In the course of their 25-year-old friendship, Muslim Mohammad and Christian Abdel Malak took into their strides communal differences and proved that a friend is the real estate in life.
Both have many things in common that knitted them together. They are born to practicing and reputable families in the Delta town of Tanta and the southern city of Sohag.
The good image lingered on in their children, whose friendship has been the talk of Cairo's district of Zaitoun, where mosque minarets join church towers in a splendid rare scene of religious harmony.
Both came from the countryside to live in cosmopolitan Cairo and a start a new lease of life with anxiety and fears of the unknown.
But when they met in the Faculty of Commerce, Ain Shams University, each found himself a refuge.
Over four years in university and beyond, Mohammad and Abdel Malak translated their friendship into action, proving that the real friend is the one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.
Mohamad and Abdel Malak went their separate ways for the first time when they graduated and enrolled at the Army to do their military service.
It was breaking their hearts that they were to serve in different branches of the military; Mohamad in Sinai, east of Cairo, and Abdel Malak in Marsa Matrouh, in the northwest.
But far in distance, they were close at their friendship, which grew fonder through non-stops phone calls and mail.
United in Misfortunes
They were also united in misfortunes. After doing their military service, both chaps suffered from the chronic disease that afflicts the vast majority of youths in Egypt after graduation: unemployment.
Believing in each other when others ceased to believe in them, they did not cave in and were resolved to find jobs following three years of on-and-off trials.
They supported each other in their hard times. Abdel Malak hosted Mohammad at the flat of his elder brother, who immigrated to the United States, to spare him costly rentals, which were a drain on his pocket.
Finally, Abdel Malak found a niche in business thanks to one of his relatives, who had trained him in his brokerage company.
Disappointed to find a permanent job, Abdel Malak opted for the bourse.
The hard work of Mohammad had landed him in one of the major banks in the country.
Freedom of Religion
Neither of them had ever tried to influence the religious beliefs of the other.
Rather, they were encouraging each other to observe Islamic and Christian teachings.
In the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, Abdel Malak used to prepare the iftar meal to Mohammad after a long day at work. He usually waited for Mohammad to dine together.
Mohammad also used to join Abdel Malak in wedding celebrations in churches.
"I never thought to belittle the scriptures or rituals of dear Abdel Malak as my father instilled the respect of the other into me," he said.
Their families did not miss a religious occasion to greet one another, the latest of which the Orthodox Christmas on January 7 and the Muslim `Eid Al-Adha days before, forgetting about grudges harbored by some Muslims and Christians to each other in the country.
When it was time for the two pals to tie the knot, Mohammad and Abdel Malakbought two opposite flats at the same building.
If it had not been for their different religions, both "brothers" would have married two sisters.
Yet, they did celebrate their weddings together on the same day and at the same place with their joyful families and friends.
Excited by the rare friendship, their new wives were motivated to got to know more about each other.
Now they can hardly spend a day without a visit or at least a phone call.