12 September 2010
Last July, Watani printed a story on the book Mohamed, Peace be Upon Him, the Greatest of the Great in the World which was published by the Culture Ministry’s Family Library and which propagated the thought of the Islamist scholar Ahmed Didat. The book attempted to prove the greatness of Mohamed through a comparison with Jesus Christ in which Christ was disdained as an inferior prophet and the Bible branded as a misquotation of an original that was no longer acknowledged by Christians. Watani drew attention to the fact that the book, which Christians in general saw as offensive to their religion and their holy book, was produced by Egyptian—Christian as well as Muslim—taxpayer money. Watani also demanded that, since the State appears to have embarked on a publication of sorts on comparative religions, it would endorse the reciprocation of Christians by publishing their viewpoint on the topic.
This month has seen the publication of yet another book which disdains the Christian religion. This time it is published by the General Authority for Cultural Palaces, another party affiliated to the Culture Ministry. Al-Wahy al-Mohamadi (The Mohamedan Inspiration) was written by Sheikh Mohamed Rasheed (1865 – 1935) who was among the founders of the Muslim Brotherhood movement during the 1920s and is famous for his harsh criticism of Christianity. The 323-page book sells at the heavily subsidised price of EGP4.
Again, the book attempts to prove the veracity of Islam by deriding the Christian religion. On page 36 Sheikh Rasheed says: “Christians cite the sins committed by the various prophets as proof that Christ alone was infallible, and that He alone could save mankind from original sin, since no sinner could save sinners”. This creed is a pagan one, Sheikh Rasheed says, since it violates the religions set by the prophets and it defies reason.
Page 37 carries further offence to the person of Jesus, since it brands him as abusive of his brothers and mother whom, the book says, God raised above all womankind. The book describes Jesus as a “wine drinker” and says that Satan got hold of Him.
The above were but a few samples of the erroneous references and interpretations of the Bible included in Al-Wahy al-Mohamadi.
It is a widely acknowledged fact that every religion includes, by definition, texts which restrict the true faith to tenets of that religion, as well as texts which call for tolerance towards others. Since Egypt is a nation whose people belong to more than one religion, we believe that the State should be propagating those texts which lead to social peace rather than those which lead to division. Especially when the members of one religion—in this case Christianity—are almost never granted the opportunity to propagate information about their religion; this would in fact make them liable to charges of ‘proselytising’.
If we go back to Al-Wahy al-Mohamadi, however, the question which begs an answer form Ahmed Megahed, head of the General Authority for Cultural Palaces and editor-in-chief of its series of Special Publications, among which books Sheikh Rasheed’s was published, is: Will Christians be allowed to publish a reciprocal book among the same series?