Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Met Georges Khodr on Sectarian Prejudice

Arabic original here.

Sectarian Prejudice

Prejudice [al-ta3assub] comes from the word 'nerve' [3asab]. That is, a movement of emotions that is only slightly governed by reason. The deep question is how you can be religious and not love the people of your religion in a special way since there is a deep, fundamental bond between you, the bond of faith. Prejudice does not come about from faith in God, if we understand it to be a kind of social solidarity that does not necessarily indicate any religious feelings that bring you together with your fellow believers or distance you from those with other beliefs. To speak philosophically, prejudice is a tribal feeling that is without content and is based on a knee-jerk solidarity with the people of your religion, whether with much or little understanding.

Prejudice is always tied to ignorance of the other's religion or the reality of what is in the other's heart. Your opinion is based on what you have heard socially about these people or that, about the habits that you attribute to the people of a religion about which you might know little because if you knew much, then you would have to esteem and respect it if you love rightly.

Most often, our knowledge of the situation shows that those who hate people of another religion or have reservations about them only know a little about them and their religion. I am completely sure that if you are a Christian and you know a lot about Islam and love what you know, your heart will embrace the Muslims around you and if you are educated, you will hold in esteem much from their religion and openly recognize the truth that is in their religion.

Then, if your heart expands for good things, you will see that in his religion there is a splendor that you would not see if your hart is shut. The time has come for us to be reconciled to the fact that religions are not pens or political parties and that if you them, you can experience their openness, especially if you love the great people of faith in them because deep down they belong to God. I will even dare to say that they come  from God.So long as you do not understand this, you are relegating God to heaven and have not seem Him on earth.

The rule, then, is for you to love people with the same love, no matter what religion they belong to. Your beliefs are for you and you heart is for everyone. Love goes out from you to every person with the same force. If you distinguish in your love between people of different religions, then you do not have religion. In its activity, reason can discriminate. If the heart is pure, it does not discriminate. If people are brought together by hearts, then they are one. Those whose hearts are not open to all types of people have no god. In your heart, you are no closer to the people of your religion. Did the Righteous Augustine not say, "Love your neighbor and do what you will"? This is because the African saint understood that the one who loves does not err.

I understand very deeply that you who are religious love the good people of your religion. This is a profound kinship because it belongs to God. However, I understand just as strongly that the great Christian loves the great Muslim and vice versa because each of them knows that the other belongs to God. With the surety of my Orthodox faith I say that Christian dogma commands me to embrace Muslims with the same love that I have for Christians and that theological conviction does not divide hearts. This is because as a Christian, if you love all people equally, you see them as one in Christ. Religions are not pens and God does not separate between their people, so if God sees them as one, why do you want them to judge each other? I did not say that the religions are one. I said that people are one because God sees them as one.

It is easy for the believer who has attained great religious culture to love all people with the same strength and to distinguish between what they say. In our Christian theology, if a non-Christian is one in behavior with the Christian, then the Lord looks upon them in the same way. According to the most precise Christian teaching, he is a Christian. There are those who have been baptized by their families with water and there are those whom the Lord has baptized by the Holy Spirit, no matter what religion they belong to. In the deepest sense, the Church is what the Lord sees and there are baptized and unbaptized in her.

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