Amani Mustafa talks about escaping Egypt as a Christian and how Islam does not understand human rights
H/T Divineoffice.org From a letter attributed to Barnabas The new law of our Lord
God has abolished the sacrifices of the old law so that the new law of our Lord Jesus Christ, which does not bind by slavish compulsion, might have an offering not made by man. On another occasion he says to them: When I brought your forefathers out of Egypt, I gave them no commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices. I said not a word about them. What I did command was this: Do not contrive any evil against one another, and do not love perjury.
We are not stupid; surely we ought to understand our Father’s kindly purpose in this. He does not want us to go astray as they did, nor to ask how we are to approach him. Here is what he says to us: The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken heart; the fragrance pleasing to the Lord is a soul that gives glory to its Maker. You see, my brothers, we must carefully seek after our own salvation; otherwise, one who is bent on deceiving us will insinuate himself and turn us aside from the path that leads to life.
God spoke of this once again when he said to them: On such a day you are keeping a fast that will not carry your cry to heaven. Is it that sort of fast that I require, a day of mortification like that? But to us he says: Is it not this that I demand of you as a fast—loose the fetters of injustice, untie the knots of all contracts that involve extortion, set free those who have been crushed, tear up every unjust agreement. Share your food with the starving; when you meet a naked man, give him clothing; welcome the homeless into your house.
Accordingly, we must flee from all vanity and show an utter hatred for the deeds of the evil way. Do not turn inward and live only for yourselves as though already assured of salvation; join together rather and seek the common good. For, as Scripture says: Shame on those who are wise in their own judgment and think themselves clever. Rather, let us become spiritual; let us be a perfect dwelling place for God. As far as we can, we should dwell upon the fear of God and strive to keep his commandments, finding our delight in his observances. The Lord will judge the world without respect to persons; everyone will receive his just deserts; if he has been good, his good works will go before him; if wicked, the wages of sin will lie in wait for him. We must never relax our efforts as though our calling were already realized. Never let us fall asleep in a state of sin, lest the prince of wickedness gain power over us and snatch us away from the kingdom of the Lord.
My brothers, grasp this further point: You see the Israelites rejected, even after the many signs and wonders worked among them; let us then see to it that we are not found among those of whom Scripture says: Many are called, but few are chosen.
Michael Amerhom Youssef writes:
…”while millions of Egyptians responded to Morsi’s ouster by joyfully dancing in the streets, the Muslim Brotherhood advisers in the White House helped Obama produce a non-descript statement. With his wishy-washy message about those who are democratically elected, Obama confirmed in Egyptian minds that he is in the pocket of the Muslim Brotherhood.
It is downright depressing to see the leader of the free world unable to comprehend the Islamic understanding of democracy. To the Islamist, democracy means “one man, one vote, one time.” Once they have their power, there’s no reason to ever have another election.
Thank God for the wise and courageous Egyptian people who comprehended that plan and stopped it before it was too late.”
(Michael Amerhom Youssef was born in Egypt in 1948. He studied at Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia and was later ordained there as a minister. His ancestors, like all Christian ancestors, belonged to the Coptic orthodox church. He is a third generation protestant. Youssef moved to the United States with his wife in 1977. In 1978, he received a master’s degree in theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in California. In 1984, he became a United States citizen. Youssef founded The Church of the Apostles in Atlanta in 1987 and currently leads a congregation of over 3,000.)
Some in Congress have argued that Morsi’s ouster was a “coup” by the Egyptian military to depose a democratically elected leader, which under U.S. law triggers a suspension of U.S. aid.
Coup, schmoo. If so, President Obama needs to go to Congress and request a waiver.
Morsi might have been democratically elected, but so was Hitler. Once elected, Hitler set about systematically crushing anyone who disagreed with him — in Parliament, in the Courts, in the military, in the media.
Hitler persecuted religious minorities. Morsi was well on his way to doing the same thing in Egypt, sacking opposition leaders, putting his Muslim Brotherhood cronies in power, ignoring Muslim Brotherhood persecution of Christians.
Looking back, the world would have been a better place if the German military had succeeded in ousting Hitler when they had the chance. Thank goodness the Egyptian military was wiser.
Right now, the world is focussed on Egypt’s political machinations — was it a “coup”?
What will the Muslim Brotherhood do next? What will Obama do?
But even in Egypt, “it’s the economy, stupid.” After just one year in office, the Muslim Brotherhood has so mangled things that the Egyptian economy has gone into free fall.
How many Christians live in the Middle East?
Between 10 million and 12 million. The Middle East is the birthplace of Christianity and home to some of its oldest communities, but the Christian population has dropped dramatically over time, especially over the last decade. When Christianity was founded 2,000 years ago, it spread rapidly across the Roman Empire, into Egypt and westward. Mohammed began the Arab Muslim conquests in the 7th century, spreading Islam across the region, but he allowed Christians to continue practicing their religion. Christians remained a majority in parts of Iraq until the 14th century, when raids by Central Asian warlord Tamerlane decimated the community. The 20th century saw another precipitous drop, because of low birthrates and emigration among Christians. In 1900 Christians made up 25 percent of the population of the Middle East; by 2000 they were less than 5 percent. And then came the Iraq War.
What effect did that war have?
After the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, sectarian tensions long kept in check by Saddam Hussein erupted into civil war between Sunnis and Shiites. Christians — Aramaic-speaking Assyrians with an ancient lineage — were caught in the cross fire. In the decade since the invasion, more than half of Iraq’s Christians have fled to refugee camps in Syria or Jordan, reducing a prewar population of more than a million to some 400,000, mostly in the relatively tolerant enclave of Iraqi Kurdistan. In October 2010, just a few months after U.S. combat troops left, militants of al Qaida in Iraq laid bloody siege to Our Lady of Deliverance Church in Baghdad during Sunday evening mass, killing 58 people and wounding 78 more. “This tragic event sent a powerful message to Christians in Iraq — they are in grave danger and should leave the country,” said Tiffany Barrans of the American Center for Law and Justice. Christians in Arab Spring countries would soon feel the same way.
Why did the Arab Spring alarm Christians?
Many Arab countries were ruled by secular dictatorships that ruthlessly repressed Islamic extremists and democrats alike. The revolts that began in Tunisia in late 2010 spread to Egypt, Libya, and then Syria. Many Christians declined to support the democratic uprisings, at least at first, because they feared that the fall of a dictator would mean the rise of an Islamist state. Once the dictators fell, Christians were branded anti-revolutionary and suffered a backlash. Islamists won large majorities in most of the post-revolutionary elections, and in some places, notably Egypt, they rewrote the constitution to give Islam a more central role in government and law.
How are Egypt’s Christians treated?
Egypt is home to the Copts, the Middle East’s largest Christian community, with some 8 million adherents. They consider themselves direct descendents of the ancient Egyptians, and still use the Coptic language, a derivative of ancient Egyptian, for religious services. Dictator Hosni Mubarak allied himself with the Coptic pope and protected the community in exchange for its support. Now Copts say the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohammed Mursi is refusing to let them build churches and failing to crack down on a wave of violence against them. Islamic extremists bombed the Two Saints Coptic Church in Alexandria during the 2011 New Year’s mass, killing 23 people and strewing body parts around the church. Later that year, a huge mob of some 3,000 Muslims burned the St. George Church in Edfu and torched nearby Christian homes. When Christians protested outside the Maspero state TV center in Cairo in October 2011, soldiers brutally attacked protesters, killing 27. “Maspero completely traumatized the Coptic community,” said Heba Morayef, the director of Human Rights Watch in Egypt. “Feeling they were not protected by the law has created a climate of fear.” Fear has also taken hold in the war zones of Mali (see below) and Syria.
What is happening in Syria?
From the Journey of the Mind to God by Saint Bonaventure
Mystical wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit
Christ is both the way and the door. Christ is the staircase and the vehicle, like the throne of mercy over the Ark of the Covenant, and the mystery hidden from the ages. A man should turn his full attention to this throne of mercy, and should gaze at him hanging on the cross, full of faith, hope and charity, devoted, full of wonder and joy, marked by gratitude, and open to praise and jubilation. Then such a man will make with Christ a pasch, that is, a passing-over. Through the branches of the cross he will pass over the Red Sea, leaving Egypt and entering the desert. There he will taste the hidden manna, and rest with Christ in the sepulcher, as if he were dead to things outside. He will experience, as much as is possible for one who is still living, what was promised to the thief who hung beside Christ: Today you will be with me in paradise.
For this passover to be perfect, we must suspend all the operations of the mind and we must transform the peak of our affections, directing them to God alone. This is a sacred mystical experience. It cannot be comprehended by anyone unless he surrenders himself to it; nor can he surrender himself to it unless he longs for it; nor can he long for it unless the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sent into the world, should come and inflame his innermost soul. Hence the Apostle says that this mystical wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit.
If you ask how such things can occur, seek the answer in God’s grace, not in doctrine; in the longing of the will, not in the understanding; in the sighs of prayer, not in research; seek the bridegroom not the teacher; God and not man; darkness not daylight; and look not to the light but rather to the raging fire that carries the soul to God with intense fervor and glowing love. The fire is God, and the furnace is in Jerusalem, fired by Christ in the ardor of his loving passion. Only he understood this who said: My soul chose hanging and my bones death. Anyone who cherishes this kind of death can see God, for it is certainly true that: No man can look upon me and live.
Let us die, then, and enter into the darkness, silencing our anxieties, our passions and all the fantasies of our imagination. Let us pass over with the crucified Christ from this world to the Father, so that, when the Father has shown himself to us, we can say with Philip: It is enough. We may hear with Paul: My grace is sufficient for you; and we can rejoice with David, saying: My flesh and my heart fail me, but God is the strength of my heart and my heritage for ever. Blessed be the Lord for ever, and let all the people say: Amen. Amen!
Pope Benedict XVI appeals at the All Saints Day Angelus:
Last evening, in a grave attack on the Syriac-Catholic cathedral of Baghdad, there were scores of deaths and injuries, among them two priests and a group of the faithful there for Sunday’s Holy Mass. I pray for the victims of this absurd violence, even more ferocious in that it has been inflicted upon defenseless people gathered in God’s house, which is a house of love and reconciliation. I express my affectionate closeness to the Christian community, now stricken again, and I encourage its pastors and faithful alike to be strong and firm in hope. Beyond these savage moments of violence, that continue to tear apart the peoples of the Middle East, I would lastly like to renew a heartfelt appeal for peace: it is a gift of God, but it is also the result of the efforts of men of good will, of national and international institutions. May everyone unite their strengths to end every act of violence!
This All Saints Day we not only commemorate those who have gone before us through the centuries, but we are vividly reminded that sainthood through martyrdom is not something of the ancient past. Yesterday more than 40 Syriac Catholics were martyred in Our Lady of Deliverance Cathedral in Bagdad where 120 Catholics had been taken hostage by Muslim extremists demanding release of Muslim women given sanctuary by a Coptic church in Egypt.