Tue Jan 8, 2013, 08:37 PM
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Guestview: Yes to interfaith harmony, no to religious police in Egypt
By Guest Contributor
January 8, 2013
The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Ali Gomaa is the Grand Mufti of Egypt.
By Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa
The beginning of a new year presents us with an opportunity to engage in serious introspection and take account of ourselves and the communities in which we live. This is a particularly pressing need within the context of contemporary Egypt, which continues to pass through a sensitive period of transition. The events of the past year, indeed of the past two years, underscore the absolute necessity of maintaining national unity in our beloved land. Acrimonious political debates must not detract us from this overriding imperative.
Perhaps the most important matter that needs to be addressed in Egypt today is the promotion of interreligious harmony. It is no secret that our Christian brothers and sisters have sometimes been made to feel uncomfortable during an unstable period. This is why the I have have made a special effort during this Christmas season to publicaly congratulate all of Egypt’s Christian churches on their holidays. In a statement, I prayed that the spirit of the holidays prevails and that all the country’s citizens – indeed, all citizens of the world – strengthen their resolve to work for the spreading of love, peace on Earth, goodwill and the brotherhood of all.
I also took the occasion to clarify that wishing Christians well on the birth of the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) is in fact a praiseworthy and encouraged action within Islam because it is a verbal expression of the desire to promote peaceful and harmonious relations between neighbors, fellow citizens and brothers and sisters in mankind. Indeed, the births of the prophets are landmark historical events. They represent a sudden flourish of divinely inspired men who come to Earth to preach peace and security and to spread a message of happiness and guidance to humanity at large. As I prayed on the occasion of Christmas, “I beseech God to increase our precious Egypt in fraternal sentiment, love, strong relations and goodness, and to preserve our blessed land as a symbol of peace and security always.”
I went on to stress the importance of all citizens partaking in one another’s occasions and celebrations by wishing them well and congratulating them, for we are today in dire need of spreading feelings of brotherhood and national unity and curbing divisions. Muslims and Christians alike are encouraged to transform sentiments of solidarity into true unity for the sake of the welfare of Egypt, and not in the interests of individual advancement or sectarian gain. This is crucial so that we may leave to future generations a pluralistic, humane culture at the root of which is true faith, a commitment to justice and love between the peoples of this great land.
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