Dear Egyptian Muslims, wish all Christians of Egypt a Merry Christmas
By Omar Bihmidine
The bombing of St Peter’s Church in Cairo, among many other acts of cruelty, is a clear sign that Egyptian Muslims have not yet stopped to prevent any kinds of conflicts with the Christian minority. Do we always need others to remind Muslims of how the prophet treated, not only Christians but also atheists, non-Muslims and Jews? Every Egyptian Muslim is responsible for what is happening. How come when many are even against bombing Chrisians? At least by sharing the values of tolerance and coexistence that our religion stresses and teaches. By acting, not sympathising.
The cross Chrisians carry on their chest should never scare Muslims or induce them into evincing feelings of hatred and denial. So, what’s the use of our religion if not to make peace and live in harmony with those who are different from us and love them as they are. Think of how our prophet treated his attackers and insulters? He forgave them. But these Christians aren’t doing Muslims any harm. And in case a Chrisian does, retaliation is never the answer. The prophet taught forgiveness and love, bot revenge and resentment. I am afraid Egyptian Muslims are doing harm, not to Chrisianity, but to Islam. It is not enough to condemn the cruel and savage treatment. We rather do justice to Islam by inviting Chrisians and treating them like our brothers and sisters. Rarely do we hear of such stories in Egypt, do you?
The bombing coincided with the day when Muslims celebrate the birth of the prophet, which is unfortunately a blow to the image of our Islam, whether we like to admit it or not. How is the world going to believe that Egyptian Muslims celebrate tolerance, love, respect, coexistence and human rights when the mistakes of a few Muslims in the country stain our reputation. But this is deeper than what we think. Instead of proving the world wrong and building a culture of peace and freedom, other Egyptian Muslims have not yet acted on this to make Christians neighbours their best friends and give them the impression that there is no difference between a Muslim and a Chrisian. They are all equal when it comes to the law. If condemning had worked, bloodshed would have ended long ago. It is high time Egyptians worked and acted against this terrorism.
The onus must equally fall on the Egyptian government for failing to treat Chrisian lives well and save them from any kind of persecution. There are a number of ways Egyptian Muslims, along with their government, can prove that that they are going to change for the better. It starts with simple acts until the people of Egypt develop the trait of accepting others regardless of their religion, race, colour and origin. One of the simplest and timely ways is to wish their Chrisian neighbours and friends a Merry Christmas. What crime is wishing others a Merry Christmas just as other Chrisians wish us a happy Ramadan? Saudi Arabia must be asked this question since it is among the Muslim countries that bans this act of wishing.
It is true many Egyptian Muslims are against what befalls Christians now and then, but this will never suffice for the simple reason that it is the motive that must be uprooted and not that the consequence that must be condemned. Why not, for instance, teach at school about the importance of tolerance? Why not remind Muslims in general and hardliners in particular of how peaceful, tolerant, forgiving and understanding our prophet was? We should not simply dismiss ill-treating Christians as a mistake of a few Egyptian Muslims. Until when should we hear the same old story and the same old and flimsy excuse? Spreading a culture of acceptance and diversity is one of the stepping stones to ending bloodshed, not uttering the same excuse.
Now, let us think about how many times our sheikhs and clerics, people who are supposed to represent Islam, defend Chrisians and call for, not only protecting this minority, but also for considering them as citizens of Egypt like their Muslim counterparts. Not much, actually. So, how do we want to do justice to Islam which stresses that there is no compulsion in Islam and that other religions are to be respected. Why do clerics instead spread the idea that the number of Christians is growing rapidly and then wonder why some Egyptian Muslims are holding hatred sentiments against this minority? Egyptian preachers must check their facts. They might be nourishing the cause and cursing the effect.
Let us all turn our back on the massacres of the past, not in orders to escape from a fair trial, but in order to prove on the ground that the Muslims of Egypt, including the Egyptian government, are serious this time. Here is a timely and golden, albeit simple, opportunity for the people of Egypt to show Chrisians how much they care. Dear Egyptian Muslims, wish Christians a Merry Christmas and why not even celebrate the festivities with them. I know a large number of Muslims, not only in Egypt but also in many Muslim countries, still hesitate and fear to do this simple, festive act. I am sure it works miracles.
Tags: Lifestyle Blog