I send sincere congratulations to the Egyptian leadership and people, as well as the Arab and Islamic nations for Eid Al-Fitr, wishing all of you good and peace,pleading for God to keep our Egypt from all evil, and bless every work performed in order to raise it and enhance its leadership.
This year, Eid Al -Fitr comes amid the celebrations of Egypt’s Copts of the Easter, spring celebrations and Sinai’s liberation;all Egyptians share the celebrations of religious and national occasions together, laying emphasis on the ideaamong people of one nation, and sharing joys and celebrations together.
Throughout the thousands-year-old- history of Egypt, we see nothing but love spirit that brings all Egyptians together. One glimpse of love that crowned the pages of history is the great celebration held in Egypt since the days of its pharaohs; the celebration of Sham Al-Neseem, which dates back to nearly five thousand years ago.For the ancient Egyptians, this feast symbolized the revival of life and the beginning of the world creation according to their beliefs; as the celebration was official and majestic, and with the next sunrise, the entire people celebrate by going out to the gardens, fields and parks, eating foods related to the feast like: eggs, salted fish, lettuce, onions, and malana (green chickpeas). Thus, all the Egyptians have kept that majestic popular celebration, in which Muslims and Christians cannot be distinguished.
Also, among the Egyptian national celebrations that we share is Sinai’s Liberation Day, after the Camp David Treaty concluded on 3/26/1979, the restoration of Egyptian lands to their owners, and the raising of the Egyptian flag on the beloved Sinai land on 4/25/1982 after its restoration. Every particle of Egypt’s soil is precious to every Egyptian, so it was necessary to get Sinai back, as it is so dear to the heart of every Egyptian. Throughout ages, Sinai has enjoyed a distinguished status in the depths of the Egyptians. It is the land that received many blessings as the men of God crossed it to Egypt; it became a precious part, the Egyptians did not hesitate to sacrifice their souls for its soil. Sinai has not been the interest of Egyptians only, but also it has been the focus of the whole world’s attention. No country or city in the entire world has been granted such fame in human history as Sinai! That land which contains the largest religious monuments which are not found anywhere else in the world, including: “Mount Sinai” and “Mount Catherine”, where Prophet Moses saw the burning bush, “The Mosque of Al-Hakim Bi-Amrallah”, “The Holy Valley” and others.
Ramadan month is associated with special feelings for all Egyptians, whether Muslims or Christians. We see the Christians celebrating with their Muslim brothers. They share together the manifestations of the celebration as decorating the streets, organizing Iftar tables, and eating special foods for this month such as Qataif, Konafa and other kinds. A close bond among the people of the same nation is clear when everyone sitting at the Iftar tables, sharing food and talking in a deep affinity and friendship. History still bears the memory of those Ramadan tables that were held in the Papal Residence in Abbasiya, Al-Azhar and the Ministry of Awqaf, bringing together the Thrice beatified Pope Shenouda III, the Grand Imam and Minister of Awqaf; then among Muslims and Christians in the homeland, presenting a scene of the Egyptians’ cohesion in celebrations and occasions as one family within the one homeland. Ramadan month is also famous for Mawa’ed Al-Rahman (charity Iftar tables) which inviteseveryone to participate in the Iftar; all Egyptians share their food as one family in love and harmony. Since fasting is very closely related to works of mercy and giving, everyone is hasting to satisfy a person’s hunger, as an act of love offered to God before his brothers in humanity.
These shared tolerant scenes only express the values of the correct religions that call for love, tolerance and peacemaking with all, in addition to respecting the feelings and sanctities of others. Although some are trying to distort the facts by turning the feeling of respecting and sharing others’ feasts a kind of adopting those beliefs and faiths – which is not true – since friendship, love and fraternity towards every human being is the essence of humanity on which God created us. In the end, we are all brothers, belonging to one father who is Adam and a mother, Eve. We must realize that the cohesion of the one family is the basis for its continuity and stability. The Bible mentions: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” It is the seed of love that unites all human beings.
Happy shared feasts for all of us; and… Stories about beautiful Egypt never end!
The General Bishop
Head of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center