A Miracle in Egypt

March 5, 2015

Samir_Khalil_SamirA miracle has occurred in Egypt, a blessing bestowed by God through the fruits of the martyrs of the Coptic Church. Samir Khalil Samir has written about it in AsiaNews.it, but he doesn’t call it a miracle. Those of us who see with the eyes of faith, though, recognize an outpouring of grace that should inspire all of us to more fervent prayer for the conversion of Muslims. I’ll come back to that politically incorrect phrase hated by the false ecumenists later.

Samir wrote this:

What Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Cairo’s al-Azhar University, said at a conference in Makkah three days ago is one of the most important things that could have happened in the Muslim world. In his speeches, he spoke of the urgent need to revisit the teaching of Islam in schools and universities, and correct extremist interpretations of the Qur’an and the Sunnah

What Sheikh Tayeb now seems to have realized is that the matter must be addressed globally, in schools and university, among lay people as well as clerics. Work must be undertaken at all levels, throughout the Muslim world, wherever minds are educated, especially those of clerics who every Friday preach in the mosque, whose sermons are broadcast on radio and television, with much media influence.

This is the first part of the miracle. Al-Azhar University is the leading Muslim university and the top Muslim is calling for a re-examination of the teachings of Islam, a position tantamount to heresy for the ISIS crowd and deserving of assassination of the proponent by Islamic law, but one destined to light a path out of the insane darkness the extremists are imposing everywhere if enough Muslims respond positively.

Another important point Tayeb highlighted is a cause for division within Islam, namely “the bad interpretation of the Qur’an and the Sunnah”. Just to acknowledge this is a tremendous leap forward, an important act of self-criticism.

For the Christian, examination of conscience and self-reflection with repentance and a firm purpose of amendment of life is the first step towards conversion of heart. If Muslims begin to examine their religion seriously using the faculty of reason some genuine openness to objective truth may be a first step towards conversion of heart and an end to violence and war based on the Qur’an.

However, by virtue of our fallen human nature, we find this:

Regrettably, a few days before the conference, the grand imam himself had condemned the “barbaric practices” of the Islamic state, by calling for their “killing, crucifixion and chopping of the limbs” in accordance with the Qur’an. In doing so, he too took the Qur’an literally! Sadly, this ambiguity is present in the Muslim world. When, it suits them, people will quote literally the Qur’an; when it does not and they are criticized, they can always say that the Qur’an needs to be interpreted!

Nevertheless, that these ideas are even being floated cannot be chalked up merely to political motives nor to taqqiya. God is at work and we must redouble our prayers.

Samir ends this part of the article with this comment:

I do believe that what Tayeb said in Makkah is critical. If what he stressed about the Qur’an, namely its theological interpretative aspect, spreads across Islamic world, that would be a revolution.

The second part of the miracle involves what is nothing short of amazing, dumbfounding, and inspired.

Recently, something revolutionary happened: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered air strikes against the Islamic State in Libya. It is revolutionary because he gave the order after the killing of 21 Egyptian Christians. In the ongoing wars across the Muslim world, thousands of Muslims have died, but Sisi ordered the attack in retaliation for the killing of 21 Coptic Christians, acknowledging them as full citizens of Egypt.

President Sisi said that the Egypt had no interest in attacking or invading other nations but that it would defend itself and its citizens. The Egyptian leader suggested that Arab countries might want to fight the Caliphate together.

The Egyptian president also attended the funeral services for the decapitated Christians in Cairo’s Coptic Cathedral and decided to compensate the families who lost a husband or a father.

One could make all sorts of political observations on this subject, but here we have a Muslim president of one of the more advanced nations in the Middle East and North Africa openly claiming Christians as his people and standing for their rights. It is when leaders recognize people as having intrinsic value as human beings and take their obligations to their citizens seriously that we have hope that something right and just will come of it. If all power comes from God as Jesus told Pilate, then so does the grace to use that power to bring people together. Although Muslims in Egypt are killing Copts and destroying their churches on a regular basis, now their president has stood up in opposition to them and by his example is showing how he wants his people to treat one another.

I believe that these two things coming out of Egypt are a sign that God is hearing our prayers for the conversion of Muslims although many years may pass before we see major improvement in their behavior toward one another and toward Jews and Christians. We should not give up hope but redouble our prayers instead.

Immediately after 9/11 I called for mass praying for the conversion of Muslims in an online Catholic group I participate in. My request never saw the light of day. It was censored by the moderators. Yet Jesus instructed us in Matthew 5:44 to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” The greatest good we can do, and in the interests of world peace, is to pray for the conversion of sinners. Most particularly now, we should pray that Muslims abandon what is counter to God’s law in their religion and come to the place where their eyes will be opened to the light and truth of Christ. Each of us has a part in this on our knees in front of the Lord. Failure to desire their conversion to Christ and actively work towards it by prayer could result in our hearing Jesus say to us in Matthew 25:12, “Amen I say to you, I know you not,” or in Matthew 7: 23, “I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.” Surely the one of the greatest iniquities we can perpetrate is that of not fervently praying for the salvation of our enemy. It is tantamount to wishing him in hell.

Image: Samir, S.J., Attribution: “Steenwerck – Forum « Jésus le Messie » 2014 – Père Samir Khalil Samir – 3” by Peter Potrowl – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Samir Khalil Samir (born 10 January 1938 in Cairo, Egypt), is an Egyptian Jesuit priest, Islamic scholar, Semitologist, Orientalist, Syriacist and Catholic theologian. Based in Lebanon (Université Saint Joseph) he is a regular visiting professor of several academic institutions in Europe and the USA.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

(Click on the link above to read why I end my posts this way.)

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Thursday, March 5th, 2015 conversion, religion

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