السبت، يونيو 03، 2006

An Open Letter to a Well Meaning Friend

Greetings my friend, I hope you are well. You know who you are, but I won’t disclose your identity because you elected to have the discussion with me via email and not on the blog. The reason I chose to answer your latest email on here is that I’d like to share my views on this with my other friends and guests. It is my hope that you will read on and hear me out.

Over the past few weeks we discussed a few things…or rather you accused and I tried to explain. Let me start by saying I harbor absolutely no resentment towards you. I only pity your unwillingness to actually listen…especially when you are ignoring answers to your own questions.

However I also thank you deeply! Every word you have said to me has been a blessing…every word has motivated me to seek out the voice of God…and all the time He reassured me...and all the time my faith grew stronger in Him. So you could say you helped me add layer upon layer onto my beautiful pearl!

Your latest email to me contained two links to audio lectures by an Islamic “da3ya” or one who preaches Islam to non-Muslims. I will not post the links here basically because I don’t know if I’m allowed to…which is a shame because he is a very funny man. Both lectures make claims about His Holiness Pope Shenouda the Third [which is his real title and name by the way and not Pope Shushu like the good sheikh called him :)], the Coptic Pope. Apparently HH Pope Shenouda denies the divinity of our Lord and Saviour and admits the fabrication of the Bible!! (note to others reading the open letter: didn’t I tell ya he was a funny man)

My response to this is very simple my well-meaning friend.

First you need to understand that HH the pope is nothing less than an intellectual and spiritual giant! He is a well educated, well read, well versed man who wrote so many books on the Christian faith, not to mention he owns an extensive Islamic library. As a Coptic people we hold more love and respect for him than you can imagine.

BUT!!!!

Even if…and that’s a BIG HUGE IF…if we assume that he indeed meant what this Islamic scholar claims he meant…which is something with the probability of say…0.0001 in a 1000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
You know, kinda like the hell freezing over probability…

Anyway, lets for the purpose of this exercise assume he indeed meant those things:

1) Although we pray that God grant him good health and a long life…he is only a human being and will ultimately die. Do you expect me to abandon the one true living God and follow the words of a man who will one day die?
For the Book teaches us that ينبغي ان يطاع الله اكثر من الناس
"We must obey God rather than men!” Acts 5:29

2) Again I pray that HH lives a long and healthy life and continue to guard the flock…but you (and the Islamic scholar) forget that the Christian faith has been standing tall and proud two thousand years before Pope Shenouda…and the faith will continue and grow for thousands more after him.

3) We don’t believe in Christ as God and Saviour just to please the Pope…or just because he said so…or just because the Pope believes
It follows that if the Pope himself was to reject Christ (here’s that hell freezing over thing again)…our faith remains intact and well.
(just think: would you reject islam if Sheikh el Azhar was baptised?)


The Christian faith does not start and end with Pope Shenouda or Pope Benedict
Our faith doesn’t reside in St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican or St Mark’s Cathedral in Abbassya
Nor is it bound to the Anglican Bishops, or the Protestant Pastors…

Our faith lives because of the blood of martyrs who preferred death to life without Christ

Our faith lives because of the courage of many like St Athanasious and St Augustine

Our faith is ALIVE…because it lives in beating hearts that never cease to believe in Him: The One True Living God.

You will note that I haven’t even attempted to defend or explain what the Pope says and what the Islamic scholar “interpreted”. It’s because it is simply not necessary!! His Holiness Pope Shenouda is greater than any explanation I can offer.

The only thing I will say is that I don’t blame the Islamic scholar for “misinterpreting” the Pope’s words. After all, he (the aforementioned scholar) quiet likely does not possess adequate intellect, aside from an apparent strong desire to mar a great man and a great faith (feelings of inadequacy perhaps?)

I say this not because I categorically disagree with the man…but it is quiet evident from his speech, the dodgy recording of HH that he plays and stops several times thus interrupting continuity and his loud forceful voice, which he wouldn’t really need if he had any logic, rhyme or reason to his argument. Having said that, I appreciated the entertainment all the same!

My dear friend, if you are still reading this letter: I repeat that I respect your zeal for your religion. Although of late I am starting to see this zeal as borderline fanaticism: you have been condescending and totally oblivious to my request that you respect my choice to be Christian…and a proud one at that! In fact I don’t even know if you actually read anything I write to you because you never address any of it.

I appreciate your feeling that your own faith is right and all else is wrong. But rest assured my own choice has been an educated one. And I mean really educated: I studied Islam like I studied Christianity.

I sincerely hope that you stayed on to read till the end. I also hope that you understand what I am trying to say…thank you for trying to show me the “truth”…but I have already found it!!

I pray for you that God may give you peace and salvation.

19 Comments:

Blogger Egypeter said...

Excellent!

Bent, you are a TRUE Christian warrior!! I am always so proud of your articulate, PATIENT and Christian-based answers to our Muslim "friends" who come here trying to convert you. I have a pretty good idea how his email went...it's the same stuff over and over again.

As far as that piece of garbage who is spitting out INTOLERANCE, HATRED and LIES about our religion...it's tough to stomach. Are Muslims in Egypt not allowed to learn the TRUTH about Christianity?? Are they only allowed to be TOLD the truth as interperted by their moronic SHEIKHS who lie lie lie? If that's the case then they will always be stuck in their ignorance about Christianity.

"[which is his real title and name by the way and not Pope Shushu like the good sheikh called him :)]"

What a punch in the stomach!! What an ASSHOLE this Sheikh is!! I'm sorry. To say that about the 117th successor of St. Mark the Evangelist is a grave sin. His Hollines Pope Shenouda is a saint who cares so so deeply about his flock and his Mother Egypt! God forgive that man. Insult our Pope?? Come on!

I have one question for our Muslim friend, just one question.

Why do Muslim sermons in Egypt, and hell, all over the world, focus on trying to destroy other religions? Is that all that is said during your Friday Sermons?? What is it? SEVERE insecurity? Why? What are you so afraid of? Think about all those minds that are being indoctrinated to hate by the garbage that is said.

In my 31 years of attending sermons at church I have never heard a Coptic Priest, Bishop or POPE, for that matter, say ONE NEGATIVE WORD ABOUT ISLAM!!!!!

Do you see the difference in the message Muslim friend? Do you see a difference in the teachings??? UUGGGGGHHHHH

God bless you Bent! And I hope our Muslim friend does find peace and salvation.

يونيو 03, 2006  
Blogger xavier said...

Egypter:
Yup. Totally agree Bent did a nice job. Let me add that St Augustine said that if the Church didn't say something was true he wouldn't believe it. To reiterate: people don't die for a lie not for 1 day not for 2 millenia.
I bet it gets tiring to hear the same dawa repeated ad naseaum. Especially when it's laced with utter contempt.

To answer your question. No Moslem can't learn the truth. First it,s a waste of time because they believe Islam is the last true revelation. Second, Omar's pact prohibits Christians (and Jews) from prolestizing or even defending their faith. So Moslems take their silence as admission of that we faked the bible. So when Moslems face Christians who vigoursly defend their faith without fear of reprisal, the Moslems freak out because nothing in their intellectual tradition prepares them to defend their faith without threats.

To return to that sheik. It's very hard to respect the man or listen to his advocacy when he can't even display the basic courtesy to call his opponent by name. As if patronizing Shenouda signifies that the Copts should be so grateful that the great shiek mentioned the Pope's nickname or whatever. C'mon!

يونيو 03, 2006  
Anonymous Red said...

Bent (and egypeter) said (I guess to Muslim) "I pray for you that God may give you peace and salvation" an almost totally foreign and incomprehensible concept to the majority of Muslims, and like lots of other concepts, any attempt to discuss matters religious get snowed under by the lack of common grounds, be it natural or concocted, and hence the failure time and again to have a meaningful "dialogue". Whereas Christians seek Peace and Salvation, Muslims believe they'd already achieved it just by being Muslim !!, Christians believe the Lord Jesus is the way, Muslims believe "Islam is the solution"!!. I believe one should always consider walking away from such discussions that have the likes of that "idiot" sheik, and there are PLENTY of him, clean our shoes of any dirt on these shoes from their places and leave them to their own bleak destiny !!

يونيو 03, 2006  
Blogger CMinor said...

Bent:
AMEN! as the little old ladies used to yell during the good parts of the sermon.

Your Muslim friends seem to have either taken a liking to you--and therefore decided to save you from eternal damnation--or decided you are a "high-value target" for evangelization! I am glad (though not surprised) that their efforts have only strengthened your resolve.

While the Truth of the Gospel and the blood of the martyrs should be sustenance enough, I imagine how my inner belligerent might react to this onslaught:

"Lessee, for 1500 years or so you've dehumanized and oppressed me and mine and now here you are telling me that YOU have the true Way and I'm to drop everything I've ever held to be true and come along like a good girl??

Though it often gets me into trouble, perhaps even the inner belligerent can be a grace.

يونيو 03, 2006  
Blogger Bent El Neel said...

Pete
Welcome back Pete, I've missed your comments lately :)
you are a TRUE Christian warrior
heheheheh now that's a new one! I've never been called a warrior before...but as long as our battles bring life to others rather than take it away, then bring it on :)

The insult to His Holiness is a result of ignorance and hatred. But remember Pete that God teaches us:"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Matthew 5:11

So what that sheikh or scholar or imam doesn't realise is that he is actually bringing a blesing to His Holiness!!

Xavier
and Red
Welcome guys and thanx for the contribution.

You both make a point about theese discussions being in a way pointless. I agree, and for a while I thought I'd ignore the emails and just pray for the "Well-Meaning-Friend" and the imam guy and be done with it.

But you know what, I couldn't help but think of what the Lord said about showing His light to the world.

If we all walked away from these discussions, how are people supposed to know what His grace can do to their lives.

Please note I have never taken the aggressive position...I never started it so to speak. But when it lands at my door...perhaps there is a reason for it all. I believe God does everything for a reason, and perhaps these discussions are His way of strengthening my own faith. Perhaps someone else could read this and get the benefit of an alternative point of view...if that's all I get out of this, then I am happy!

Having said that, I agree that there comes a cretain point in the discussion when I would have to say "thanks for the opportunity to enrich my knowledge...God bless you..I'm outa here"...and I would indeed clean the dust off my shoes and move on :)

By the way Red it isn't Muslim I am addressing in this post.

Last and certainly NOT least, my dear CMinor

I know Cminor...it seems I have attracted a lot of attention from my Muslim friends here in Blog-World, lol. It's very flattering, but I wish I wouldn't get so misunderstood all the time. I never intended to get into these sorts of discussions...but somehow raising issues of persecution of the Copts ends in a "my-religion-is-betta-than-yours" discussion!

God Bless You All :), Please remember me in your prayers!

يونيو 03, 2006  
Blogger Bent El Neel said...

Hey Pete
By the way, there is an enquiry on this blog somewhere about the Ghazooli book you mentioned once. Can you give us any details on the book. How do you spell this guy name anyway? I googled Ghazooli and couldn't find anything!!

Let me know please. My email is nefert_80@yahoo.com.au if u wanna email me the details, oterwise just post it here if you like.

Thanx a million mate:)

يونيو 03, 2006  
Blogger VIVA said...

An Excellent article Bent El Neel :)

I really enjoyed reading your site.

God bless You :)

يونيو 04, 2006  
Blogger Egypeter said...

Hey there sweet Bent.

Just want you to know that while I may not post all the time I am definitely on top of your blog! The reason I don't always post is because I sometimes want to put my arms around the necks of thses people and am too pissed off to respond...and I know it's futile. Plus, you put what's in my head in a much nicer and calmer way than I ever could...lol. I, my dear friend, am a bit of a hot head :) lol

As far as that book, let me go upstairs and see if I can find it, hold on a sec..."Christ, Mohammad, and I" By Mohammad Al-Ghazouly. I think I misspelled it earlier, sorry. Not sure if you can find it on the internet or not, let me know.

This man's knowledge on Islam and the Quran is UNBELIVABLE! There is nobody that has more knowledge on the history of Islam and the life of Mohammd. He has Mohammad's story from the day he was born till the day he died and chronicles every single deed that man commited during his life and only cites Islamic sources. He talks about how he now looks at those same deeds of Mohammad in a totally different light and questions how he ever viewed it otherwise. It's amazing. He decided to keep his original name so that he can minister to his fellow Muslims who, of course, he still loves dearly. They, of course, repaid that love with putting the standard issue death fatwa over his neck. Those are my favorites. Anyway, he lost his work, wife, kids, etc. etc...You know how it goes. You've gotta find his book. Anyway, he held a really high post with Al Azhar or the government in some sort of Islamic Scholarly role. He also, get this, was an adviser to that loon-bag Ghadaffi over in Libya back in the 80's He knew everyting about the Religion of Peace and then seeds of doubt began to blossom and flower in him. Then one day, at the bottom of his despair, a Christian gave him the Holy Bible to read. He told that person that he had already read the Holy Bible many times and found nothing in it. After a little coaxing, he decided to read it one more time This time he opened his heart and took it all in...well, needless to say, it was all over. Jesus knocked on the door of his heart and this time he let Him in. God worked a miracle with him. It's truly a profound story.

So check this out, this man lives in Chicago and I found out that he was getting baptized at St. Mary's Church about a half hour away from mine. After reading his book, I was ecstatic to find out he lived here and that there was no way I was going to miss his baptism. My mother and I went and attended the service and met him. What an awesome experience. He gave a nice little lecture afterwards and you should've seen the congregation's face light up. I couldn't stop hugging and kissing the man :) It was awesome.

Ok, hope that helps. Let me know if you do find the book. Hell, if not, I'll ship it to...Cash On Delivery of course. lol :) It's not like Australia is in my backyard! :)

Take care Bent. God bless you.

يونيو 04, 2006  
Blogger The Eyewitness said...

I've written the longest comment I've ever written 2 days ago here and I lost it. And I'm here again to rewrite it as best as I can.
First I was directing the comment for Neferteeti and her Muslim friend (sorry I don't know your, as I hate defining people by their religion or anything like that)
I'll share you my personal thoughts and experiences, hope it may be of help for anyone.
I'll write my comment in points:
1- From my point of view the age of preeching had come to an end decades and centuries ago. Especially the kind of preaching based on attacking others, and herin I don't mean the audio speeches Neferteetin was talking about, I mean all kind of people whether Christians or Muslims who build their preaching on attacking others. Even preaching by telling about how great we are, had also come to an end. We are in a world in need of people to give examples for their own faith and beleif. The world is in need for live testemonies and not new words that just go in vain. There had been millions of ideologies and believes in the history of humanity and a lot of them are based on marvileous theological and phylosophical concepts, but had any of them yielded real fruits. If you wanna preach for your faith, give good and real example for it.
2- If you would like to know about other religions, go read its source. Read the whole source, if you are Christian and you wanna know about Islam, read the Quraan. If you Muslim and need to know about Christianity, read the Bible. Read all of it so you can get to know the spirit of this religion.
3- If any one is really intreseted to get to know the truth god wanted to him to live in. Build your own personal relationship with god, talk with him, and try to hear him, he will talk to your heart, God created us and he knows how to talk to us, if we wanna hear him. Even those who don't beieve in his existence are invited to talk with him and he is welocming it, they can still hear him even if they say that they don't believe in him.
God be with you all.

يونيو 04, 2006  
Blogger Bent El Neel said...

EW
Welcome and thank you so much for your comment.

You are saying pretty much what I have tried to convey to many guests on this blog since I started blogging.
***********************
For example:
In this post:
We live in an age where information about just everything is just a click of a mouse away. If I wanted to learn a language, get an obscure recipe, chat to a guy from Iceland, learn about Buddhism, see Alaska I could do so right here from my own comfortable home.What's more important than showing someone the error of THEIR ways, is showing them the goodness of yours
*******************
and this post
It doesn't, nor should it matter, what we believe in. What matters is that we should be able to accept each other, respect each other and live together in one world without conflict.
******************
And in my series of Dear MOhammed posts, the aim is set out clearly as:
I want to clarify to you that the aim of this is not to convince you of my point of view, rather it is to present you with the truth as I personally see it.
--
That's all! He posed some questions to me...I'm answering them.

*****************
Basically I am a strong believer that what we need to do is to stop claiming that others merely believe in a faith because they are ignorant of the "truth". In my first email to this "well-meaning-friend" I concluded my email by saig: the truth is a relevant thing.

That is not to detract from my firm belief in my faith...but to acknowledge that he feels the same way about his.

Sorry to go on, but I just felt that you are saying exactly what I try to say. If I respond to many of the statements/accusations/attempts to "show me the truth"...then it's for the reasons cited in my response to Xavier and Red above...not with the intent to convert anyone else at all!

Thanks again EW, God Bless You.

يونيو 04, 2006  
Blogger Bent El Neel said...

Pete
Thanks matey :)
I'll pass on the info to the person interested.

It's good to know you;re always around, and great to hear from you every now and then too, :)

Take care dear Pete

يونيو 04, 2006  
Blogger Bent El Neel said...

Viva
It's great to see you here and thanks for the kind comment :)

God Bless You+++

يونيو 04, 2006  
Anonymous muslim said...

Hi Bent,
I has been long time since I last visited your blog, I really miss you :)

I haven't read your reply on my last comment until now! And I am sorry for the misunderstanding that happened. Of course, I wasn't trying to tell you what to do .. but I was expressing my point of view about "freedom of belief." I hope you got the point.

Well, I am always expecting someone talking about the "freedom of speech" to be completely unbiased. And I think you agree with me, don't you?

I was sure of the result of my comment, which is .. nothing, of course! Because the "unbiased believer" is another unicorn :) This is a fact of life.

Any way, let's forget the battles of the past:) I want to give you an on-the-fly comment about one of your previous posts. Sure I couldn't catch up with your blog; it has been really active since then.

In one of your posts, you refered to some article that stated the following "fact":
"As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews, the people of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christians, the infidels of the communion of Jesus."

Do you really know what you are talking about?!!!

First of all, we don't believe that Jews and Christians are Apes and Swine! If a Muslim has said that then it is his own belief, and we are not obligated to obey him. Actually, we are obligated to obey any one but the God himself, since we don't have a religious authority, as you already know.

The question here is:
Again, why do you criticise a Muslim for this, while, on the other hand, you believe that Jesus used to call the Jews as "the sons of vipers"?

Again, if you want to criticise others, then be ready to criticise yourself first.

Thank you :)

يونيو 04, 2006  
Anonymous muslim said...

A correction for a typing mistake:
we are not obligated to obey any one but the God himself.

And any way, I think you agree with me in this.

يونيو 04, 2006  
Blogger Bent El Neel said...

muslim
Welcome back. It's good to hear from youagain:)
Hope your exams went well.

Now, the apes and swine:
I don't know who Ibn Abbas is!! I refered to a report published by Saudi expats about Saudi textbooks. I wasn't accusing Islam or Muslims of anything...I accused Saudi textbooks of being hateful and racist.

Perhaps it's the fact that you haven't had enough time to catch up on every post and comment I wrote. Perhaps you shouldn't have been too hasty in your judgement:

Here's a reminder:
I simply am not interested in insulting anyone’s faith. I hope people see the post for what it is: criticism of indoctrinating children with such hateful jargon.
If there is an attack on Islam here, then it was committed by those who choose to fill the minds of the young and impressionable with this hate and rejection of others different to them in faith.
On several occasions I have asserted that in no way do I label all Muslims as bad...or good. Or any other group of people fo rthat matter...If I did, I would be a great big hypocrite. If I did, I wouldn't be speaking with you.

I call people who kill in the name of Islam terrorists...they are! they instill terror in the hearts of innocent people...by definition they are terrorists. I would call them this if they were killing in the name of Christ, Buddha or even the tooth fairy!


Does that clear it up for you? If you go back to the comment section on that particuar post, you'll find a reference to the full report which was published by the Institute of Gulf Affairs.

يونيو 04, 2006  
Blogger Bent El Neel said...

Now to clarify the meaning of
"Sons of vipers" that you keep bringing up:

This term appears in the Gospels once referring to what John the Baptist called the Pharisees...then to Jesus Christ calling them this as well.

I refer to this wonderful resourceCoptic Books:
and in particular to this explanation of Matthew's Gospel page 107:
The Pharisees claimed Jesus exorcised the demons with the help of satan. He called them sons of vipers to indicate that they are speaking what satan put into their hearts...and if you are aware, the viper is a symbol of satan in Christianity. If they were speaking what satan had planted in their hearts, then they are satan's mouthpiece...the viper's mouthpiece.

Refer also to this explanation which rea ffirms the previous one. The context was that even if people believe they are inherently "bad" God is giving them hope that they can improve:
اجعلوا الشجرة الجيّدة وثمرها جيدًا، أو اجعلوا الشجرة رديئة وثمرها رديًا، لأن من الثمر تُعرف الشجرة" [33
بهذا يفتح أمامهم باب الرجاء، فإنهم وإن سقطوا في التجديف لكن بإرادتهم يستطيعون أن ينعموا بإمكانيّة الله لتغيير شجرة حياتهم. إن كانت كلماتهم المملوءة تجديفًا تكشف عن نوعيّة شجرهم الداخلي العقيم، لكنهم قادرون بالرب أن يغيِّروا طبيعة شجرهم.

So in summary: the reference to the viper is a symbol of the devil and how these people Jesus was addressing had allowed evil to grow inside them. They were hypocrites, appearing pious but inside of them, they were nothing but mouthpieces of the viper.

Hope that helps explain the whole viper issue :)

Salam my friend and God bless you

يونيو 04, 2006  
Anonymous muslim said...

Bent:
Thank you for your polite reply, and for questioning about my exams :)

يونيو 04, 2006  
Blogger Osaid Rasheed said...

Waw !!
What a response !

Good work.
:)

يوليو 02, 2006  
Blogger Osaid Rasheed said...

Egypter :
you never heard any christian leader speak badly about Islam..
agree with you ( except for exceptions )

I just wana explain one idea here : the arab culture does not easily accept others. This has nothing to do with Islam.

Islam is the religion of peace, as well as christianity is. We should all respect each other views.

with care.
osaid,Palestine.

يوليو 02, 2006  

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