Egyptians call it Om al Donia, the mother of all nations. If you ask an Egyptian why, he or she will give a full list from the oldest civilization to the best falafel sandwich you will ever have!
Here is my interpretation why Egypt has this hallowed designation, in five or six points:
In Arabic, Egypt is known as Miser “مصر”, humankind’s first known nation or country. The nation is the only country mentioned by name in the three major religion’s holy books: the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and the Quran. It is the only country that has ties to or been visited by most if not all of the Biblical figures mentioned in each religion’s holy texts. Finally, God’s Voice was heard in Egypt (Sinai) delivering the Ten Commandments, to the prophet Moses (in Islam known as Moussa, “peace be upon him”).
Scholars consider Egypt one of the cradles of all civilizations, because it is where some of the earliest developments occurred in organized religion, writing, agriculture, urbanization and central government in history (Arab News, February 19, 2023).
Egypt is home to one-third of the world antiquities, from its beginning in the 10th millennium BCE to this day.
When people think of Egypt, what comes to mind are the antiquities, including the Pyramids and the old civilization relics. Many are not aware that Egypt has the oldest Islamic University, Al Azhar, many old churches and monasteries as well as synagogues. From its inception, even the ancient Egyptians were in the search of God.
According to Pew research, today 95% of Egyptians are Sunni Muslim and 8.3% are Christians—primarily Coptic Orthodox Christians. While there was once a thriving Jewish community, only 3 Egyptian Jews are known to permanently reside in Egypt. In 2020, the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Alexandria was restored, and work began on the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo.
Every year I organize a two-week trip to Egypt. The participants always represent a variety of faith traditions and experience the trip as an interfaith experience. For that reason, I always start the tour, on the first day, with a visit to a mosque, a church and a synagogue. I call it a Trip of a Lifetime!
Hamdy Abbass is a spokesperson for the South Valley Islamic Community, a longtime resident of Morgan Hill, and a business owner in Gilroy. He was one the original leaders of the Interfaith CommUNITY of South County. For more information or to become part of interfaith activities, go to [email protected]. For more information about the Trip of a Lifetime, go to [email protected].