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.