By Raymond Ibrahim – Special to Coptic Solidarity –
For an idea of why Egypt’s Coptic Christians and their churches are constantly under attack—most recently last Sunday, when a church was bombed, killing at least 25 Christians—one need merely listen to the words and teachings of some of Egypt’s Muslim preachers.
Take Dr. Ahmed al-Naqib, for instance. He has studied at the best Islamic madrassas, including Al Azhar, authored numerous books on doctrine, received awards and decorations for his academic achievements, and regularly appears on television. In one video he appeared discussing an earlier Muslim mob attack on a church in Egypt, which the media and government always denounce as fitna, an Arabic word that means temptation or discord and which Islam commands Muslims to prevent.
Citing revered Islamic texts including the Koran, Naqib explained that the open display of shirk—the greatest sin in Islam, associating someone else with God, which the Koran accuses Christians of doing via the Trinity—“is the worst form of fitna, worse than murder and bloodshed.” In other words, and as he made perfectly clear in the remainder of the video, fitna (or discord) is not when Muslims attack Christian churches—far from it—but rather when Christians are allowed to flaunt their shirk (or blasphemies) in churches near Muslims. Fighting that—even to the point of “murder and bloodshed”—is preferable.
Then there’s Dr. Yasser Burhami, the face of Egypt’s Salafi movement, who is as well credentialed and prolific as Naqib: he’s on record saying that, although a Muslim man is permitted to marry Christian or Jewish women, he must make sure he still hates them in his heart—and always shows them that he hates them because they are infidels; otherwise he risks losing his Islam. As for churches, the sheikh once issued a fatwa forbidding Muslim taxi and bus drivers from transporting Christian priests to their churches, which he depicted as “more forbidden than taking someone to a liquor bar.”
The analogy is not original to Burhami, of course, but rather traces back to some of Islam’s most revered theologians, including Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim. They taught that “building churches is worse than building bars and brothels, for those [churches] symbolize infidelity, whereas these [bars and brothels] represent immorality.”
One can go on and on with examples of Muslim clerics inciting—with absolute impunity—against Christians and their churches in Egypt. The point here is clear: until such time comes that the Egyptian government removes the “radical” sheikhs and their teachings from the mosques, schools, television stations and all other positions of influence, Muslims will continue to be radicalized, churches will continue to be bombed, and Christians will continue to be killed.