The new realities of Egypt, buttressed by its new constitution, place religion front and center in politics and policy. This means a new and developed importance to all her religious leaders.
The newest of these is the mufti, elected for the first time by the council of senior scholars in the Azhar. The Azhar, of course, holds prominence among all sheikhs, first in history, now in law. The institution must be consulted on all matters which touch the Islamic sharia.
But the mufti also is influential. He heads Dar al-Ifta’, responsible for issuing hundreds of religious rulings each day, as Muslims inquire. These range from the mundane to the controversial; in the past, even the presidential.
As could be anticipated, God, the position was contested. A prominent Muslim Brother was a nominee, a less well-known Brother finished second. Not much is known widely about the winner, though he is suspected to be generally non-political. He may not be able to remain so much longer.
Give him wisdom, God. But give even greater wisdom to Egypt. Do you desire those who speak in your name to influence and possibly determine the path of the state? Will this bring the best scholars forward, or corrupt those who dare advance?
In light of his appointment, bless him and all others who serve you through their religious traditions. Political or otherwise, they help shape the worldview and ethics of many in Egypt.
For the pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church, guide his stewardship of Egypt’s Christians. Give him wisdom to spiritually guide his community amid the many challenges Egypt faces. Give him discernment for when his guidance must also be political – or if it should never be. May he be a man of peace and unity; bless him especially among his family of bishops. Help them to encourage their flock toward humility, grace, and love.
For Egyptian Christian priests and pastors of other denominations, encourage them in their particulars while remaining organic with the whole. May they honor and respect the Orthodox, even as they present alternatives. May their interactions mutually benefit the spirituality of all communities.
For the Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar, the Grand Mufti, and local imams within their oversight, grant them understanding of the changing nature of Egypt. May they lead their faithful in piety and prayer. May they study their sources to encourage right conduct toward state and society. May they present a vision of Islam that corresponds with your desire. Bless them and aid them in enriching the fabric of Muslim and interreligious relations.
For the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi sheikhs that have emerged politically, honor their insistence that values of religion belong in the public square. Guide them in their interactions with those who define this differently, that consensus and respect might result. Bless their efforts to encourage Egyptians to be upright, faithful, and God-fearing. May they nurture a renaissance that blesses all.
God, may all the above know your will for themselves and their communities. Endow Egypt with the virtue of faith; spare her the vice of fanaticism.
Help Egyptians to know the difference, to know you, and to know what you require of them – in this world and the next.