But in many ways, the pros and cons of the draft constitution have been overshadowed by the worst crisis to hit Egypt since the overthrow nearly two years ago of Hosni Mubarak's authoritarian regime. With killings and mass street protests defining the past three weeks, newspaper and TV commentators have warned of a country moving toward civil strife and a schism that may not be bridged.
The crisis also has united the long fractured opposition, which had considered boycotting the referendum but instead officially launched a campaign Thursday calling on voters to go to the polls and reject it.
Mostly liberal and secular protesters opposed to the charter marched on the presidential palace Friday chanting against what they called "the Brotherhood constitution."
The densely written document was passed by an 85-member constituent assembly composed of mostly Islamists earlier this month. Morsi rushed it to a vote scheduled for the next two Saturdays.
Earlier, liberals and church representatives withdrew from the panel drafting the charter, protesting the efforts of its Islamists to pass articles and embed others with clauses they feared could usher in a theocracy.
The opposition took out advertisements in newspapers and on television detailing their arguments against the charter. The Morsi camp's message was far simpler. A "Yes" to the constitution is a yes to Islam.
Sheik Mohammed Sayyed, affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, put it bluntly during prayers at the el-Helali mosque elsewhere in Assuit. "Tomorrow is the day we will seek victory of Islam," he said.
"The first phase of implementing Shariah (Islamic law) is the election of a Muslim president. The second phase is to hold referendum on the constitution," he said, urging voters to go to the polls in groups. "Those calling themselves liberals and salvation of Egypt, are saboteurs who sabotage Egypt."