(Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawky Allam in Cairo, December 7, 2013/Dar al-Ifta)

The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Shawky Allam is the Grand Mufti of Egypt.

By Grand Mufti Shawky Allam

As Egypt moves ahead along its roadmap after the new draft constitution was brought to fruition, it is only natural to expect more changes in the near future.

But how Egypt will change? What will it develop into? One of the most important questions is what role religion and religious forces will play in the still emerging political scene. Because Egyptian society remains a profoundly religious, the burning question is who can adequately represent the religious interests of the masses and direct them towards peaceful and productive democratic ends?

These are critical questions that underscore the very large challenges ahead of Egypt. What I want to do as an Egyptian is assure the world that Egypt will indeed transform itself into a self-sufficient, democratic member of the community of nations. The events of the past few months, though they have presented their own challenges, are reasons for optimism and hope. And indeed every good believer must remain hopeful, and maintain an attitude of optimism towards both humanity and the Divine.

To achieve this, we must confront the problems we encounter with purpose and determination. The institution of the Dar al-Ifta and my office of Grand Mufti feel a responsibility towards articulating the place of religion in Egypt in the face of the new developments.  This has become especially important as we have witnessed in the past few months flare-ups of sectarian sentiment and indeed violence, both of which are deeply regrettable.  They run counter to the very notion of Egyptian unity and religious cooperation that both the Muslim and Christian faith encourage, uphold and indeed mandate.