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Egyptians must reclaim their pro-life tradition

Reader comment on item: A Century of the Muslim Brotherhood

Submitted by Dave (United States), Sep 2, 2022 at 11:54

I remember seeing a movie on Egypt narrated by Omar Sharif, the movie star. In the film, he described in fascinating detail about the ancient Egyptian relicts and eras: the tombs, the artifacts, the hieroglyphics, the pharoahs, the beliefs, so much of it preoccupied with the afterlife. Then, when he concluded his narration, he said that contrary to appearances, ancient Egypt was not all about death, but about life. Ancient Egyptians believed that life was only one part of an eternal journey, which ended, not in death, but in everlasting joy. That explained why Egyptians were entombed with their belongings, as they would need them in the afterlife. Life was celebrated and dearly valued. The theatre audience went wild.
These beliefs, which so obviously helped people cope with death, align in some ways with the traditions of the later monotheistic religions in their concepts of the afterlife. In addition, the West's Judeo-Christian values clearly place great emphasis on the value of life. Hence, the preoccupation with related questions, such as decisions on when to use military force, euthanasia, capital punishment and abortion. When Egypt adopted Coptic Christianity, she was well prepared to adopt those values.
The Arab conquest of Egypt in the seventh century changed this. Under Islamic domination, new values arose with new concepts surrounding death and the afterlife. Under Islam, there is still the concept of joy in paradise, but death became associated with martyrology, killing unbelievers, Shariah punishments, and the glorification of religious war. In modern times, the Muslim Brotherhood promulgated these values to the extreme. For them, life was devalued and death had lost its dignity.
It is said that Egyptians have a pharaonic tradition that provides a bulwark against Islamism. The huge protests against Morsi as alluded to by Cynthia Farahat attest to that. I hope that they can continue to draw strength from their ancient glory and reclaim their love of life.

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