A history of the educational emphases of the major religions of Egypt
Akhdary, Faheem Botrous Mikhail Attia
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INTRODUCTION This study is a survey of the history of the educational emphases of the major religions of Egypt. It is difficult to separate the history of Egypt from the history of its religions. So a history of the educational emphases of the major religions of Egypt naturally falls into three main parts: ancient, which covers the educational emphasis of the religion of the ancient Egyptians, and also the educational emphasis of the early Christian rallgion; medieval, which covers the educational emphasis of Islam; and modern; which covers the educational, emphasis of Christianity by the foreign missions and the Evangelical Church and also by present-day Islam. Consideration is also given to the methods and ways by which the educational emphasis emphasis of the Church of Egypt might be strengthened. BACKGROUND INFORMATION Egypt has been called the "Father of History and the Mother of Civilization." Egypt is the gift of the Nile. Without the Nile Egypt would be part of the Sahara Desert. The total area of Egypt is about 400,000 square miles. Most of this area is entirely uninhabited and uncultivated. The habitable area is 12,676 square miles; and the actual cultivated area is 9,163 square miles. In the days of the Pharoahs there were 7,000,000 people who were agriculturalists; today there are about twenty million people most of whom work in agriculture while others have various occupations. The origin of the ancient Egyptians has been and is still, a question among scholars and experts. In modern Egypt there are the Christians who trace their heredity to the Pharoahs; the Muslims who descend from Arab origin; and the Jews who are of Hebrew origin; Ancient Egypt was ruled by Pharoahs whose rule was divided into dynasties by Manetho. In her long history, Egypt was invaded by many nations. She attained complete independence in the twentieth century when the Egyptian army put an end to the rule of Farouk in 1952. Egypt was made a republic in 1953, and the British, who occupied the land in 1882 agreed to evacuate their remaining Canal garrisons in 1954. THE ANCIENT PERIOD The ancient Egyptians worshipped various classes of gods: animal gods like cats and baboons; cosmic gods such as Ra and Hapi or the Nile; human gods and goddesses like Osiris, Horus, and Isis; abstract gods like Ptah, Thot, and Maat; and foreign gods like Baal and Ashtorathe. Akhnaton briefly stopped the worship of various gods- polytheism, and emphasized the worship of One God-monotheism. Akhnaton's One God, Aton or Aten was worshipped in all the Egyptian Empire under his rule. The ancient Egyptians believed in a future life after death, in a day of Judgment, in an Elysian Fleld, and in a Lake of Fire. They had their holy and sacred books, the most important of which was the Book of the Dead. At Heliopolis or the City of the Sun, there was the University of On or Heliopolis. It was the oldest Egyptian University for the education of the priesthood and the laity. Probably Moses and then Joseph were educated at this school. This school which is sometimes called the School of Priests of On was the centre of priest by training. Religious education was taught in tht temples, tomb-chapels, and homes by the priests, priestesses, laymen and parents to staisfy the gods, ask their favour, and enable people to go to the Elysian Field or the Land of the Bliss. Christianity was introduced into Egypt, according to tradition, by St. Mark who was accompemied by St. Peter, in 45 A.D. This religion spread through the zeal of the great teachers like Pantaenus, Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Athanasius and others. The Egyptian Church suffered severe persecutions under many Roman emperors especially under Diocletian. In spite of these persecutions Christianity replaced paganism and became the dominant religion in the land. The Catechetical School of Alexandria and the order of didaskaloi or teachers who rallied about this school with the zeal of the Apostles and new converts, the liberal tendencies of the Egyptian Jews, the decay of the ancient Egyptian religion, and the divine message of Christianity were the main factors in spreading the Christian faith in the Nile Valley. St. Anthony started monasticism in Egypt which with the heresies and controversies, Mariolatry, angel and saint worship, led the Coptic Orthodox Church or Egypt to fade, dwindle and wane. It could not defend the Christian faith before Islam. THE MEDIEVAL PERIOD Muhammad was born in 570 A.D. and died in 632. He claimed prophecy and apostleship and founded the religion known as Islam. In 640 A.D., the Muslims invaded Egypt. Through severe persecutions, obnoxious legislation, heavy taxation, the continuity of Arab immigration and suitability or Islam to the worldly life or man, the majority of the Christians were converted to Islam. Islam replaced Christianity. The source of Islamic education is the Quran and Sunna or tradition. The mosques and the University of the Azbar founded within the 1Oth century and the different institutions affiliated with it are the main places or Muslim education. The Muslim shaikhs or the Azharites are the main teachers of Islam. The doctrinal and practical sides of Islam are emphasized. The doctrinal side is called Iman or faith and includes six articles: Belief in One God; Belief in Angels; Belief in the Inspired Books; Belief in the Prophets; Belief in the Day of Judgment; and Belief in Predestination. The practical side of Islam includes the five duties or obligations of the Muslims which are: the recital of the Creed "I believe in One God and Muhammad the Messenger of God"; Prayer; Fasting; the giving of Alms; and Pilgrimage. The Muslim shaikhs and the Azharltes use an authoritative method to transmit the heritage of Islam, strengthen the faith of the Muslim believers, and convert the unbelievers or Kafirs to the Muslim faith. THE MODERN PERIOD In the 18th Century, missionary work was started by the missionaries from the West. The Moravians of Bohemia started work in 1752; The Church Missionary Society of Great Britain, in 1819; The United Presbyterian Church of North America. or the American Mission, in 1854; The Sudan Pioneer Mission or the Swiss Mission, in 1901. Other missions followed like the Canadian Mission, the English Mission, the Egypt General Mission, and others. These different missions have schools for boys, schools for girls and mission hospitals and other religious activities through which Christianity is taught. The missionaries with the help of the local residents (les indigenes) teach Christianity to the people of Egypt. Since the missionaries first started work in Egypt in the 18th Century, there have been shifts and developments. The missionaries planned to preach the Gospel to the Muslims first but found them too firmly wedded to their religion--Islam. The missionaries then turned to the Copts and started to preach the Gospel to them. Starting schools for girls and for boys was an effective approach to the Copts. The missions also found that the operation of hospitals and clinics was a desirable approach to the Copts and other non-Christians. Teaching the illiterate, working among women and youth, training the local residents for leadership--these also were shifts and developments in the mission work. Recently the missionaries decided to place Egyptian pastors on the boards of some schools. This represents a step in the direction of local responsibility for the mission. The American Mission organized the United Presbyterian Church of Egypt or the Evangelical Church in the Valley of the Nile which grew and spread and now has the Synod of the Nile with eight presbyteries, about 25,000 Church members, 250 congregations, 180 pastors, and an Evangelical community of about 100,000 people. The Evangelical Church runs parochial schools for boys and girls which are independent of the American Missions schools. The Church School has no organized departments or closely graded material except a paper of two pages part of which is published for the children and the rest is for the adults. The dissertation discusses the needs of the Church School of Egypt for: 1) the orgemization of its departments; 2) the setting of a suitable curriculum and a comprehensive program; 3) the publication of closely graded material; and 4) the training of teachers. CONCLUSION Thr religions have predominated in Egypt through her long history: paganism, Christianity, and Islam. These religions hav emphasized the following: 1) The importance of the Holy Books - the Book of the Dead; the Holy Bible; and the Quran. 2) The establishment of sanctuaries - temples; churches; and mosques. 3) The development of theological schools. The University of Heliopolis or On; The Catechetical School of Alexandria; and the University of the Azhar at Cairo. 4) Th training of teachers. 5) The satisfying of the deities and asking their favour. 6) A belief in a Day of Judgment and in Future Life after bodily resurrection. 7) A belief in Paradise - Elysian Field or Land of Bliss; Heaven; and a Lake of Fire or Hell. 8) Authoritative methodology. 9) Shifts and developments of techniques to attain the best possible goals and results. 10) God-fearing people.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University
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