Friday Prayers for Egypt: Easter Greetings

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There is much that Egyptian Muslims and Christians agree upon, much which unites the two and allows them to pray similarly. But at one point the religions are rather irreconcilable: Jesus was not crucified, and therefore was not resurrected. There is no Easter, celebrated by Copts this coming Sunday.

Fair enough. There are plenty of common troubles in Egypt these days. But Easter risks becoming another one, a further point of division in a polarized nation.

God, may it not be so.

The Egyptian status quo of good neighborliness has Muslims and Christians exchange greetings on all their holidays. The Muslim purist status quo of Islamic fidelity forbids congratulating religious error. Both have been around for some time.

The purists have generally been confined to Salafis, but now the Muslim Brotherhood is caught in the middle. Their mufti has given allowance to greet on Christmas, but Easter should be avoided.

The middle ground makes some sense, as Muslims accept Jesus as a prophet born miraculously from the Virgin Mary. But in Muslim eyes Christians are in religious error to hold the prophet born as the Son of God; why should neighborliness cover one and not the other?

God, bless the purists and give them wisdom and discernment. Honor them for fidelity to unpopular conviction, especially as many behave as good neighbors every day of the year. Give them love for these neighbors even as they seek to guide them to the right path. May it be for the sake of truth, and involve no division or discrimination.

God, bless the Copts as they interpret this refusal as a public insult. Honor them for fidelity to minority religion, especially as many esteem Muslims for their faith every day of the year. Give them patience and grace for those who find offense in them. May it result in greater love between all and honest discussion in that which divides.

But for all who play with the issue, God, issue your divine condemnation. Some purists seek to isolate the Copts and those who stand with them. Some non-Islamists seek to demonize their opponents as agents of social disintegration. Where accusations are true may you muffle their voice and end their influence.

The Easter issue does not warrant such rhetoric, God; calm things down. If you gave your son to be crucified your followers can take an insult. If you alone rescued your prophet from violent rejection your followers can allow you to continue this battle.

God, you know best the truths of religion, but you know also the needs of Egypt. Help the people to mind the balance, finding both in love and unity.



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