Tuesday, March 15, 2011

International Union of Muslim Scholars Statement to Muslims and Copts of Egypt

This (below) is an important statement of support for continued ecumenic support between Muslims and Christians in Egypt. It will eventually be important for Egypt some day to allow Christians who are non-copts to practice more publicly in Egypt. Reports from Egypt for decades have been that the number of Christians is much higher than the official 10 percent of the population. The reason for the undercount–by the outgoing regime–appears to have had to do with threats of crime and vandalism against Christian groups and institutions.–KAS

IUMS Statement to Muslims and Copts of Egypt .
By The International Union for Muslim ScholarsMonday, 14 March 2011 13:29


All praises and thanks are due to Almighty Allah, and peace and blessings be upon our leader and master, Muhammad, the one sent as Mercy to the worlds, and upon all his fellow prophets and messengers, and those who gracefully for them to the Day of Resurrection.

The Interrogational Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS) offers congratulations to the people of Egypt on the triumph of their “January 25th” Revolution and on what it has shown to the world of lessons, in respect of unity, fellow feeling, solidarity, altruism, and tolerance, so much so that a youth would keep awake so that his fellow youth can get some sleep, another youth would toil so that his fellow can take some rest, and a third would receive bullets in his chest so as to protect his fellow.

They have all stood as one man, during the days when “bullies” committed crimes, and “robbers” practiced larceny, and at the time of attacks against them by those mounting camels, horses and mules, which resulted in bloodshed, looting and violation of inviolabilities. During all this, Egyptian Muslims and Christians united together, the Mosque and the Church embraced, and the Sheikh and the priest clasped hands. Then, the Muslims offered their congregational prayers in the (Tahrir) Square and Christians too held their masses there. Besides, Sheikh Al-Qaradawi led the Friday great congregation there, which included Muslims and Copts, saying, “I would not commence my sermon with the conventional opening: ‘O Muslims’. Rather, I would say, ‘O people of Egypt; Muslims and Christians’”.

Such cohesion, attachment, solidarity and tolerance made the citizens of the one homeland stand together during the fierce battle against the corrupt and oppressive regime, like the bricks of a wall, enforcing each other. This faith-inspired positive, moral and constructive spirit that we have witnessed and experiences, and have tasted its blessed fruits, is a spirit that constructs and not destructs, unites and not disunites, brings people close and not splits them up, infuses life and not causes death, spreads the culture of love and not of hatred, tolerance and not bigotry, lenience and not violence, compassion and clemency and not cruelty. Where has such benevolence spirit and kind breezes gone, being substituted for virulence and sterile winds that is embodied in the destruction of a church in Helwan; unfortunately at the hands of some Muslims. I would not like to enquire about the reason of committing such an abominable act, since nothing could justify it. Yet, I would ask: Where are the people of wisdom? Where are the people of faith? Where are the preachers of goodness and benevolence among the citizens of this homeland, Muslims and Copts? How could the fruits of this great and exemplary revolution, which has been unprecedented in the entire history of Egypt, be wasted? How could it be easy for the citizens of Egypt, males and females, youth and old, to nip this revolution in the bud through such foolish behaviors, which unwarrantable, unwedded and ever unaccountable!

Islam has taught us that people’s religious differences are decreed by Allah’s (Exalted be He) Will, and that if He has so willed, he would have made them like angels, all believing in one creed and embracing the same doctrines; “And if your Lord had so willed, He could surely have made mankind one Ummah [nation or community (following one religion only i.e. Islam)], but they will not cease to disagree,- except him on whom your Lord has bestowed His Mercy (the follower of truth – Islamic Monotheism) and for that did He create them.” (Hud: 118 – 119), meaning for that difference did He create them.

Besides, Islam has determined the bases of coexistence between Muslims and non-Muslims, even if they be idolatrous, in light of the following verse in Surat Al-Mumtahinah, in which Almighty Allah (Exalted be He) says, “Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity.” (8).

Islam has also asserted that it view entire humanity as one family belonging to One Lord, in terms of creation, and belonging to one father and one mother, in terms of lineage; as the noble Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “O mankind, remember that your Lord is One, and that your father is one. Indeed, no Arab has a privilege over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab over an Arab, or a white over a black, nor a black over a white person, except through piety”.

Then, the Qur’an assigned specific rulings in relation to the People of the Book, declaring it permissible for the Muslim to share food with them and to marry from among them in the verse that reads, “The food (slaughtered cattle, eatable animals, etc.) of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) is lawful to you and yours is lawful to them. (Lawful to you in marriage) are chaste women from the believers and chaste women from those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) before your time” (Al-Ma’idah: 5). So, Islam has made it lawful for the Muslim man to marry a woman from among the People of the Book, to be his mate, to share with him his life and to be the mother of his children. Moreover, Islam has attributed more peculiarity to Christians or Nazarenes, from among the People of the Book, as it says about them, “and you will find the nearest in love to the believers (Muslims) those who say: ‘We are Christians.’” (Al-Ma’idah: 82)

Prophetic commandments regarding the Copts of Egypt:

As for the Copts of Egypt, they have a special status and distinguished rank, since the Prophet (peace be upon him) advised the Muslims to treat them especially well, in a special guidance that is memorized and embraced by all Muslims. For, it was reported from Mother of the Believers, Umm Salamh (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) advised (the Muslims) upon his death saying, “(Fear) Allah, (fear) Allah, regarding the Copts of Egypt (be good to them), you shall take them over, but they shall be your instrument and supporter in the Way of Allah” (Reported by Al-Tabarani). In another Hadith reported from `Abdullah ibn Yazid and `Amr ibn Urayth, the Prophet (peace be upon him) also said, ” … Take good care of them, since they will lend strength to you and will help you prevail over your enemy by the Will of Allah” (Reported by Abu Ya`la), meaning the Copts of Egypt.

The truth of this prophecy of the Prophet (peace be upon him) has been attested to by historical realities, as the Copts of Egypt welcomed the conquering Muslims and got on well with them, though they (Copts) were ruled by their fellow Christians. Then, the Copts entered Allah’s Religion in crowds, so much so that some Umayyad rulers imposed Jizyah (poll tax required from non-Muslims living in an Islamic state) on those who embraced Islam among them because they had been entering Islam in large numbers. Then, Egypt because the gate for Islam to all Africa, and its people became supporters in the Way of Allah.

Here, it was reported by Muslim from Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “You are going to enter a land where Qirat (money unit) is used. Be extremely good to them as they have with us close ties and kinship”. Another narration reads, “You are going to enter Egypt; a land where Qirat is used. So, when you enter it, be good to its people, for they have with us close ties and kinship” or he said “close ties and marriage relationships”.

In this regard, scholars stated that “kinship” with them is embodied in the fact that Hajar, mother of Isma`il (Ishmael, peace be upon him) belongs to them, while “marriage relationships” involves reference to Mariyah, mother of Ibrahim, son of the Prophet (peace be upon him), who too belonged to the Copts. All these are indications to the rights due on the Muslims towards the Copts even before they (Copts) embraced Islam.

* * *
Representatives of both the Muslims and the Copts should work to contain this issue, and should carry out a national reconciliation that quenches this fire and turns it into ashes.

Indeed, the IUMS deems it forbidden and clearly denounces the foolish and aggressive crime of destroying the church, knowing that churches are respected and protected in Islam and that Muslims are commanded to fight for the protection of it, as the Qur’an states in the first verse revealed on Jihad (striving in the Cause of Allah), “For had it not been that Allah checks one set of people by means of another, monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, wherein the Name of Allah is mentioned much would surely have been pulled down” (Al-Hajj: 40).

I thus deem in such a devilish act vestiges of a conspiracy against the blessed January 25th Revolution, and an attempt to distort its image, believing that it was brewed by tails of the bygone regime, remnants of the falling [NDP] party, and gangs of the dissolved state security apparatus that used to play the card of sectarianism, to stir sedition whenever they wished. And this is proven through many of the documents seized by the revolutionaries and those who attacked [state security headquarters].

Moreover, the IUMS supports all parties that condemned such an act, including Al-Azhar, the Muslim Brotherhood and all other religious groups, as well as writers, journalists and all cultural and political bodies in Egypt. It also endorses the Armed Forces Supreme Council’s vow to rebuild the Church in its current location, in the nearest possible time.

On the other hand, representatives of both the Muslims and the Copts should work to contain this issue, and should carry out a national reconciliation that quenches this fire and turns it into ashes, so that people can retrieve the spirit of the Square and the positive aspects of the revolution.

I also appreciate the initiatives of the revolution youth, with many of them visiting polices stations and shaking hands with police officers, raising the claim “Let bygones be bygones”, and calling everyone to herald a new epoch in which people mutually recommend each other to right, patience and compassion, and souls are purified of grudges; as then we can build a country on the grounds of love, tolerance and devoutness.

Again, the IUMS offers congratulations to the Egyptians on the success of their pioneering revolution, with its triumphs and wondrous achievement, inviting them to carry out more achievements under the newly selected government presided by `Isam Sharaf. Here, the IUMS calls on the people of Egypt to stand by this government and gently and wisely offer counsel to it. It also calls different parties keeping denominational demonstrations to resume their word, to contribute to the building of our homeland, and to observe patience until the government gradually manages to set everything in due position and to give rights to their due owners. They should not respond to those who unduly call for instigation, and they should know that this revolution has its own enemies who had seized this country in their grip for thirty years, ” Who did transgress beyond bounds in the lands (in the disobedience of Allah). And made therein much mischief” (Al-Fajr: 11 – 12). For, such instigators brew conspiracies and concoct intrigues so that Egypt cannot maintain stability or build up efforts in the way for full reform and productivity.

I thus ask Almighty Allah (Exalted be He) to safeguard Egypt against the conspiracies of those plotters, to foil their intrigues and to return their poisoned arrows to their chests. I also invoke Him to help the citizens of Egypt maintain unity in working towards fellow feeling and benevolence, and to guide them to that which is most just and right, so that they cooperate with one another in righteousness and piety, and not in sin and transgression. Moreover, I invoke Allah (Exalted be He) to grant the Armed Forces Supreme Council success in maintaining its role in keeping balance, administering justice and guarding the pledge entrusted to them until Egypt rises again in the desired best manner, leading to that which its citizens desire of wellbeing in worldly and religious affairs, heavenly and earthly blessings, as well as the best in this world and in the Hereafter.

Yusuf Al-Qaradawi

Chairman of the International Union for Muslim Scholars

The International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) is an independent Islamic Union comprising Muslim scholars from all over the world and representing different schools of Islamic thought. It works globally to spread its message all over the world and it represents Muslim minorities living in countries where non-Muslims constitute the majority. IUMS eschews extremism and bigotry and thinks moderately. It is a body for all Muslim scholars and it encourages scholarship, dissemination of knowledge, and works for the revival of the Islamic scholarly heritage. For more details: http://www.iumsonline.net/



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