Faith And Society: How Religious Beliefs Shape The Modern Day Egypt

When it comes to famous tourist destinations, Egypt has always been on the top of lists since the time of enlightenment. But what made these tourist destinations different from other countries is its correlation with the ancient civilization and the religious beliefs that every Egyptian family still carries until now.

Since the early 1300s, Egypt has been practicing their religious beliefs as the basis for making laws of the state. The legislative branch of the Egyptian government sees the predominant religion like Islam as a primary pillar that can shape society for the future generation. However, let us also tackle and look at the relationship of other minor religious beliefs like Christianity and Judaism to modern Egyptian society.

Islam As The Predominant Religion

Egypt’s population consists of roughly 94 percent of Muslim believers. A large part of this population considers themselves as the follower of Sunni Islam in which they recognize the four caliphs as the rightful leaders of the state. Meanwhile, there is also a small portion of this population that faithfully believes in Mu’tazila, Shia Twelvers, and Ismailism. Apart from that, the renowned principal and long-standing Islamic university ever recorded in the world is in Egypt.

Al-Azhar University offers Islamic studies that enhance the Muslim believer’s principles, convictions, and practices in which it can foster a beneficial impact on all sectors of the Egyptian community. After graduation, the majority of the students from the university pursue working in the government where they can facilitate legislative decisions that follow the Islamic rules. It is also to support the propagation of Islamic faith which citizens believe to be an effective political system and the only way they can afford the preservation of order.

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Although Islam and its rules have contributed a positive impact to the community as the official state religion of Egypt, flaws continue to emerge such as denial of religious freedom. The government is firm with the decision of not recognizing non-Muslim individuals because they believe that it is in contradiction with national peace. So for citizens who have converted and practiced other religious belief, they are arrested and subjected to penalization.

Christianity As The Second Religion

The Christian religion in Egypt still exists to around five percent of the population despite the prominence of Islamic faith in the country. A large portion of the Christian community in Egypt belongs to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria where the Bible is the basis of services and lessons.

Because of the presence of Christianity, the government has adopted a more democratic way of leadership in the country. The 12 diocesan bishops serve as the authorities or councils in the community, where they handle the finances of the Christian churches in the area. They are authorized to administer rules in regards to education, heritage, and marriage.

Just like Islam, the leaders of the Christian church in Egypt have established primary schools, secondary schools, and colleges that hone children to the teachings of the gospel. Aside from that, a strong foundation of Sunday-school movement has been visible for years to offer religious education, good ethics, and manners to incapable children who cannot go to Coptic schools.

Judaism: The Lowest In Number Among The Recognized Religions

Although Judaism is considered one of the oldest broad evangelical religions present in the world, it is still one of the lowest in terms of the number recognized in Egypt. Records estimate that less than one percent of present-day Egypt’s population practices Judaism. The 40 Jews remaining in the country is a representation of the ones who left after the massive migration to Israel in 1948. 

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A lot of Jewish religious practices are very much family-oriented. For example, they never forget the tradition of doing Sabbath meal where relatives unite in one table to honor the sacred day. Since the religion of Judaism is a faith of action, believers tend to seek both obedience to the law of the land and obedience to the law of the spirits which contribute to the holiness of the world. The remaining population of Egypt who believes in Judaism follows rules that help with keeping a group of individuals together for the betterment of the future generation.

Unrecognized Religions

The remaining percentage of the entire population of Egypt belongs to the unrecognized religions such as Atheism, Hinduism, Baha’I Faith, and Agnosticism. The religions mentioned are the religious beliefs that were not able to register their customs and traditions to the Department of Religious Affairs. The lack of state recognition of the religions is an indication of a more complex processing system in the country. For example, an individual who has Baha’I faith that is residing in Egypt may have a hard time registering for bank accounts, educational institutions, and businesses.

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Since the early times, faith and society were never separate. They always come hand in hand because religion is instituted to regulate society. There is a strong potential for religious beliefs and practices to enormously address social issues. That is why it has taken up accountability to improve the shape of society in all aspects.