Tuesday 05 July, 2022

Al-Estiklal Newspaper

How Does Sisi Fight the Personal Private Sphere of Religion in Ramadan?

2022/04/28 07:04:00 | Adham Hamed | Reports
The Ministry of Endowments is strictly prohibiting most of the religious activities in Ramadan.
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The decision of the Egyptian Ministry of Awqaf to ban the prayers of the mosque and I’tikaf in the last 10 days of Ramadan for the third year in a row has sparked widespread controversy.

The decision, which was attributed by the ministry to the precautionary measures of the COVID-19 virus, was met with objections by some members of the House of Representatives and citizens, especially since many Egyptians usually took refuge in mosques during the last 10 months of Ramadan each year.

Prior to Ramadan, the Egyptian Government approved a number of decisions on easing COVID-19 restrictions, first and foremost allowing the opening of the death rituals and events attached to mosques, as well as the performance of wedding ceremonies in the great mosques.

 

Sisi’s Uniqueness

I’tikaf, in the Islamic faith, is a particularly commended pious practice consisting of a period of retreat in a mosque, for a certain number of days in accordance with the believer’s wish.

Egypt is the only Arab country that has officially and directly declared a ban on I’tikaf or prayers in mosques in the last 10 days of Ramadan, with some 12 Arab countries declaring the ritual systematically and comprehensively, taking into account the reasons for caution: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Morocco, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Sudan, Mauritania, Yemen, and Somalia.

The rest of the states differed in their decisions on this issue, with some States allocating certain mosques for I’tikaf, others requiring prior authorization from the authorities, or imposing strict measures to maintain precautionary measures, but in general, that did not prevent worshippers from this historic Ramadan I’tikaf.

 

Popular Discontent

Sisi’s decision raised the objections of many members of the House of Representatives, a number of whom made urgent statements against the minister's statements on the prohibition of the prayer in the mosques and the I’tikaf in mosques.

They stressed that despite the reversal of several decisions restricted by COVID-19, and crowding in malls, Sisi saw increased casualties only in mosques, despite being the most disciplined of all other places by precautionary measures.

Ziauddin Dawood, a member of the Egyptian parliament, said in a statement that the decisions of the Minister of Awqaf are contrary to the current Egyptian government, which eased the restrictions of Corona earlier this Ramadan.

Ahmed Khalil Khairallah, chairman of the parliamentary body of the Salafist-referenced Nour Party, made another urgent statement to the presidency of the House of Representatives on the decision to ban the prayers of the Tahajjud and I’tikaf during the last 10 days of Ramadan.

He pointed out that the decision of the state to return the masses to the stadiums again, in addition to mitigating the decisions of precautionary measures for COVID-19, and the decline of official statistics on injuries, confirm the improvement of the situation significantly, asking: “How are all the entities and commercial centers working efficiently and the prayer Tahajjud will increase the rate of COVID-19?”

Many Egyptians also objected on social media to the Sisi decisions, considering them unjustified, especially since the Egyptian state is moving to ease precautionary measures, and they were hoping for a return to the atmosphere of Ramadan month.

In their posts, many citizens said that there was no difference between the prayers of Taraweeh and the Tahajjud, questioning the justification for allowing the first and preventing the second.

 

Imams as Spies

Al-Estiklal contacted two men from Cairo and Alexandria to narrate their stories of what happened during their prayers in Ramadan.

Ali Ahmed, an Alexandrian student of commerce, said that he was praying Tahajjud in one of the mosques one night when he heard a loud noise knocking on the door repeatedly.

“Immediately, some of us cut his prayer and went to the door, thinking that there was a crisis of a fire of some kind, when we opened the door we found one of the ministry’s Imams, who aggressively told us to step aside, and didn’t wait for our reply.”

“When he stormed the mosque, he instantly went to the sound system box, closed all the microphones, and proceeded to shut down the speakers and lights of the mosque,” Ahmed added.

“He was angry, hasty, and nervous as if he was attacking a bunch of criminals, we were trying to have a dialogue with him, but to no avail,” he concluded.

Sharafedin Bahaa, an employee of HR at a multinational company, told Al-Estiklal that Imams of the Ministry of Awqaf are treating the mosques in Egypt harsher than Israel treats Palestinians.

“All of the world is accepting Muslims to pray and practice their Ramadan freely, why the hell is our regime preventing us from praying our normal prayers?”

“On the first night of Tahajjud, we were praying discreetly, as if we were some kind of criminals, and we were sabotaged by one of the ministry’s inspectors.

“He didn’t think twice, he immediately called our Imam, warned him of misconduct, and issuing a report against him in the ministry. The Imam was mistreated, and we all felt sorry for him, but we couldn’t do anything,” he concluded.

 


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References:

1

I’tikaf is forbidden in the mosques of Egypt and a storm in the street and parliament [Arabic]

2

Preventing I’tikaf and monitoring mosques in Egypt. The case is bigger than precautionary measures [Arabic]

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egypt mosques ramadan sisi