About a year ago I put a photo of a woman beggar sitting by a Cairo street up on my computer desktop to remind me to pray for Egypt. Would you too? If you’re following the news you know that this great land of the scriptures (mentioned almost 700 times in the Bible) appears to be on the verge of a revolution. I have an Egyptian friend who is taking the good news to his countrymen. But I’m also interested because my wife and I were in Egypt in 2008. That’s when I photographed the beggar. It was in Cairo that we began a tour tracing the footsteps of Moses–and beyond (unlike him, we actually got to enter the promised land). Egypt was breathtaking. Admittedly Cairo’s not the cleanest city and the Sinai is a vast display of rocks and more rocks, but from the pyramids to the Egyptian Museum to Mt. Sinai to the Red Sea to the intriguing Egyptian people, I loved it all and can’t wait to return (planning to lead a tour in 2014).
Within weeks the popular uprising which forced out Tunisia’s strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, appears to have infected the Egyptians with the hope that they too can force their President Mubarak from power. It could happen today. Then what? I wonder how many of the frustrated who are thronging the streets have thought about who could follow Mubarak into the presidential palace. “Anything’s better than this!” is often believed but rarely true. The Muslim Brotherhood is the only significant opposition to the government and now that they have thrown their lot in with the protesters, they could well be in the best position to assume the reins of government.
The West is wary of the Brotherhood which its leaders protest is an unfounded concern. But is it nothing more than the innocuous fraternal religious organization it claims to be? Although operative in many Arab nations, it’s home and roots are in Egypt. It began in 1928 and remains strongest in the land of the Nile. Although it has officially endorsed a nonviolent approach to political and religious change, the organization is enveloped by shadows which leave some analysts convinced they are linked with terrorists. That would be unsurprising since their stated goal is to instill the Qur’an and Sunnah as the “sole reference point for… ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community…, and state”. Which sounds suspiciously like the Islamic republics that jihadis envision.
In Lawrence Wrights’ excellent book The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, he claims early Brotherhood member Sayyid Qutb was a key influence for Bin Laden. It is true that not all voices in the MB do–or did–speak with one accord. Perhaps if they consolidate power moderate voices will prevail.
We can pray that if there is a government change, like the Czech Republic’s “velvet revolution” 20 years ago, Egypt could experience a peaceful and bloodless transition of power to a capable ruling authority. And a new dawn of economic, political, and religious hope for all Egyptians. Pray for stability, for peace, for the Christians who are there (only about 10 million of Egypt’s 84 million are Christians), and for an environment where my friend can still spread the good news. After all, the Bible says that a day is coming when Egypt and Assyria and Israel will worship God together, and be His blessing on the earth. The LORD Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.” Isaiah 19:25.