A group of Muslims and Christians have come together in Egypt to give their time to help the needy of society.
In the Cairo district of Masr El-Qadima, they are putting together Ramadan boxes, filled with basic food items and provisions, which have been donated by volunteers.
For the past three years, landlord Atef William has been hosting the activities of an organization called “Helm Establ Antar”, meaning the dream of Establ Antar, the area where it takes place.
“We are all equals, we are Egyptians,” he says. “I was brought up not to differentiate between people on the basis of religion.”
Much like Masr El-Qadima, the middle-class district of Shobra is considered to have a high level of social coexistence with friendly residents.
Gamil Banayouty is a Christian. He organises an iftar tent that has been set every Ramadan for the last 40 years. He works alongside elderly men who were teenagers when the activity first started.
“Our Ramadan table is called the National Unity Media, and it’s open to everyone – Muslims, Christians, we don’t differentiate,” he explains. “As for me, I’ve been attached to the month of Ramadan since the October War [1973 Arab–Israeli War]. I was an officer, and we were fighting during Ramadan, and I could not not fast with my soldiers. ”
Banayouty and his neighbours are very proud to have kept the iftar activity going for such a long time and they continue to reap the reward of the unity it brings between their community.
Christians around the world are being urged to sign a letter to the loved ones of a Muslim police officer who sacrificed his life to save hundreds of churchgoers in Egypt.
Abid, along with other officers, was responding to a bomb discovered on the roof of the Virgin Mary and Father Seifin Church in Nasr City, near Cairo, when it detonated and killed him, injuring three others.
The incident took place a day before the Coptic Christian Christmas Eve, and as International Christian Concern noted, fears are that hundreds of Christians, including children, would have been killed if the expositions had gone off as planned.
“By signing onto this letter, I wish to express my highest praise, deepest gratitude, and heartfelt sympathy for your injuries and loss incurred while following your conscience and your duty on Jan. 5, 2019. Your actions ensured that hundreds of Egyptian men, women, and children were not unjustly murdered during a deadly attack on the Virgin Mary and Father Seifin Church,” begins the letter which is also addressed to members of the bomb squad.
“I wish to thank the members of the bomb squad and various police officers who put themselves in danger for the sake of others. I pray for complete healing for all who were injured. I also join in mourning with the family of Major Mustafa Abid and express my heartfelt sorrow for your tragic loss,” it continues.
“The Bible says, ‘Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ I believe that Major Abid’s actions demonstrated that kind of love, and I honor him for it.”
A video made by the Egyptian Fatwa Institute and uploaded to YouTube earlier this month encourages Muslims to extend holiday greetings to Christians and to maintain friendly relations with those around them, regardless of their religion.
“Congratulating non-Muslims during their holidays is encouraged by Islam, and is in keeping with the noble manners introduced by the Prophet Muhammad,” the narrator says, in a translation provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
Hebaa Saad Hashash, a Muslim teacher in the city of Mallawi in Minya, started an initiative with her Muslim girl students to clean a Coptic church in order to promote peace and tolerance among Christians and Muslims.
In an interview with Al Arabiya, she said that she did it for her country and fellow Copts who have been living in harsh conditions following the recent terrorist incident on the Monastery of St. Samuel.
She added that it is her duty as an educator and school director to set an example for younger children of peace and coexistence between religions.
The initiative was praised in social media sites in Egypt, showing the photos of Muslim girls cleaning the church in Mallawi that revealed the spirit of tolerance and unity between Muslims and Copts in Egypt.
The Christian community in Minya have always been the centre of sectarian tension. Earlier in July, the Christian community in another Minya village faced a mob of extremists attacking their church after it received approval.
CAIRO (RNS) – Four years ago, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi called on state-supported Muslim clerics “to improve the image of Islam in front of the world.”
In response, Islamic religious authorities are allowing Muslim women to be heard. Over the past three months, the clerics have announced that women can now serve as preachers in mosques and schools, serve on governing boards and sing in choirs dedicated to liturgical music.
“These measures show that Islam can grow in an open encounter with other faiths,” said Wafaa Abdelsalam, a 38-year-old female physician appointed by the government’s Ministry of Religious Endowments to give two sermons a week at a pair of influential mosques in the Cairo suburbs. “The audience for my Ramadan talks has been mostly upper-middle-class women who until recently have felt they have had nobody to talk to about how Islam fits into their lives.”
About 70 percent of mosques in Egypt have separate prayer areas for women, according to the Endowments Ministry. But the move to introduce women preachers – wa’ezzat in Arabic – marks the first time females have formally addressed worshippers in these spaces as officially sanctioned clergy.
“Religious education here is a chance for women to ask me questions about personal matters, including marriage problems, and to debate the merits and drawbacks of the choice to wear or not wear the (hijab) headscarf,” said Abdelsalam.
The wa’ezzat are following sermon guidelines set by the Endowments Ministry, she added.