Friday, February 21, 2014

Fr Georges Massouh: We are not Dhimmis

Arabic original here.

We are not Dhimmis

Our column entitled "You ripped the cross from the nuns' necks-- go ahead and rip it off!" (an-Nahar, February 12, 2014) provoked resentment among some of our Syrian brothers, since they considered it to have a sectarian character because it talks about the suffering of one group of Syrians but not others. If those who feel resentment read the article well, they would find the following: "The Syrian Christian is not more precious than others, a church is not more precious than a mosque, and Maaloula is not more precious than the neighborhoods of Homs and Aleppo... We are all equal before the merciful God who loves mankind."

Did those who feel resentment not notice that we did not call for people to take up arms to liberate the bishops and the nuns and that we categorically rejected taking hostages to exchange for their release? Did they not realize that if we were forced to choose between being crucifiers and being crucified, that we would choose to be crucified like our Jesus of Nazareth?

However, we refuse to remain silent while our dignity is violated. Christ who refused to resist evil with evil did not remain silent. Rather, he said to the guard who struck Him, "“If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?” (John 18:23). Jesus did not imitate the person who attacked Him. However, He did demand the truth from him.

Our dignity compels us to refuse to be treated as though we were dhimmis. Is there not in the very use of the term "dhimmis [literally, 'people under protection']" arrogance and tyranny. Yes, we refuse to be "people  under the Prophet's protection" or "people under the Muslims' protection" or "people under God's protection" according to the Islamic understanding... Likewise, we refuse to be "people under the regime's protection" or "people under the opposition's protection" or Russia or America... We do not want favors or charity from anyone. We are the people of Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone.

It is recounted that the Christians of the Arab tribe of Taghlib refused for the term "dhimmis" to be applied to them  and refused to pay the jizya. Concerning this the sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi says that "the Christians of the Arab tribe of Taghblib asked Umar [ibn al-Khattab] to pay an alms tax like the Muslims, but doubled. Umar accepted this from them and made a truce with them on this basis. He said about it, 'These people are fools. They accept the meaning but they reject the name'" (from Qaradawi, Religious Minorities and the Islamic Solution, p. 14). No, these people are not fools. They are dignified and their nobility compelled them to refuse to be enslaved by their fellow Arabs on account of a difference in religious affiliation. What some consider "foolishness" others might consider "the peak of wisdom."

Our dignity lies in our "foolishness". We are "fools" because we dream of a just civil state where citizens are equal in rights and responsibilities. We are "fools" because we strive for good in a time when evil reigns. We are "fools" because we bear the cross of all Syrians... because we believe that "the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God... Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (1 Corinthians 1:18, 25). We are "fools", yes. But we are not dhimmis.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mamnounak, Abouna, iktîr!

Your lines are a piece of true XPCtian wisdom

May we learn to understand and cherish this 'foolishness' that saved the world, Ones and for All
and Forever, even hence today