In January 25th's Egyptian revolution we are witnessing the yearning of the young for democracy and freedom translated into peaceful action powerful enough to shake to its foundation one of the many dictatorial and tyrannical regimes in the Middle East. Its ripples will fan out to the whole of the Arab and the Muslim world. The end of tyranny is here, but the transfer to democracy and freedom is not yet complete. This is the beginning of the end of dictatorships in the Arab and the Muslim world. There is no going back.
The young people of Egypt have given the world a lesson in the power of collective action. They have shown that their idealism, passion, resilience and their courage are stronger and more powerful than the instruments of repression and violence wielded by the regime of Hosni Mubarak. Their tenacity in using peaceful means to fight the forces of darkness is nothing short of miraculous. The death and injury of more than a thousand is a testament to their determination and willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice for the ideals of human rights, justice and a dignified life.
Young Muslims, Christians and others who may not be religious, men and women in their hundreds of thousands, stood together connected by a bond of humanity to demand an end to dictatorship and tyranny. The Imam in Friday 4th's prayers in Alexandria in his sermon said: "In your behaviour and conduct you have demonstrated to the world the tenets of Christianity and Islam". The images of Christian youths linking arms to protect Muslims while they prayed reciprocated the acts of compassion and courage shown by Muslims that followed the appalling attack on a church in Alexandria on New Year's Day 2011. Following the attack, Muslims joined and mingled with the worshippers in the church to protect them from those who would pollute Islam with their abhorrent acts of murder.
The youth of Egypt is showing us that mean spiritedness, obsession with race and religion, and aggressive nationalism, are characteristics that belong to a darker foregone era that is unfortunately still ingrained in those of us with closed minds, unable to see the amazing possibilities. Tolerance, compassion and humanity that are part of the human spirit and must be within us all, have been amply demonstrated by those in Freedom (Tahrir) Square and other cities.
Contrast the ideas and the imagination of the pro-democracy youth with that of Hosni Mubarak's supporters roaming the streets full of hate, intolerance and violence. This encapsulates the darkness of the Hosni Mubarak regime. It was characterised by torture, beatings and intimidation of any one or any group for the slightest criticism of his corrupt and tyrannical rule.
The Qur'an emphasises the dignity of human life and its special place in God's creation. The equality between people regardless of race, colour and creed is underscored in the Qur'an and the Sunna of the prophet Mohammed (his actions and sayings). The essential prerequisite for respecting human rights of the individual is to recognise the humanity of all. The quote below from the Qur'an elevates the status of human beings above that of Angels:
"Remember when we said to the Angels: Fall prostrate before Adam, they fell prostrate, all except Satan, who refused." [Qur'an 20.116]
The quote above and the one below also demonstrate that arrogance is a characteristic of Satan, and a true Muslim is commanded to avoid it.
"God does not love the arrogant, the vainglorious." [Qur'an 4.36]
This status afforded to mankind implies that we must deal with one another with respect and dignity. The Qur'an commands that justice and fairness must be the basis for dealings between people and nations:
"O you who believe, you shall be absolutely just in your dealings, and observe God, when you serve as witnesses. Do not be provoked by your conflicts with some people into committing injustice. You shall be absolutely just, for it is more righteous. You shall observe God. God is fully cognisant of everything you do" [Qur'an 5.8]
The Qur'an commands that negotiations and discussions, conducted with good manners, grace and respect, must be the basis for solving disagreements and disputes:
"You shall invite others to the path of your Lord with wisdom and kind enlightenment and debate with them in the best possible manner. Your Lord knows best who has strayed from His path, and He knows best who the guided ones are. And if you punish, let the punishment be proportionate to the wrong that has been done to you. But if you resort to forgiveness ( instead of revenge), it would be the better way." [Qur'an 16.125-126]
A violent response is only allowed in Islam in self defence:
"You may fight in the cause of God against those who attack you, but do not aggress. God does not love aggressors." [Qur'an 2.256]
Dictators in the Muslim world violate every tenet of Islam, They are arrogant, unjust, cruel, and self-obsessed. They have no concept of the human rights of their subjects.
Democracy, freedom, justice and respect for human rights are what the Egyptians are fighting for, and we should all give them unequivocal support, no ifs, no buts.