. Muslim scholars considered Egypt as the land of science, magic and wisdom; and therefore they wanted to learn hieroglyphics to access this knowledge.
The Missing Millennium. Ancient Egypt in Medieval Arabic Writings” by Okasha El Daly is an invaluable resource showing the extent of efforts by Muslims to study and develop knowledge inherited from prior generations. In this book, El-Daly explores the varying areas of Egyptology in which Arab and Muslim scholars made profound discoveries while attempting to understand and conceptualize Egyptian culture and science. He analyses a number of works created by Arabic writers on Egyptian practices, providing proof of the unending interest in Egyptology by Muslims, invalidating the wide-spread idea that Muslims did not value pre-Islamic cultures and traditions.
In numerous libraries, such as the National Library of France or in other libraries in Turkey, many Arabic manuscripts contain schedules of vocal equivalents to some of the hieroglyphic signs (Pictures 1, 2, 3, 4). These manuscripts show that there were three Arab scholars who successfully deciphered ten hieroglyphic signs.
Most importantly, when the Medieval Europeans thought hieroglyphs were only magical symbols. Arab scholars were able to discover two basic rules about hieroglyphic writing:
1- Some symbols are sounds.
2- Other symbols express meaning of a complete word in a pictorial way.
We can mention two examples of Muslim scholars confirming that knowledge of Hieroglyphic writing still existed when Muslims came to Egypt.
The first of the two scholars was Ahmad ibn Abi Bakr ibn Wahshiyya, who lived in Iraq at the beginning of the Tenth Century CE. He wrote about everything, from chemistry to agriculture to pre-Islamic culture. A translation of  Ibn Wahshiyya's works about systems of ancient writing, Kitab Shawq al-Mustaham fi Maarefat Romooz Alaqlam was published in London, in 1806, under the title Ancient Alphabets with Hieroglyphic Characters.
Ibn Wahshiyya was the first scholar to state that symbols mean words.
The second scholar, was the Sufi Dhul-Nun al-Misri. He grew up in Upper Egypt, in the town of Akhmim, at the beginning of the Ninth Century CE when the majority of local residents were still speaking Coptic, a descendent of the language of the ancient Egyptians. Champollion would not have been able to decode the symbols of hieroglyphic without knowing Coptic, which disappeared from Egyptian daily life in the Middle Ages, and remained to be used only in Coptic Churches. The manuscript written by Dhul-Nun al-Misri shows that he knew Coptic.