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Salafists Say Celebrating Easter, Sham El-Nessim Is Forbidden For Muslims

Salafists Say Celebrating Easter, Sham El-Nessim Is Forbidden For Muslims

Egyptian families celebrate Sham El-Nessim in 2013 at a park in Cairo. Credit: Amru Salahuddien
Egyptian families celebrate Sham El-Nessim in 2013 at a park in Cairo. Credit: Amru Salahuddien

Egypt’s Salafists have released a ‘Dawah’ (guideline) that has declared celebrating Easter and Sham El-Nessim as prohibited for Muslims.

Released to members of the Salafist Call, the pamphlet states that going to parks, paintings eggs, eating feseesk (an Egyptian delicacy consumed during Sham El-Nessim) and other holiday-related activities are prohibited, reported independent Arabic newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm.

According to AMAY, Salafist Call’s Yasser Borhamy had previously issued a fatwa prohibiting the eating of feseekh (salted fish) on the day as it acknowledges the Ancient Egyptian and Christians’ feasts.

The Salafist Call believes that Muslims should only celebrate Eid and are prohibited from acknowledging the holidays of other faiths.

What is Sham El-Nessim?

Two Egyptian girls play during a gathering at a church as they celebrate the traditional festival “Sham el-Nessim” in 2014. Credit: Pan Chaoyue
Two Egyptian girls play during a gathering at a church as they celebrate the traditional festival “Sham el-Nessim” in 2014. Credit: Pan Chaoyue

Sham El-Nessim (Smelling of the Zephyr) has been celebrated in Egypt as early as 4,500 years ago. The national holiday marks the beginning of spring and falls on the Monday after the Coptic Easter.

The name of the holiday comes from the Ancient Egyptian name of the harvest season that was called “Shamo” (renewal of life). The feast of Shamo was first celebrated in 2700 BC. On the day, Ancient Egyptians would feast at the foot of the Great Pyramid and eat salted fish.

As Christianity was introduced, the holiday became known as “Sham El Nessim,” where many women would break an onion and smell it in the morning.

Today, Egyptians celebrate the holiday with their families in open spaces or at their houses. Food remains a central aspect of the holiday, with feseekh being one of the most popular dishes. Coloured eggs – symbolizing new life in Ancient Egypt – are also made and eaten on the day.

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