Modern Miracles




A work in progress about the role of miracles in contemporary Egypt.

Egypt is full of miracles, large and small; pharaonic, jewish, christian, and islamic; historic and modern. They are fascinating stories to outsiders but play a living role in the communities who share them.

Instead of approaching religion through doctrine or politics we will look at it through the physical manifestations of God in the world.

In the west, miracles are often seen as rare, ancient and abstract; in Egypt they are common and discussed as the daily news. We will bridge this gap of understanding from the distant Bible stories to miracles continuing role in the modern world.

An egyptologist holds a rock wrapped in leather. He found it in a gift shop in upper Egypt and recognized it as talisman popular a few hundred years ago. When shared with a specialist they agreed that it had been in someone's pocket for a long time. Even though he is an avowed atheist he still holds onto it as his lucky rock.

A father brings his son, who has mental problems, to a faith healer in Esna El-

The footprints of Mohamed left in a rock in the qibla of Sidi Barzouq Mosque in old Cairo. It is said that when the prophet Mohamed walked on sand he didn't leave any footprints, it is only when he walked on stone that footprints appeared.

A bush burns from tear gas on January 25th 2011, the start of the Egyptian revolution.

Mossad washes his leg in the water of a church that the holy family stopped at on their trip through Egypt. A year ago 5 doctors told him to amputate his leg due to diabetes, he changed his job to one beside the church and now washes his leg every day in the water and says that it is a miracle the doctors can't explain, but his leg is now much better.

The cave used by the hermit St Anthony from the 4th Century in the desert of Egypt. Today many pilgrims visit it and leave their prayers stuffed in holes in the stone.

A skewer pierces the cheek of a child during a demonstration of faith at the celebration of the Abu al-Hasan ash-Shadhili, held annually in the desert of south eastern Egypt. They say that faith prevents any infection or bleeding.

Mary's Tree, reputed to have sheltered the holy family on their trip through Egypt in Mattareya, a low income neighborhood of Cairo. The neighborhood had venerated the tree for decades, but recently the antiquities ministry walled it off and the original tree died.

Worshipers climb Mount Hosiyra and build piles of rocks with the hope of God reciprocating by giving them a house. Just one of the traditions practiced at the celebration of Abu al-Hasan ash-Shadhili that occurs annually in the desert of south eastern Egypt, near the border with Sudan.

Six months after visiting visiting Mount Hosiyra a member of the Sufi Refai School shows off his new house that is under construction. He hopes to finish it before Ramadan.

Worshipers roll in the dirt at the Seven Daughters graves in Bahnasa, near Minya on October 14, 2016 in Cairo, Egypt. People roll on the ground to get blessings usually to help with back pain or to get pregnant. A major battle occurred during the Islamic invasion of Egypt in the field and thousands of soldiers died making it blessed ground.

A church in the St. Anthony Monastery complex in eastern desert.

Women gather beside a sacred tree that bleeds in the village of Dishna. Every Friday, while the men go into the mosque to pray the women gather outside, they light small fires and wave their children over them 7 times to help get out bad spirits. They also gather blood from the tree for medicinal purposes.

A young adherent participates in the zikr at the moulid of Abu al-Hasan ash-Shadhili.

A casket stands in the the office of the priest, Father Saman during a Sunday brunch. He says it is to remind him that he has no power of when he will die, a common belief in the immutability of fate in Egypt.

Cairo, Egypt - May 25: Portrait of musician Ahmed El Ghazoly <[email protected]> on May 25, 2017 in Cairo, Egypt. (Photo by David Degner/Getty Reportage)

At the Simon the Tanner church there are weekly prayer services to cast out devils and heal the sick. A room off to the side is used to store the wheelchairs and crutches the healed no longer need.

Sheikh Fathala memorized the Quran when he was 7 years old and taught it children in his village throughout his 94 year life. Now that he is bed ridden his daughter has taken over the responsibility of teaching. Most of her day is spent with visitors who come to pray beside the sheikh and take small baggies of blessed water.

During the celebration of Sayida Zeinab a man tries to see behind the stage of a magic show.

A scene in the street outside a Sufi shrine in Dishna, upper Egypt.

A beautiful smell appeared in an abandoned field in the industrial city of 10th of Ramadan. People came from near and far speculating on the source of the pleasant smell. Many people came to gather the sand saying that a martyr had been buried there. Others said it was waste from a soap factory. After a few weeks the local government dumped trash on the spot to discourage visitors. The next day a man passing with the pictured loader pushed the trash aside and picked up a bag of the sand to take home and put in his garden.

A man stops outside the tent of a Rifai school at a moulid and sways back and forth to the music.

At the mosque of Al-Sultan Al-Hanafi in central Cairo. The mosque is famous for its well which is said to be connected to the Zamzam well in mecca. People come and drink the water for it's restorative qualities.

A baggie of blessed water at the house of Sheikh Fathala in Esna.

Cairo, Egypt - May 07: In the mosque of Sidi Barzouq a rock holds the imprints of two feet, though it is highly contentious some say it is the footprint of Mohamed on May 07, 2017 in Cairo, Egypt. (Photo by David Degner/Getty Reportage)

Cairo, Egypt - May 12: Alleged footprints of Mohamed at the Sultan Quytbey Mosque on May 12, 2017 in Cairo, Egypt. (Photo by David Degner/Getty Reportage)

Cairo, Egypt - May 23: Portrait of musician Ahmed El Ghazoly <[email protected]> on May 23, 2017 in Cairo, Egypt. (Photo by David Degner/Getty Reportage)

Cairo, Egypt - May 23: Portrait of musician Ahmed El Ghazoly <[email protected]> on May 23, 2017 in Cairo, Egypt. (Photo by David Degner/Getty Reportage)

Cairo, Egypt - June 10: Portrait of musician Ahmed El Ghazoly <[email protected]> on June 10, 2017 in Cairo, Egypt. (Photo by David Degner/Getty Reportage)

Cairo, Egypt - May 22: Portrait of musician Ahmed El Ghazoly <[email protected]> on May 22, 2017 in Cairo, Egypt. (Photo by David Degner/Getty Reportage)