In Egypt, religion governs many elements of everyday life and is legally sanctioned. Egypt's official religion is Islam. The country's population is primarily Sunni Muslim (85–95 percent), with Coptic Orthodox Christians accounting for the second largest religious minority (estimates range from 5–15 percent). There are also small numbers of Shia Muslims, Jews, and Protestants.
Religion has been a major factor in driving political change. Since the overthrow of King Faruq in 1952, every Egyptian president has been Muslim, which helped cement Islam as the nation's official religion. However, neither President Anwar Sadat (1981-1981) nor President Hosni Mubarak (1985-2011) was Islamic; rather, they were both members of the Christian Coptic Church.
Currently, there are fears that Egypt's upcoming presidential election will be rigged to ensure that incumbent Mubarak's son Gamal inherits the presidency. Critics say that since Gamal is a member of the ruling party, he would not be eligible to run for office himself. If this happens, then it would mark the first time in decades that the presidency is not held by an Islamic figure.
In conclusion, religion is important in Egypt because it provides some sense of identity for its people. Without this connection, they would lack a common purpose and could possibly split into different countries.
Egypt's official religion is Islam.
The majority of Cairo's residents are Muslims. Egypt also has a sizable Christian community, accounting for around 10% of the total population. The Coptic Orthodox Church, Egypt's leading religion prior to Islam, is home to the vast majority of Christians. There are other Protestant churches and a small Jewish community.
During ancient times, Egypt was inhabited by several different cultures with different religions. Ancient Egyptians believed that God had chosen Moses to lead his people out of slavery in order to bring about a future world without sin where everyone would live in harmony and peace. Over time, many Christians came to believe that Jesus was this promised Messiah and that he should be worshipped as a god. This belief caused a lot of conflict with the Egyptian government which banned Christianity in 30 A.D., only allowing it back after Constantine made Rome Catholic Christianity in A.D. 380.
After the Arab invasion in 639 A.D., most Egyptians adopted Islam. However, there have been protests throughout Egypt when one religious group has attempted to convert or oppress others within their own country. In 1823, Muhammad Ali Pasha, the ruler at the time, organized a campaign to "Islamize" Egypt by force. This led to many battles between the Egyptian army and Christian priests who were defending their beliefs. After many years of fighting, Muhammad Ali's army finally defeated the Christians and forced them to accept Islam.
Egypt is currently 85–90% Sunni Muslim and 10–15 percent Coptic Christian. Nonetheless, the Coptic Church (which is Orthodox) retains certain aspects of ancient Egyptian religion, such as the calendar and the use of Coptic in liturgy (which is ultimately descended from ancient Egyptian).
During the medieval era, Egypt was dominated by the Fatimid Caliphate, which was actually a series of related sects that began with an Islamic reform movement led by Muhammad ibn al-Fanā'ūl. The movement rejected the authority of traditional scholars and instead put their faith in a spiritual guide they called "the Prophet" - who some believe was actually Jesus Christ returned to Earth.
The rejection of traditional learning and the adoption of "Prophetic guidance" as the main source of law and knowledge resulted in several problems for the Fatimids. First, they didn't have any experts in theology or philosophy so they had to rely on foreigners for assistance. This caused many problems since not all foreigners were welcome in Fatimid Egypt and those who were allowed in position held much power over those who weren't. For example, the leading scholar of the time was only willing to work with Europeans because they could pay him more money than the Arabs.
Second, because legal decisions were based on religious beliefs rather than on objective facts, the Fatimids ended up with multiple legal systems under one government.
Christianity is Egypt's second most popular religion. While Egyptian government estimate a sizable minority at 10-15% and church leaders at 25%, Egypt's Christian community is the greatest in absolute numbers in the Middle East and North Africa. The majority of Egyptians are Muslims, but a significant minority (about 14%) are Christian. Catholics account for nearly all of Egypt's Christian population; there are no Orthodox churches or priests in Egypt.
In fact, Christianity came to Egypt almost entirely through the efforts of Catholic missionaries. In addition to translating the Bible into Arabic, these missionaries built many hospitals and schools across Egypt. They also had to fight discrimination against women and children who were treated as second class citizens. In addition, they were not allowed to hold public office which only increased discrimination against them.
Today, most Christians in Egypt are Catholics, although Protestants form a growing minority.
Almost everything about being a Christian in Egypt is different from being a Christian in the West. For example, Catholics must receive their sacramentals - symbols of Christ's presence and love for us - in church once a week. Protestants can receive them at any time during a worship service. Also, Catholics attend mass every Sunday while Protestants often meet on other days of the week or even twice on Sunday.
Amber, Egypt is more secular in terms of not permitting religion to influence with government than many other Middle Eastern nations, but because it is around 75% Islamic, with Sunnis obviously outnumbering other religions, there is some prejudice against other religions. There have been attacks on churches and monks being beaten and killed by Muslims who believe they are fighting against religious oppression.
In fact, according to the United States Department of State, "Egypt has one of the most vibrant Christian communities in the Middle East." The majority of Egyptians are Muslim, but also include members of other faiths including Christianity, Judaism, and Baha'i. Approximately 10% of the population is non-religious.
The state officially promotes Islam as the religion of the country and its president must be a Muslim, but no other religion can be promoted by law. In practice, however, Christians and Jews suffer from discrimination in employment and education, especially if they are not Muslim.
There have been efforts over the years by certain politicians to introduce legislation that would make Egypt an exclusively Islamic state, but so far these attempts have failed.
In conclusion, Egypt is a secular country but there is still some prejudice against others religions.