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We welcome some clarification from Giuseppe Samir Eid, a Christian of Arab origin, on the terminology and current concepts cited in his book on Islam. Islam: Indicates total submission, the will of Allah, to be supreme, (Akbar, without associates) and acceptance of his decrees. Some Islamic schools claim that the God known to Christians, namely the Tri- nity, is not the same God worshiped by Muslims. Sharia: is the totality of the orders ex- tracted from the Sunna t of the Koran and any other laws deduced from these two sources of jurists from the VII to the IX centuries AD and which were crystallized thereafter. Koran: the word of God tran- smitted to the prophet Mohammed. Sunnah: the collection of what Muhammad said, did or accepted, his example of life. Madrassa or madaress: it is the place of teaching of the Koran, generally attached to mosques. This teaching still continues very often ‚to teach a traditional religion which conceives that the western way of life (assimilated to Christianity) is contrary to Islam and therefore proposes an Islamized West. The effect of this teaching on millions of people is intuitive.

The West and Islam: It would be wrong to compare the West, which is a geographic entity, with Islam, which is a religion. It is more appropriate to illustrate the social difference that exists between Western laws and those of an Islamic country where interpersonal relationships are applied according to Sharia law. Islamic Laws Today All Arab states, except Lebanon, have sharia law as the sole source of their legal order. This Islamic religious law conditions the life of the country, the family and the person and therefore penetrates into Islamic countries and Islamic centers, such as in Europe and North America, where Muslim immigrants gather. According to the Koran men are divided into three categories: – Muslims – the people of the book, like the Jews and the Christians – all the others. In some Arab countries, the legal situa- tion of non-Muslims is not equal to that of their fellow Muslims. In fact, the laws that govern personal status (laws that regulate social life between individuals) are diffe- rent when compared to the laws in force in Europe and North America. Most Arab countries apply Sharia law only for rules that affect family, women, religious freedom and inheritance. The exceptions are Saudi Arabia and Sudan, which apply it fully in all civil and criminal fields. Afghanistan and Iran are Muslim countries but are not considered Arab. The most visible point of contrast with Western culture and which makes us

understand the reaction of Muslim immigrants, relates above all to Quranic laws, namely freedom of choice of religion, equality between citizens and the rights of woman. The passive invasion of the poorest The demographic development of the poorest countries is not accompanied by economic growth similar to that of the western population, predominantly Christian, which is richer and older. There is a peaceful invasion, by Muslims, of certain countries which have a very different culture, customs and traditions. The problem is that they have lived in countries that do not separate religion from state govern- ment, and where it is not recognized that religious freedom is a personal choice. Some facts • 80% of the world’s energy reserves are found in Islamic countries (Arabic or not). • The wealth of production in the Arab countries which includes 200 million inha- bitants is equivalent, for example, to a quarter of that of Italy. (World dev. Report 99/2000). By analogy, 15 million Italians produce as much as 200 million Arabs. • In Sudan: there are a a million dead. In Algeria, we can no longer count them. Note that immigration to the West will increase steadily as long as there is no cultural and economic development in countries with poor populations and as long as rich countries have not reached a long term policy to provide these countries with economic aid linked to human resources. Critical points for understanding Muslims in Europe: The relations between Islam and Chri- stianity in the Middle East indicate some critical points relating to the question of cultural and religious minority but they are of great importance for understanding and managing the presence of Muslims in European countries. (Agnelli Foundation) To understand the different reaction and attitude of emigrants in Europe, it suffices to cite the most striking points of contrast, cited above, compared to Western culture, namely: freedom of choice of religion, equality between citizens and women’s rights. Religious freedom Some examples of restrictions on religious freedom for non-Muslims (typical case of Egypt where Christians represent 10-12% of the population): – Religion: being able to freely practice a religion other than the Muslim; proclai- ming Christ can be considered a crime. – Apostasy: to renounce his Muslim re- ligion for another on pain of death. If a Muslim converts to Christianity, he loses all his rights, becomes a legally dead person and faces prison. – Places of worship: being able to build or even repair a collapsed wall. Expli- cit permission from the President of the Republic is required. – Marriage: It is forbidden ‚a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim – Family: being able to educate children in the religion of the Christian mother. Children of mixed marriages are automatically Muslim; in the event of separation, the children are automatically handed over ‚the Muslim part, ie to the father. – The freedom to interpret sharia is for- bidden and is considered as apostasy

(case of Hesba on trial in Egypt) with all its consequences. – Inheritance: a Christian cannot inherit from a Muslim. The Christian woman cannot inherit from her husband who is dead. Social and political pressure: Social pressures, restrictions and discrimination, result in thousands of Christians, the weakest, being carried ‚to convert‚ Islam without possibility of return. Fates are organized on these occasions, television with a lot of propaganda. Some examples of these situations: – Christians are forbidden from teaching the Arabic language and literature, be- cause it is considered a divine language. – Gynecology is prohibited for Christians, because they risk touching Muslim wo- men with unclean hands. – Difficulty accessing public service posts (in Egypt, out of 300 central govern- ment directorates and 400 public gene- ral directorates, only 15 are Christian) – Television: Christians do not have ac- cess to television, while prayers and Islamic propaganda are transmitted by all channels, day length, at the highest volume, often against Christians, with a polemical tone mocking their beliefs religious.(until 2017 Pope Francesco visiting Egypt) – The idea of tolerance in Islam was originally very similar to that of Christians of the same period. Islam has not undergone any development in this area and the idea of religious tolerance within the Muslim order is very firm and has not changed for ten centuries. Goethe wro- te: “It is humiliating to be tolerated”. The woman: difference between the man and the woman: The civil rights of the woman are diminished compared to the man, in certain cases, here ‚some examples: – Inheritance: the women can inherit but‚ reason for the half share of a man. – Repudiation: A woman may be repudiated without notice – Polygamy: up to four women are admitted without the need to obtain the consent of the other wives. – Choice of spouse: it is forbidden ‚a Muslim to marry a non-Muslim – The woman’s freedom of movement (permission to travel, passport, etc.) – Testimony: testimony in court is worth half that of ‘a man – Restrictions of certain professions to women: since recently, they cannot be judges because they do not have the ri- ght to judge a man. How to help Christians in Muslim countries – To encourage Muslims who fight against extremism and for equality between ci- tizens – To help financially the institutions, Chri- stian or not, which promote human va- lues, their horse battle. – Encourage exchanges of students and teachers – Ask for reciprocity of each time; make economic aid conditional on the elimination of legal discrimination. – Discover Arab and Eastern Christianity, through tourism and cultural exchanges. – Unity in the action of all Christians of the church in the common faith of Christ: even on the cross, the body of Christ has not been dismembered. Christian unity must be restored.

Can Muslims live in European society? To get an answer, you must ask the Imam, (those who guide prayers at the Mosque), especially those who come from Arab countries, to clearly demonstrate the willingness to integrate into the society with which they live, because otherwise they create a very dangerous ambiguity. A constructive dialogue must be developed on this point so that people become aware of the problem posed by Muslim immigration. This dialogue should look at the possibility of integrating Islam into the society of Western countries. This society, which is very diverse in its mentality, its customs and its values, offers the possibility of a ci- vil and serene conviviality between Chri- stians and Muslims. Behind Muslim immigration, there are often Islamic states that could use it for their own political and religious interests. The Muslim brothers: Are very present in the Madaress and aim to establish a state based on the prin- ciples of the Koran and Sharia. In Europe, they are trying to gain recognition for a le- gal status, on a denominational basis and which will apply to an Islamic community which is closest to Sharia law. The anti-Western mentality is widespread among Muslims, and continues to be cultivated by pointing the United States as responsible (the West refers to the Christian world) for the great economic and technological difference but especially for the aid to the state of Israel. Inter-religious dialogue What is the position of the dialogue pro- posed by Pope John Paul II? According to the opinion of a Caritas official, an Arab Jesuit on the front line in inter-religious dialogue in Islamic countries, we should start with social action and witness, because the promotion of human values is the only basis for creating a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society. Radiate the love of Christ through the witness of life, solidarity and hospitality. In this kind of program, women will have to assume a role of great importance in human training. A line of action which aims to make think as much the Moslems as the Christians, in order to establish a common ethical base and to change the mutual prejudices. The challenge for church and Islam will be mainly cultural. Which made an Immam from France say that I prefer to be a Muslim in Europe than in a Muslim country, because my religion here is not the object of political manipulation or social pressure. We must work for Muslims to succeed ‚clarify and grasp the meaning and value of the distinction between religion and so- ciety, faith and civilization, political Islam and Muslim faith and to demonstrate that it is possible to live with the demands of a personal and community religious life. A society where religious pluralism is re- spected and where a climate of mutual respect, hospitality and dialogue prevails. I think that the Christians of Europe, who enjoy religious freedom, could have a positive influence on the Muslims of the second generation, to make them aware of the discrimination in the Arab countries against Christians. Knowing this freedom is an opportunity for Muslims to discover the spiritual aspects of their religion far from any other influence. Christians should profess true Christianity to Muslims who only know it through the Qur’an and what the Muslim centers say about it. What Islam is “Evil will be replaced by a greater good. Repel evil with a greater good and who

was your enemy will become your intimate friend” ‹(translation of verse soura 41 v.34 of the Koran) “Christians are the most cordial friends of believers and the closest neighbors to Muslims” There is no doubt that Islam is a way of spiritualizing man as each of us can see especially after having frequented Muslims. For us Christians, Islam has its greatness which deserves to be recognized for itself and without comparing it to our Christianity, we must admit, contains critical points that we have not yet overcome. To know Islam and to make known the Gospel: In the West people know little about Islam, the few television transmissions give a rather folkloric vision or an image of a religion based on terrorism. To fill this gap, the Diocese of Milan has approved the publication of a book for Christian schools: Islam, storia, fede, cultura. It is through mutual knowledge and personal testimony that the fate of the meeting between the two shores of the Mediter- ranean is played out. Christians, Muslims and Jews will explore the new frontiers of dialogue for a brotherhood in the 21st century. However we must realize that Muslims receive in schools in Arab coun- tries and even in their centers in the West, a distorted teaching on Christianity, and keep a negative and false vision of it. Our hope is that a veil of truth will eventually be opened on these aspects and that the moment will be propitious for an Islamic authority to practice teaching on Christianity in accordance with Christian doctrine. It is therefore the duty of every Christian not to hide in false modesty, but rather to openly profess his faith towards Mu- slims. Having never had the opportunity to discover our religion except through distorted teaching, Muslims will finally be able to appreciate the fair value of religious freedom in the West and realize the discrimination existing in Arab countries against Christian citizens. Our hope is that a veil of truth will eventually be opened on these aspects and that the moment will be propitious for an Islamic authority to practice teaching on Christianity in accordance with Christian doctrine. It is therefore the duty of every Christian not to hide in false modesty, but rather to openly profess his faith towards Muslims. Having never had the opportunity to discover our religion except through distorted teaching, Muslims will finally be able to appreciate the fair value of reli- gious freedom in the West and realize the discrimination existing in Arab countries against Christian citizens. It is to hope that the generation of Mu- slims who immigrated to the West can become the lever, which will change the unfair laws existing in Islamic countries, to improve the situation of women and reli- gious freedom. A dream! Beyond misunderstanding and prejudice, each believer is called to cultivate an es- sential value of the other, to venture on the path of mutual respect and that dif- ference is ultimately transformed into an instrument of mutual enrichment. 2019 February The meeting at Abu Dhabi between Grand imam of Al Azhar and Pope Francesco signing the document “human brotherhood for world peace and common coexistence” is a milestone for a change of direction. The hope is that the change of attitude will take place to the deepest peripheries on both sides.





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