Thursday, November 23, 2006

Egypt: Symposium on Constitutional Reforms

The Egyptian newspaper "al-Masry al-Youm" reported today on the role of the Baha'is in an important national symposium held in Cairo at the Marriott hotel in Zamalek. In its headline, it stated "the Legal Case [concerning] the Recognition of the Baha'i [Faith] Has Affirmed [placed] Itself in Front of the Constitutional Reforms Symposium." It is subtitled "Baha'is: Present in Egypt for 170 Years...We Demand ID Cards Without Religion."

In its extended coverage, the newspaper described in great detail the statements made by the Baha'is during this session. They presented a complete historical background of the Baha'i Faith in Egypt as well as the details of their current struggle, the consequences of their inability to obtain ID Cards, and the violation of their civil and human rights in Egypt.

A number of Egyptian Baha'is were officially invited to participate in this national symposium on constitutional reforms, and in particular to participate in discussions related to the necessary reforms to critical issues such as in Article-2 of the Egyptian constitution which states: "Islam is the Religion of the State. Arabic is its official language, and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Sharia)."

This second session of the symposium (the first was held on 7 November 2006), which is sponsored by an Egyptian organization named Partners in Development (For Research, Consulting and Training) in collaboration with the German foundation Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, was held on Tuesday, 21 November 2006. It is estimated that their work on the constitution will continue for the next six months. The session was entitled "Religion and Politics in the Egyptian Constitution."

Near the conclusion of the session Dr. Yehiah al-Gamal (pictured in the article), who is a Professor of Constitutional Law, stated that "Islam does not know [recognize] a nation based on religion because Islam is a belief, and that the modern nation's foundation is only based on citizenship." he went on to clarify that "differentiation between a citizen and another based on belief is discrimination, which is in violation of the Egyptian constitution because all citizens are equal before the law; whether citizens are Muslims, Christians, Baha'is, Buddhists or irreligious, they are still all equal before the law."

The Baha'is were also invited to the next session entitled "The Nation's Economic and Social Role in the Constitution." In addition to the Baha'is, several prominent leaders, specialists and scholars representing the Egyptian society were invited to contribute to the symposium.

This important symposium is well timed with the current push by President Mubarak to implement progressive constitutional reforms in Egypt as was presented in his recent speech on 19 November at the opening of the Egyptian parliamentarian session this past Sunday.


  1. Bilo, It is an uplifting experience to even read of such a meeting. A source of light, of guidance. A resource for consultation, a chance to meet Egyptian men and women, living chandeliers of virtues and knowledge.
    Wonderful information. I am sure it's effects will illumine Egyptian society...sooner or later.
    Edo River

  2. I would wish a Bahai would be asked to say a prayer for meetings to open that assemblage...well, one can wish ;-)

    Edo River rising

  3. Edo River,

    You are right on, thank you. Also, prayers have certain powers that are beyond our understanding, as in this prayer:

    "Intone, O My servants, the verses of God that have been received by thee, as intoned by them who have drawn nigh unto Him, that the sweetness of thy melody may kindle thine own soul, and attract the hearts of all men. Whoso reciteth, in the privacy of his chamber, the verses revealed by God, the scattering angels of the Almighty shall scatter abroad the fragrance of the words uttered by his mouth, and shall cause the heart of every righteous man to throb. Though he may, at first, remain unaware of its effect, yet the virtue of the grace vouchsafed unto him must needs sooner or later exercise its influence upon his soul. Thus have the mysteries of the Revelation of God been decreed by virtue of the Will of Him Who is the Source of power and wisdom."


  4. Dear Bilo,
    I'd like to present, from the writings of the Guardian Shoghi Effendi, as a
    proof, the truth of what was written in the El-Masry El-Youm report 23 nov.
    2006, about Baha'is making every effort to defend Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) from
    all the attacks againest Him.
    Here are the quotes:
    "Shoghi Effendi hopes that your lectures will not only serve to deepen the
    knowledge of the believers in the doctrines and and culture of Islam, but will
    set their hearts afire with the love of everything that vitally pertains to
    Muhammad and His Faith."

    "There is so much misunderstanding about Islam in the West in general that you
    have to dispel. Your task is rather difficult and requires a good deal of
    erudition. Your chief task is to acquaint the friends with the pure teaching of
    the Prophet as recorded in the Qur'án, and then to point out how these
    teachings have, throughout succeeding ages, influenced nay guided the course of
    human development. In other words you have to show the position and
    significance of Islam in the history of civilization."

    "... Islam constitutes a fuller revelation of God's purpose for mankind. The so-
    called Christian civilization of which the Renaissance is one of the most
    striking manifestations is essentially Muslim in its origins and foundations.
    When medieval Europe was plunged in darkest barbarism, the Arabs regenerated
    and transformed by the spirit released by the religion of Muhammad were busily
    engaged in establishing a civilization the kind of which their contemporary
    Christians in Europe had never witnessed before. It was eventually through
    Arabs that civilization was introduced to the West. It was through them that
    the philosophy, science and culture which the old Greeks had developed found
    their way to Europe. The Arabs were the ablest translators, and linguists of
    their age, and it is thanks to them that the writings of such well-known
    thinkers as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were made available to the
    Westerners. It is wholly unfair to attribute the efflorescence of European
    culture during the Renaissance period to the influence of Christianity. It was
    mainly the product of the forces released by the Muhammadan Dispensation."

    "From the standpoint of institutionalism Islam far surpasses true Christianity
    as we know it in the Gospels. There are infinitely more laws and institutions
    in the Qur'án than in the Gospel. While the latter's emphasis is mainly, not to
    say wholly, on individual and personal conduct, the Qur'án stresses the
    importance of society. This social emphasis acquires added importance and
    significance in the Bahá'í Revelation. When carefully and impartially compared,
    the Qur'án marks a definite advancement on the Gospel, from the standpoint of
    spiritual and humanitarian progress."

    "The truth is that Western historians have for many centuries distorted the
    facts to suit their religious and ancestral prejudices. The Bahá'ís should try
    to study history anew, and to base all their investigations first and foremost
    on the written Scriptures of Islam and Christianity."

    Shoghi Effendi, April 27, 1936

    (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 495)

    "The mission of the American Bahá'ís is, no doubt to eventually establish the
    truth of Islam in the West.

    "The spirit of Islam, no doubt, was the living germ of modern Civilization;
    which derived its impetus from the Islamic culture in the Middle ages, a
    culture that was the fruit of the Faith of Muhammad."

    Shoghi Effendi, July 30, 1941

    (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 496)

    "... Muhammadanism is not only the last of the world religions, but are fuller
    Revelation than any one preceding it. The Qur'án is not only more authoritative
    than any previous religious gospel, but it contains also much more ordinances,
    teachings and precepts, which taken together constitute a fuller Revelation of
    God's purpose and law to mankind than Christianity, Judaism or any other
    previous Dispensation. This view is in complete accord with the Bahá'í
    philosophy of progressive revelation, and should be thoroughly accepted and
    taught by every loyal Christian Bahá'í."

    Shoghi Effendi, November 12, 1933

    (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 497)

  5. Burhan,

    Thank you for pointing this out. It is indeed a very important fact brought up in that symposium as reported in Rose el-Yousef article, stating: "Baha'is are spending a lot of energy in the outside [western] world in promoting the Prophet Muhammad (saws) and in defending Him against the opposition campaign directed at Him."

  6. BEAUTIFUL NEW WEB design, BILO!!!

  7. Thank you Anonymous...just trying to make it clearer, and frankly I got tired looking at the lighthouse! :-)

  8. This is excellent news. Thanks for keeping us abreast of what is happening regarding the long-suffering but heroic Baha'is of Egypt.

  9. Phillipe,
    You are very welcome, and thanks for contributing with your blog as well....


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