In the Islamic world, Friday is the day of worship. Muslims are called to pray five times daily at regular intervals, but these are allowed to be performed anywhere. Friday, however, around noon, Muslims are expected to gather together to express their communal commitment to God, at which time a sermon is also delivered.
Once gathered together, Friday prayers provide opportunity for activism. At times this can simply reflect social presence, as seen during the revolution. Demonstrators moved from the mosque contra the urgings of most imams. Other times, it can be quite tied to religious fervor. Today, an imam led funeral prayers for bin Laden in absentia, and a few hundred worshippers followed him in demonstration toward the US Embassy. Tomorrow, hopefully, I can provide a report about this, in combination with a Coptic protest which went on simultaneously.
In today’s title, however, I hope instead to focus on my prayers for Egypt. In my head is an idea to place each Friday the text of a prayer reflecting my hopes, worries, and requests for this great country. We’ll see if the commitment holds, but I would invite you to pray along with me. The effort may evolve, as I will need to provide a balance between sufficient detail to inform the prayers, without overwhelming detail on matters mostly foreign. Today represents my first attempt; may God honor the intentions of all who beseech him, however misguided we all may sometimes be.
We are divided in many matters. Each person by nature believes what he does to be right and good. Honor each for their honorable intentions; purge each from their unknown evils; rebuke each for their known compromises. May each consider the interests of the other; may each place your principles as their guide.
Yet Muslims and Christians view these differently. Christians in Egypt are increasingly fearful, and Muslims in Egypt do not understand this fear. Help each to understand the other. Help each to forge purposeful relations with the other. Help each to commit to the good of the other.
Through demonstrations Egyptians have crafted a hopeful revolution. Now through demonstrations a spirit of confrontation continues. Each is due their right; many believe they must fight for it in the ways of this world. May each seek consensus, wherever it may be found, however difficult it is to obtain.
What is your will, God? Should noble Muslims be able to craft a state according to their religious principles? Should they defer to a civil state for the sake of their Christian kinsmen of different religion? Should noble Christians strive for democratic principles in which all enjoy freedom in a secular state? Should they defer to their Muslim kinsmen, trusting in the protection offered them through Islamic scriptures, knowing their kingdom is not of this world?
We are sinful, God, and our nobility is no protection from this. It seems any system will offend some, and every system may be abused by some. Protect us from those who seek their own interests. Yet help us to love and serve them all the same.
One of your creation died this week, God. He was reviled by many, yet respected by many. He was a man of sin, and a man of virtue. Forgive him his sins, God, as you forgive us our sins as well. We all believe we support the right; at times we are terribly mistaken.
Bless Egypt, God. Thank you for preserving her from harm today. Amen.