Religion In Egypt


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A short presentation about the important role religion plays in Egypt.

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Religion In Egypt

  1. 1. Past, Present and Future
  2. 2. <ul><li>Without the ancient Egyptian Religion, there would probably be little reason for one to visit Egypt today. </li></ul><ul><li>The great Pyramids would not exist, nor of course, would there be the fabulous temples , the tombs on the West Bank of Thebes (modern Luxor) and their mummies , or the colorful decorations that adorn these structures that have lured travelers to Egypt over the past three thousand or so years. </li></ul>Religion of Ancient Egypt
  3. 3. Polytheism and Monotheism <ul><li>Religion guided every aspect of Egyptian life. Egyptian religion was based on polytheism, or the worship of many deities, except for during the reign of Akenaton . </li></ul>
  4. 4. Gods and Goddesses <ul><li>The Egyptians had as many as 2000 gods and goddesses. Some, such as Amun , were worshipped throughout the whole country, while others had only a local following. Often gods and goddesses were represented as part human and part animal. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Egyptian God ANUBIS
  6. 6. Gods and Goddesses <ul><li>Their two chief gods were Amon-Ra and Osiris . Amon-Ra was believed to be the sun god and the lord of the universe. Osiris was the god of the underworld. Stories about him revolved around the idea of immortality. Osiris was the god that made a peaceful afterlife possible. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Egyptian God HORUS
  8. 8. Creation Myths <ul><li>The Egyptians had many tales about how the world began. </li></ul><ul><li>According to one legend, it started with an ocean in darkness . Then a mound of dry land rose up and the sun god Re appeared. He created light and all things. </li></ul><ul><li>Another version has the sun God emerging from a sacred blue lotus that grew out of the mud, while a third version has him appearing as a scarab beetle on the eastern horizon. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Death, Burial and the Afterlife <ul><li>One thing that does seem familiar about their ancient religion was that people were very concerned about the afterlife. </li></ul><ul><li>Because their religion stressed an afterlife, Egyptians devoted much time and wealth to preparing for survival in the next world . </li></ul><ul><li>Their belief in the rebirth after death became their driving force behind their funeral practices ” Mummification ”. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Journey to the After Life, from the Book of the Dead
  11. 11. Book of the Dead <ul><li>The Egyptian &quot;Book of the Dead&quot; contains the major ideas and beliefs in the ancient Egyptian religion. </li></ul><ul><li>It is mostly a collection of prayers believed by the ancient Egyptians to guide and protect the soul ( Ka ) in its journey into the region of the dead ( Amenti ). </li></ul>
  12. 12. Judgment in the Other World, from the Book of the Dead
  13. 13. <ul><li>Religion in Egypt controls many aspects of social life and is endorsed by law . </li></ul><ul><li>Egypt is predominantly Muslim , with Muslims comprising about 90% of a population of around 80 million Egyptians. </li></ul>Recognized Religions in Egypt
  14. 14. Religion and the Law <ul><li>According to the constitution of Egypt, any new legislation must at least implicitly agree with Islamic law ( Shariaa ), however the constitution bans political parties with a religious agenda. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Islam in Egypt <ul><li>The vast majority of Egyptian Muslims are Sunni , with a small Shi'ite community making up the remainder. </li></ul><ul><li>A significant number of Sunni Egyptians also follow native Sufi orders. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Mohammed Ali Mosque Dome
  17. 17. Al-Azhar <ul><li>The country has long been a centre of Islamic scholarship, and al-Azhar University —located in Cairo—is widely considered the world’s preeminent institution of Islamic learning. </li></ul><ul><li>It is the oldest Islamic institution of higher studies and is considered by many to be the oldest extant university in the world. </li></ul><ul><li>Likewise, many Muslims, even those outside Egypt, consider al-Azhar ’s sheikhs to be among the highest religious authorities in the Sunni world. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Minarets of Al-Azhar Mosque, Islamic Quarter, Cairo
  19. 19. Islam and the Government <ul><li>The mainstream Hanafi school of Sunni Islam is largely controlled by the state, through Wizaret Al-Awkaf (Ministry of Religious Affairs). Al-Awkaf controls all mosques and supervises Muslim clerics. </li></ul><ul><li>Imams are trained in Imam vocational schools at Al-Azhar . The ministry supports Sunni Islam and has commissions authorized to give Fatwā judgments on Islamic issues. </li></ul>
  20. 20. A man in prayer at the main mosque in the Citadel, Cairo
  21. 21. Islamic Fundamentalists in Egypt <ul><li>Beginning in the 1980s, Islamic militants belonging to the Islamic Group ( al-Gama`a al-Islamīyya ) and Islamic Jihad were active, particularly in the Upper Egyptian provinces of Asyūt and Al Minyā . </li></ul><ul><li>In 1992 they began a campaign of armed violence, centered in Cairo and Upper Egypt, with the goal of establishing a government based on strict Islamic law. </li></ul><ul><li>The victims of their violence included Copts , government officials , and tourists . </li></ul><ul><li>This campaign was basically over and done with by the year 2000. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Christianity in Egypt <ul><li>The largest religious minority consists of Coptic Christians , most of whom are members of the Coptic Church , officially called the Coptic Orthodox Church . </li></ul>
  23. 23. Coptic Cross Necklace
  24. 24. The Coptic Church <ul><li>Copts are not a cultural or ethnic minority but Egyptians whose ancestors embraced Christianity in the first century. </li></ul><ul><li>The Coptic Christian population in Egypt is the largest Christian community in the Middle East. </li></ul><ul><li>About 95% of Egypt's Christians are members of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria , an Oriental Orthodox Church, established in the 1st century C.E. by Saint Mark . </li></ul>
  25. 25. Domes of Saint Mark Church
  26. 26. The Coptic Church <ul><li>The Church is headed by the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria . </li></ul><ul><li>(1971 – Present) Pope Shenouda III . </li></ul><ul><li>It has followers of approximately 10-15 million Christians worldwide. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Pope Shenouda III
  28. 28. Boston Priest Convention 2006
  29. 29. Christian Population <ul><li>Many Copts and others believe that official estimates undercount Christians and that Christians actually constitute about 10-15 percent of the population. </li></ul><ul><li>Other Christian communities include Greek Orthodox , Armenian , Greek and Armenian Catholic , and several Protestant denominations whose members are mainly resident foreigners. </li></ul>
  30. 30. Inside Saint Mary Coptic Orthodox Church
  31. 31. Judaism in Egypt <ul><li>Egyptian Jews constitute perhaps the oldest Jewish community outside Israel in the world. </li></ul><ul><li>While no exact census exists, the Jewish population of Egypt was estimated at fewer than a hundred in 2004, down from between 75,000 and 80,000 in 1922. </li></ul>
  32. 32. Ben Ezra Synagogue Annex
  33. 33. History of Jewish Communities in Egypt <ul><li>The historic core of the indigenous community consisted mainly of Arabic-speaking Rabbanites and Karaites . </li></ul><ul><li>After their expulsion from Spain, more Sephardi and Karaite Jews began to immigrate to Egypt, and their numbers increased with the growth of trading prospects after the opening of the Suez Canal, to constitute the commercial and cultural elite of the modern community. </li></ul><ul><li>The Ashkenazi community, mainly confined to Cairo's Darb al-Barabira quarter, began to arrive in the aftermath of the waves of pogroms that hit Europe in the latter part of the 19th century. </li></ul>
  34. 34. Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue, Alexandria
  35. 35. Inside Eliahu Hanavi Synagogue, Alexandria
  36. 36. Jewish Immigration from Egypt <ul><li>In the early 20th century the Jewish community, fleeing persecution in Europe, found safe haven in Egypt, but conditions worsened for Egyptian Jew by the 1940s, and the decline accelerated after Gamal Abdel Nasser 's coup in 1952, the Lavon Affair and Israel's participation in the Suez War in 1956. </li></ul><ul><li>Most of that community left the country after the Suez Crisis of 1956 . </li></ul><ul><li>Today, Jews in Egypt number fewer than 100 , maybe less. </li></ul>
  37. 37. <ul><li>The laws in Egypt only recognize Islam and Christianity . </li></ul><ul><li>Any other Faiths , Religions or Beliefs are not recognized officially by the government. </li></ul>Unrecognized Religions
  38. 38. Bahá'í Faith <ul><li>There is a small, but nonetheless historically significant, non-immigrant Bahá'í population, estimated around 2000 persons. </li></ul><ul><li>The Bahá'í Faith was Founded in Iran in the 19th century, the movement’s spiritual and administrative homes are now respectively located in Akka and Haifa , Israel. Informal estimates about Bahá'ís population in Egypt suggest that there are approximately 2,000 Bahá'ís currently resident in Egypt. </li></ul><ul><li>They have been traditionally marginalized as a religious community in Egypt, and recently found themselves in court battling for the right to indicate their faith on their identification cards . </li></ul>
  39. 39. Atheism and Agnosticism <ul><li>There are Egyptians who identify as atheist and agnostic ; till 2008 only one case is reported, but their numbers are unknown as openly advocating such positions risks legal sanction on the basis of apostasy (this occurs only if a citizen takes the step of suing the person engaging in apostasy, not automatically by the general prosecutor). </li></ul><ul><li>In 2000, an openly atheist Egyptian writer, who called for the establishment of a local association for atheists , was tried on charges of insulting Islam in four of his books. </li></ul>
  40. 40. <ul><li>Religious freedom in Egypt is hampered to varying degrees by discriminatory and restrictive government policies. </li></ul>Religious Freedom in Egypt
  41. 41. Legal Framework <ul><li>The Constitution provides for freedom of belief and the practice of religious rites, although the Government places restrictions on these rights in practice. </li></ul><ul><li>Islam is the official state religion and Shari'a (Islamic law) is the primary source of legislation; religious practices that conflict with the Government's interpretation of Shari'a are prohibited. </li></ul><ul><li>Members of non-Muslim religious minorities officially recognized by the Government generally worship without harassment and maintain links with coreligionists in other countries; however, members of religious groups that are not recognized by the Government, particularly the Baha'i Faith , experience personal and collective hardship. </li></ul>
  42. 42. Copts and Muslims <ul><li>Coptic Christians , being the largest religious minority in Egypt, are also negatively affected. </li></ul><ul><li>Copts have faced increasing marginalization after the 1952 coup d'état led by Gamal Abdel Nasser . </li></ul><ul><li>Until recently, Christians were required to obtain presidential approval for even minor repairs in churches. Although the law was eased in 2005 by handing down the authority of approval to the governors, Copts continue to face many obstacles in building new churches . </li></ul><ul><li>These obstacles are not as much in building mosques . </li></ul>
  43. 43. Copts and Muslims <ul><li>Human rights  organizations and others have claimed that the Egyptian government discriminates against Copts or turns a blind eye to their persecution by the Islamic militants . </li></ul><ul><li>The government denies these charges, but nevertheless, Copts are subject to some restrictions. </li></ul>
  44. 44. Copts and Muslims <ul><li>Muslim and Christian share a common history and national identity, however, at times religious tensions have arisen and individual acts of prejudice and violence occur. </li></ul><ul><li>The most significant was the 2000-2001 El Kosheh attacks, In which Muslims and Christians were being involved in bloody inter-religious clashes following a dispute between a Muslim and a Christian. </li></ul>
  45. 45. Coptic Church next to Muslim Mosque
  46. 46. Converting between Religions <ul><li>While freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Egyptian constitution , according to Human Rights Watch , &quot;Egyptians are able to convert to Islam generally without difficulty, but Muslims who convert to Christianity face difficulties in getting new identity papers and some have been arrested for allegedly forging such documents. </li></ul>
  47. 47. Bahá'í Court Ruling <ul><li>On 16 December 2006, after only one hearing, the High Court of Egypt ruled against the Bahá'ís , stating that the government would not recognize their Faith in official identification cards . </li></ul><ul><li>The ruling left Bahá'ís unable to obtain ID cards, birth certificates , or death certificates . They cannot get marriage or divorce certificates or passports , nor can they be employed, educated, treated in hospitals, or vote . </li></ul>
  48. 48. <ul><li>There is a trend toward improvement in the Government's respect for and protection of the right to religious freedom during the last few years. </li></ul><ul><li>The Government undertook a series of initiatives to address the concerns of the Christian community, including the facilitation of church repairs , the appointment of Copts to senior positions in the ruling political party, and expanded treatment of Coptic themes in the media . </li></ul><ul><li>There was a significant increase in press and public discussion of the subject of religious discrimination . </li></ul>The Future
  49. 49. The Future <ul><li>Many Egyptians agree that more needs to be done to eliminate religious discrimination , but argue that development of the economy , policy , and society is the most effective and enduring way to abolish prejudice . </li></ul>
  50. 50. Sources <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>The World Fact Book </li></ul><ul><li>Human Rights Watch </li></ul><ul><li>U.S. Department of State </li></ul><ul><li>Egypt, International Religious Freedom Report 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>Vatikiotis, P. J. “The History of Modern Egypt” Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991 </li></ul><ul><li>Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. </li></ul>
  51. 51. <ul><li>Presentation by </li></ul><ul><li>Mohamed Haggag </li></ul><ul><li>Community College </li></ul><ul><li>for International Development </li></ul><ul><li>Egypt Initiative </li></ul><ul><li>Class of 2008 </li></ul><ul><li>Richland College </li></ul>