All Muslims believe that there is one sovereign God who has revealed his will through a succession of prophets, including Jesus but culminating in Muhammad. They reject Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection but accept his ascension and second coming in judgment. Muslims typically believe that the Semitic gospel preached by Jesus was distorted by the apostle Paul and early church fathers to fit the Hellenistic culture of the Greco-Roman empire.

The Muslim fundamentalists of Egypt (and beyond) long for a return to the precolonial golden age of Islam when religion and state were one and when religious values permeated society.

Here are their main points of protest:

• They are outraged at the permissiveness of our generation. They campaign against abortion, homosexuality, and the flagrant portrayal of sex in Western movies and magazines. They are critical of immodest women’s clothing and of co-education in the universities. In some departments of Cairo University, they have managed to get a ban on theater performances and classical concerts to which they object.

• They desire a moral society with the family at the center, and feel that woman’s primary role is in the home.

• They are pressing for prohibition of alcohol sales throughout the country, and have already succeeded in all but the larger metropolitan areas frequented by tourists.

• They want prayer back in the schools. Noontime university classes are often interrupted by students who wish to go and pray in the campus mosques.

• They want the nation to acknowledge its religious heritage. Last year they sponsored a constitutional amendment that made the Islamic code “the source” of Egyptian law. It formerly had been “a main source.”

• They are restoring the impact of religion on national life. Mosque attendance in the past several years is way up. Thousands of Egyptian office workers now kneel on straw mats in hallways and pray daily while facing the Muslim holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Egyptian women, who traditionally have worn more Western dress than any other women in the Arab world, are increasingly seen covering their heads.

• They believe the concept of separation of religion and politics is heresy. In a mass prayer rally in August that drew 100,000, there were banners proclaiming the glory of the prophet Muhammad and quoting texts from the Koran. But they also criticized Sadat’s policy toward Israel and lashed out at the country’s religious minority. Proclaimed one banner, “Believers do not take the Jews and Christians as friends.”

Leaflets distributed among the crowds by young Muslim activists called for a jihad or holy war both against corruption disseminated in the information media and against Sadat’s “evil” peace with Israel.

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