Friday Prayers for Egypt: Eid Disappointment, and Disappointment?

Flag Cross Quran


The Eid holiday should be one of rejoicing. Abraham’s dutiful obedience in sacrificing his son is replaced with elation as a substitute is given. Muslim families slaughter a sheep in celebration, distributing a third to the poor, a third to neighbors and relations, and enjoying a feast with the rest.

But this Eid opened with severe disappointment, if ultimately trivial compared to the state of the nation. There is fear it may close with disappointment as well, though far from trivial for the future of the nation.

Egypt has not participated in the World Cup since 1990, despite unparalleled success in the African Cup. This year all that stood in their way was a home-and-home series with Ghana. On the first day of the Eid, away, the Pharaohs lost 6-1. Their hopes are all but shattered.

The final days of the Eid brought a significant statement. A leader in al-Gama’a al-Islamiya and a staunch supporter of Morsi declared a political solution to Egypt’s divisions would soon emerge after the holiday. Negotiations were ongoing between the Muslim Brotherhood and the army, he said, with both realizing they cannot defeat the other. A compromise could be in the works.

God, perhaps this is the sensibility and breakthrough Egypt needs. Perhaps not. It is this latter thought that will have millions of Egyptians disappointed should it come to pass.

Non-Islamists have rejoiced, God. The nation is finally rid of the poisonous Brotherhood.

Islamists have fumed, God. The nation was usurped by the murderous army.

So if instead they cut a deal, what will become of the partisans who rallied on both sides? Can they accept their fervor was engineered and used as a negotiating tactic?

God, in whatever side is right, wherever there is right, bring transparency and justice. At the same time, bring dialogue and consensus. Holding together all these principles, sort out the details in fairness and respect.

But heal the souls of Egyptians torn asunder in this dispute. Honor their zeal, but assuage their anger. Reveal whatever is ugly in their pursuit of Egypt’s best.

Egypt could have benefitted from World Cup joy, God, but your providence did not see fit to yield it. Maybe the panacea would only mask the hurt the nation still suffers. Give them a real unity soon.

Perhaps the Eid was this beginning. Egyptians prayed together in squares and mosques throughout the country. Few tensions were reported. For a moment all was quiet.

May it last, God. Pursue all criminals. But may the good people of Egypt find ways to transcend their differences in a spirit of peace and humility.

Many Egyptians have been willing to sacrifice all they have, even their lives, for the triumph of a particular vision. Give them a fitting substitute, God. Give them all reason to rejoice.



Friday Prayers for Egypt: Eid Sacrifices


Millions of Egyptians celebrated the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice; many also witnessed the sacrifice of others over religion.

In some places Egyptians battled either institutions or each other over control of the main public squares – and with it, the right to lead the holiday sermon.

In other places the sermon itself displayed opposition to certain elements of the Egyptian population.

Likely, for most, it was a simple day of remembrance and revelry.

Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son in your name, God, but you stopped him. Likewise, many Egyptians appear willing to sacrifice each other in your name.

For Abraham, you provided a substitute. Will there be a similar scapegoat in Egypt? If so, who?

God, save Egypt and her people from this fate. May no son of the Nile be placed upon the altar; may no son of the Nile place another human being there.

What then will redeem Egyptian politics, God? How do sacrifices end?

Perhaps the answer lies in keeping the concept but changing the recipient. Is it possible for Egyptians to place themselves on the altar?

Can you raise up leaders, God, who will self-sacrifice – not for their cause – but for the other? Can you provide those who will risk and ruin their own reputations by defending all semblance of righteousness in the cause of the other?

Find these men, God, and promote them. Honor them and make them examples. May their courage expose the self-service of all who care only for their limited understanding.

Keep Egypt in faith, God, the faith that you will preserve the good however much discipline and repentance you must engender along the way.

And in the end, may even self-sacrifice fade away as Egypt self-embraces, and then embraces all others.

May only the remembrance and revelry of distant sacrifices remain.