Friday, November 19, 2010

Met. Georges Khodr on Christians in the Middle East

The Arabic original can be found here.

The Christians in the East

"You are the best community that has been created for mankind,
enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong."

Are those who killed people praying in Iraq still part of the Muslim community? Who will tell them that they have left this community since they have committed evil? From al-Azhar to Najaf, passing through all the Muslims of the world, who will read to them from their Book: "if anyone kills a person- unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he killed all mankind (Surat al-Ma'ida 32)"?

I cannot believe that a billion or more Muslims are unable to stop these murderers. A Friday sermon against these butchers of innocent people at prayer is not enough. In the best case, denouncement means that your mind or your conscience does not accept the massacre of people worshiping their Lord during the time of worship. Condemnation is a necessary first step at best, but spilled blood is still blood.

Muslims are a tenacious community who do not accept injustice and do not allow themselves to be humiliated. They have a strong sense of unity and a sense of their power and they reject any injustice that is committed against them. However, this community commits injustice against itself and allows its image to be distorted when it allows those criminals to have control over its reputation. I do not understand why Muslims from Mecca to Indonesia do not move to cut these murderers off from the community, whatever legal term is used for expelling them.
The place where the leaders of this terrorist movement live is not unknown. The leaders walk about with complete freedom in some mountainous regions of Asia that are not far from the eyes of the authorities. They do not escape the view of satellites. Who is watching these satellites? Neighboring countries and far-off countries have certain knowledge of their presence, but remain silent and uninvolved. The question is who who had something to gain from the massacre of those people who were praying in the Church of Our Lady of Deliverance? Who benefits from the killing of these martyrs? What are the countries that are overseeing the territory of that church in Baghdad? The martyrs have gone on to heavenly glory, and they join us to the face of the Father and they strengthen the Church because we are joined to their glorious bodies. Their voices went silent in the moments when they were slaughtered and their Savior took them to His breast because they have become beloved.

Their blood sanctified Iraq and lifted its righteous people up to the bosom of God. Iraq is made great through their blood and good, sincere Muslims are made great because the people are united together in their testimony that has placed a certain degree of righteousness in this Arab people who are threatened by the swords of lawless men until the day when God arises and judges the earth and we make our pilgrimage together to the Holy City.

If the sanctuaries of the east sowed righteousness in its land, why must righteous people die? Why must children be trampled? But God, may He be blessed and exalted, sends down His grace upon innocent blood and it speaks the truth.

After my pain, I have pity for those murderers who are commanded by their Book to not clothe truth in falsehood (Surat al-Baqara 42). However, I would like to say to them that they will never be able to put an end to the Christians because they have a secret in their history, and it is that martyrdom, from the time of the Romans increased their numbers, because it is a witness to their love of those who hate them. They are always forgiving and do not hate because hatred is a denial of a person's humanity and one makes a mistake to think that it ever bears fruit. "He who lives by the sword dies by the sword" (Matthew 26:52). One who destroys others will be destroyed by God and for one who does not use the sword, God is his only kingdom, and God alone.

We try very hard to convince ourselves that we are not in the minority when we have faith that in this modern era people believe that religion is in the heart and that it is not a tool for domination or division and that people are able, in the company of their Lord, to live together and to truly cooperate, to stand out in all fields of human knowledge and to use them for everyone's benefit. We see that here in this country and we rejoice in it. The model we have here of national cooperation can be exported to the entire Arab world in which we live together to this day. However, we have an eye on Iraq and an eye on Egypt, where some of our beloved Copts are martyred every year. If you knew them as I myself know them, you would see that there is no one who surpasses them in their love for Egypt and in their intellectual service to that great country. That said, we are certain that Syria, Lebanon, and what remains of Palestine are safe from sectarian hatred and there is no place for fear on the level of citizenship. It is our hope that the sickness of Iraq does not reach here, lest Arabness loses the Christian splendor that it has. But if people fear for the future of their children, then they are liable to emigrate. That is a great illness.

In July or August of 1975, Metropolitan Eliya Saliba, the Orthodox bishop of Beirut, gathered at his residence a group of Lebanese personalities, Muslim and Christian and I was there. Pierre al-Jamil stood up and said, "We Christians are afraid." Taqi al-Din al-Solh, may God have mercy on them both, responded, "Is it not shameful for a person to be afraid?" Pierre al-Jamil replied, "Is it not shameful for a person to cause fear?" My point now is not to support one or the other, but I will say that fear is shameful for one who uses it and one who receives it because we are all exempt in our citizenship from human fear. In my reckoning, we in Lebanon believe in each other. However I would like to emphasize here that no group governs another group and that the nation is enough to govern us all. Dhimmitude no longer exists because the Ottoman state it in the 19th century abolished it from the law. I hope that it no longer exists in anyone's mind, because if it did, it would be a danger both to those who remain in the country and those who have emigrated.

I would like to believe that there is not a plan for the Islamization of this land, since it ultimately means that Christians would leave their homes quietly and politely.

I believe that Lebanese Muslims are honest and sincere when they affirm their commitment to Christians' remaining. Love has grown between us for a very long time, as well as friendships and family relationships.

However, these relationships must be protected politically and economically as we strengthen all aspects of the country.

However, we are brothers with the Christians of Iraq and Egypt and Israel. There there is special fear since the declaration of the Jewish state and I do not in any way exculpate them in any way from being categorized alongside extremist Islamic movements.

As an epilogue, we cling to the bosom of Christ who promised us that He will be with us until the end of the ages. It is He and not us who is the entire age. We are certain that we will remain until His coming, whether we are alive in the body or outside the body. This is a matter of piety for Christians and Muslims until God inherits the earth and all that is in it.


Anonymous said...

"Who benefits from these atrocities?" The occupiers do as it gives them the guise under which to argue a reason for being there (e.g. "to establish security"). How do we know if some of those market and church bombings are not of Western origin?

On the other hand, the West also has used talk of "righteous war", "god-retoric" and eschatological-apocalyptic archetype to woo the public support. In so doing they have attempted to lure in Christianity, and wed it with Political Policy into a single indivable entity. When subverted, Christianity (and Christians) become the scapegoat who take the direct aim of any blowback.

And that in turn is used to congeal further support between Christians, Western Governments (and their Middle East Allies) irregardless of the morality of any ulterior motive or colonial agenda or policy that they may have in the region.

Anonymous said...

If it is permissible to post links here are two that are perhaps worthy of further consideration: (Orthodox may not be aware of this popular teaching nor realize its implications/ramifications)

Samn! said...

Both anonymouses,

I don't think this blog is really the place to comment on politics of any sort....

However, a point that Met. Georges makes very frequently is the necessity of distinguishing Orthodox Christians from the political agendas of people who are nominally Western Christians..... It's really a point that can't be made too often. However, in the middle east, Iraqi and Egyptian Christians constantly suffer because of things that go on in the West that they have literally nothing to do with.....