Egypt's Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa underscored the absolute necessity of maintaining national unity in Egypt and that acrimonious political debates must not detract us from this overriding imperative.
In his article on the occasion of Eastern Christmas, Gomaa congratulated all of Egypts Christian churches on the birth of the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him).
Reuters quoted Gomaa as saying in a statement by Egypt's Dar al-Iftaa that "I prayed that the spirit of the holidays prevails and that all the country's citizens - indeed, all citizens of the world - strengthen their resolve to work for the spreading of love, peace on Earth, goodwill and the brotherhood of all."
"I also took the occasion to clarify that wishing Christians well on the birth of the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) is in fact a praiseworthy and encouraged action within Islam because it is a verbal expression of the desire to promote peaceful and harmonious relations between neighbors, fellow citizens and brothers and sisters in mankind," Gomaa said.
"Indeed, the births of the prophets are landmark historical events. They represent a sudden flourish of divinely inspired men who come to Earth to preach peace and security and to spread a message of happiness and guidance to humanity at large," he added.
He went on to say "As I prayed on the occasion of Christmas, I beseech God to increase our precious Egypt in fraternal sentiment, love, strong relations and goodness, and to preserve our blessed land as a symbol of peace and security always."
"Muslims and Christians alike are encouraged to transform sentiments of solidarity into true unity for the sake of the welfare of Egypt, and not in the interests of individual advancement or sectarian gain," Gomaa said.
"This is crucial so that we may leave to future generations a pluralistic, humane culture at the root of which is true faith, a commitment to justice and love between the peoples of this great land," he added.
"The promotion of harmony was the premier lesson of the great prophets who left for us lofty values and perennial principles for living together cooperatively as humans. It is now upon us to take up this example seriously and refrain from unnecessary division for the sake of our country," he underlined.
"Any attempt to sow discord among the people of this land must be opposed in the strongest terms possible. I have no doubt that forces that seek to divide Egyptian Muslims from Egyptian Christians - and Egyptian Muslims and Christians amongst themselves - will ultimately fail," Gomaa said.
He concluded Egypt has been a symbol of coexistence for centuries and will continue to be by the grace of God. Islam will have a place in Egypt's democracy. But it will be as a pillar of tolerance and harmony, never as a means of oppression.