Way of Life
The culture is centred around the Islamic religion, it shapes every aspect of life. Honour is a very high value for Egyptian Arabs. Families guard their honour by guarding the honour of their women. Women are expected to dress modestly, stay at home until marriage and always be with male guardians.
Personal choice is less relevant and strict observance to the teachings of the Quran legislates how Muslims live. There is, however, a growing disillusionment, especially among the younger generation, towards Islam as a result of what has been taking place in the name of “Allah”. Namely, that of Muslims killing one another.
Population: 97,041,072 (Cairo: 18.8 Million)
Language: Arabic, Egyptian Spoken
Religion: 90% Muslim (predominantly Sunni)
Professing Christian: 1% (evangelical)
Beliefs & Culture
Muslims, Christians, and Jews may have a shared history that stretches to the beginning of creation, but it diverges at the story of Abraham, Ismail, and Isaac. Christian and Jewish people believe Isaac is the son of promise, and Muslims believe it is Ismail.
Status is determined by what family you are born into, your level of education, job, position, and prosperity. All of which gives either recognition or degradation. However, Muslims believe that their outcome in life is determined by God. Therefore, they must be content with what God has decided for them. Although many are not satisfied, they will say “praise be to God” yet show dissatisfaction about their lot in life.
Women are often seen as child-bearers and given by God for man’s pleasure. For this reason, the men reportedly regard their children as more important than their wives. This attitude gives little or no recognition to the value of their spouse. Men pray together on a regular basis whether it be in the streets or at the Mosque. This is important to them as it reflects their solidarity as a majority faith.
The Work So Far
Workers develop friendships with Muslims that will give opportunity to develop trust and openness and introduce them to Jesus. They have discovered since coming that this level of friendship is established and developed over time. Trust must be earned.
As friendships are developed, they have further opportunity to live out the Gospel, which fosters discussion related to everyday life. Often, after years of engaging, conversations move from surface discussion about the weather, to talking about marriage, family, inner peace, and joy which gives further opportunity to introduce the teachings of Jesus. There is also much opportunity to meet with the people by becoming involved with them in their holy days, especially Eid Al-Fitr.
Eid Al-Fitr is celebrated at the end of Ramadan. Muslims usually give zakat (charity) on this occasion. It is important to engage in gift giving as well which establishes respect and honour in this shame/honour system. Workers also take advantage of Christian holy days such as Christmas and Easter to give gifts to show their dedication and honour to Christ.
How to Pray for Egyptian Arabs
Praise God that the Internet offers a gateway into people’s lives. Many are using tools like Youtube and Facebook to communicate and foster dialogue between people who are hungering and thirsting for truth.
Pray for the workers who need encouragement and perseverance as followers of Jesus. Ask that they be the salt and light of the Gospel by their attitude and actions.
Pray against the attitude of fear and hostility towards our Muslim neighbours which serves only to hinder the work of the Holy Spirit from reaching them.