Comments on Egypt and Turmoil in the Arab-Muslim World
Egypt is in turmoil, but a new direction is in preparation. It will not be as MapQuest, putting in point A with the end point B known. The end point is unknown. There are desires, however. Those in the free world pray all those in Egypt can be free – free elections, freedom of speech, freedom of all religions, freedom of assembly and the highest regard for human rights. The Islamists (as distinguished from Islam – to include the Muslim Brotherhood) seek a theocracy, the laws of the land Allah’s laws as translated from the Quran, to include civil laws, administered and punished by the authorities in (elected even) power. Then there are the secularists that want civil laws separate from Allah’s laws, allowing for churches and mosques to govern their people accordingly, with god as the judge. They want to be able to dance and sing, even enjoy a beer or two, and freely elect their leaders at scheduled times. Common grace, consideration given to the rights of everyone, regardless of faith (or religion), may be influenced by God, God at work in the hearts of the leaders, with believers and un-believers sharing alike in protection from evil. The government job would be to maintain order, protect basic liberties, allow churches and mosques and synagogues to gather peacefully (and safely), to allow the people to share their beliefs in public without being subject to attack, and to feel safe at home.
Daniel Pipes in a recent Blog posting (2/9/2011 – http://www.danielpipes.org/9465/analyzing-the-turmoil) expressed a concern, “Islamists taking power in Egypt would change the balance of power in the Middle East.” No one knows the outcome but the strongest indicators from the US Media also tell us that this country may become subject to Islamists.
The United States does not understand events or the thinking of the people. In the Central Square of Cairo there have been Muslim clerics proclaiming the country needs a government that is all for Allah. Do you think it would be possible for any American, or the supporter of a democracy, a Christian or a Jew, to make similar pronouncements in the Central Square of Cairo? It would be nice and reflect on a desire for freedom of choice, but this is currently a moderate (in attitude) Islamic Country. Yet they do not care for un-Islam-believers, the infidels, or those that would promote their faith over Islam. This fact should not escape anyone.
The future of Egypt is in question. From a friend working in the medical community in Saudi Arabia, working with Egyptian doctors, he reported to me the following, “… People here are very happy for the Egyptians. The Egyptian doctors I work with were all highly elated to hear Mubarak resigned. They say that the Muslim Brotherhood is getting a disproportionate amount of news coverage and say they only have the support of a minority of Egyptians. I don’t think there’s any reason to believe that Egypt would in any way become an Islamic state like Iran or KSA. The social fabric is too diverse and secularized. It will be interesting to see what happens during the elections!” That does not mean that Islam would be secondary; it is saying that the fundamentalist aspect, the rigid view of Quranic Islam, is not the goal. It would appear a more secular, more liberal, governance would be preferred open to global ideas, unrestricted communications, and the freedom to select leaders and to get rid of leaders that are not protecting the people of Egypt from evil.
Matthew 5:45 reads, “…He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Governments are not just for believers, but un-believers as well, not just the fundamentalists, but the moderates as well. To those that govern and allow evil to befall its people, change will come. Change has come to Egypt. In many respects civil laws are mainly for the un-believers.
Who could possibly lead the youth of this country towards a democracy? How would free elections take place? Is democracy possible in a Muslim country? We have yet to see emerge an individual that could lead this vital nation to freedom. This is a sophisticated nation. The tribal culture of many Arab areas is not in play. Shifts in education may be reversed, as what was once in the past a population of graduates (late 1950’s) in Western dress now processes covered; that could change again. Must it be secular?
America needs to stay on the sidelines. Only if an individual or group comes forward that denounces a Muslim theocratic state, wanting a secular nation with freedom of religion, then we should consider supporting their desires. Historically, supporting Mubarak without an effort to find and support an organization, group, for a democratic Egypt, we have exposed this nation to potentially the worst of Islam.
The other question, more difficult to address is Israel. It will take a strong leadership, one tolerant of all faiths, to emerge and protect democratic Israel. It will take a leader not bent on killing or hating Jews. It will take a worldly view, a tolerant and accepting parliament that will protect and welcome all faiths back into Egypt, open the doors, the museums, the architectural wonders to travelers who will feel safe from attack by extremists. Might it even take a government bureaucracy that would allow new Churches and new Synagogues constructed to show how freedom has been embraced by the New Egypt.
One last point. Is an Egyptian an Arab? No. Is an Egyptian an Islamist? No. Is an Egyptian a Muslim? Some are. But is an Egyptian an Egyptian? Should Egypt allow itself to be absorbed into the Arab world? Should it take the opportunity today as a Country to reassert its historical, meaningful, contributions to the world as Egypt, with early civilization established near and upon its land? As Raymond Ibrahim (associate director of the Middle East Forum) writes, “…as turmoil engulfs Egypt, it is well to remember that, fundamentally, who the Egyptians see themselves as will determine who they will be. Egypt’s future begins when Egyptians see themselves as Egyptians—not Arabs, and certainly not Islamists. This is not to say that Egyptians should resurrect the pharaonic language, dress like Imhotep, and worship cats. Rather, as Taha Hussein and others till this day maintain, the Egyptian identity needs to be resurrected, thereby allowing all of the nation’s sons and daughters to work together for a better future—without the dead weight of foreign encumberments, namely Arabism or, worse, Islamism.” [Pajamas Media, February 14, 2011 – http://www.meforum.org/2832/egypt-identity-crisis] This is the Egypt I studied, its tombs, its Pharoah’s, its pyramids, and the Sphinx, all symbols of a history unto itself, distinct, unique, of which we have become a part. It is the Egypt where Joseph became a leader, Moses was raised by a Pharoah’s daughter, and where the people of God lived and worked for hundreds of years to then be led to a new land. May Egyptians never forget their heritage.
We pray for a new free Egypt, an open culture exhibited for all to see and enjoy, a government structure that embraces civility and good, and hating all evil. May there be a rebirth in education where all faiths are taught and doubts are encouraged and addressed. May there be a desire to be a productive country where jobs abound, where the want to work and find work happens, where the creative and inventive spirit of humans finds a forum to demonstrate how the foundations of civilization can become a new light in the Arab and the free world.
Grace and Peace,