Friday Prayers for Egypt: Authority and Margin

Flag Cross QuranGod,

The official space has been claimed. First, in response to massive protests the military removed Morsi from power and installed a transitional civilian government. Second, they closed down media sympathetic to a Brotherhood viewpoint. Third, they removed the standing pro-Morsi protests with much resulting bloodshed. And fourth, they jailed many Islamist leaders who stand accused of promoting violence. Each step of the way negotiations failed.

In each of these steps the transitional government has claimed both popular authority and that of the state, forcing Brotherhood sympathizers to the margins.

From there the response has been varied. In Sinai armed rebellion rages. In Upper Egypt churches were attacked. In various villages police stations were assaulted. And in many streets throughout the nation, small peaceful protests continue.

God, you care for those in authority and those in the margins. But those occupying each choose to struggle against each other.

The police recently reclaimed two margins; a sustained assault returned state authority to villages in Upper Egypt and Giza. The Brotherhood called them an attack against the people, who oppose the coup.

The ongoing rallies are a response from the margin; a sustained assault on state authority emerges as Islamists lay claim to the mantle of the youthful revolution. So far, the state permits them.

There is much to sort, God, and too much to decipher. Where do your principles direct?

You install leaders, God, which never implies your endorsement. But you do grant them authority to govern and maintain order.

In this time of crisis, God, give them wisdom with this rod. Your concerns go beyond governance and order; you care for compassion and justice. Help them to rule not simply with might, but also with heart. May the state ensure a society of opportunity and freedom.

But from the perspective of Islamists, this now only exists in the margins. As they push back against authority they risk – or rather actively disobey – the stability of the state. The margins are distant from official power, but they can choke it. With state authority weakened since the revolution, how much of Egypt is margin altogether?

Your prophets, God, have generally come from the margins. They call out against an improper order which has turned away from your principles. They have marshalled your power, God, and not sought their own.

In this time of crisis, God, give Islamists wisdom with this heritage. Your concerns go beyond criticism and protest; you care for vision and righteousness. Help them to demonstrate not simply from frustration, but also with reflection. May their movement serve the building of a better Egypt.

God, you possess all authority and power, and yet you choose to dwell in the margins. Reveal yourself to those in both places, that the fabric which binds them together may not be torn irreparably.

Amen.

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