Friday Prayers for Egypt: Delaying Constitutional Confict

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It has been three months since Morsi’s ouster, and the first step in the announced transitional roadmap is still underway. It is, in many ways, the linchpin. The constitution is to be amended and presented to the people in referendum.

When it comes, the Brotherhood will have to make a choice: Vote no or boycott. But the primary Salafi party has made their choice to participate, while deferring the choice of consequence: Yes or no.

Salafis possess nearly inconsequential power in the mechanics of the constitution: They are one vote out of fifty. But they possess great legitimizing power. Without them on board the removal of Morsi is much more easily portrayed as an attack on Islam, or at the least, Islamism.

In exchange they want the religious identity and sharia provisions of the old constitution preserved. As the committee of fifty does its work to revise, they tackle the easier questions first. These are left for later.

God, the Salafi party has been praised for having great political acumen; give them also great wisdom, for they are not necessarily the same.

As the Islam and sharia principles are debated one-by-one, help them to know where to yield and where to stand firm. Where, God, is the proper point of consensus?

And as they go back to their supporters, give them the skill to communicate their choices. Having earlier been maximalist in their demands under Morsi, can they now justify an accepted minimalism? Will it be a valuable political lesson for newly politicized religious conservatives? Or will their earlier rhetoric eat them alive?

Or, might you use these men to lead their supporters deeper into the multi-particular national good?

But God, what if the national good is non-Salafi, as many of the fifty will argue? Give them wisdom if they don’t get enough of their way, or anything at all.

Should they accept? Should they vote no? Should they demonstrate? Should they mount a new revolution?

So give wisdom also to the committee at large. What of Salafi demands is in the national good? To be certain this good involves diligent discussion of a significantly popular viewpoint.

Perhaps there is wisdom, God, in handling easier articles first. There is still time to complete their task. But help the committee to avoid deadline deals from political expediency.

Rather, let this discussion find space now in the national debate: How should the political claims of Islam, as interpreted by some, be incorporated into the political system of a nation, as experienced by all? In their entirety, in continual negotiation, or not at all?

Your answer, God, determines how Egyptians should both pray and politic. Pull as many to your side as possible, in sincere conviction and purity of heart.

And for those who remain in other opinions, honor them also. May they never willfully fight against you, and may they never be fought against as if on your behalf. Knit these together into one nation, where you are present in the messy workings of men, in all their insincerity and impurity.

And in this, God, give them a wise and worthy constitution. Do not delay the conflict, but resolve it in the end, with embraces all around.


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