After graduating from my MA program in London, I moved to Cairo, Egypt to improve my Egyptian Arabic. I didn’t know a soul in Cairo before I moved there, but I wasn’t scared at all. Why? Because I knew that the Arab culture is incredibly inviting and hospitable, so I knew I would make many friends instantly. Also, a further comfort is that I knew the small Mormon population would help me get settled and feel at home.
Mormons in Egypt
As of 2010, it was illegal to preach any religion that is not an official national religion, which are Islam and Coptic Christianity. So, naturally, there aren’t many Egyptian members of the Mormon church. There is a bustling small congregation (called a ‘branch’), however, full of foreign expatriates who work for charitable or government organizations.
Once a week, the young single adults in Cairo were invited to a member’s home to study the scriptures and get to know each other better. We did not only study the Gospel, but also share our many amazing experiences living in Egypt. And let me tell you, there were some cool stories.
The branch consists of French, Canadians, British, Americans, South Americans, Asians, Africans, Sudanese, and all kinds of other nationalities. The branch meets in a little unmarked villa whose doorman is a kind, pious Muslim who I got to know well as I often went to the church during the week to practice piano.
The official day of the Sabbath in the West in Sunday. Because Friday is Islam’s holy day of the week, our church too met on Fridays. While sacrament meeting and relief society/priesthood were held in English, a special Arabic Sunday School was held to teach Gospel principles. We also studied the Book of Mormon, which has been translated into more than 100 languages, including Arabic.
I loved my experience in Cairo. I loved the Cairo Branch, which welcomed me with open arms. I also loved my fellow Muslim and Coptic brothers and sisters, many of whom would invite me into their homes for a delicious meal, even if they’d just met me.
During my time in Cairo, it became even more clear to me that we are meant to love one another, just as Christ taught, no matter who people are or what they believe. I felt Christ’s influence through Mormons and non-Mormons alike, which, in turn, only strengthened my testimony that He is the Redeemer of the world.