Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Muhammad’s Letter to the Christian monks at Mt Sinai

01 Muslims and Christians protest attack against church in Egypt



One issue often discussed on news site and blogs over the last several days is the many attacks on Egypt’s Christian communities. Several outlets reported that violence by supporters of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi Isa al-Ayyat left dozens of Christian churches and Coptic-owned businesses and properties burnt. Fears of widespread sectarian strife seem to be growing among Egypt’s Christian minority.

The violence against Egypt’s Christians reminds me of the important symbolism of the Prophet Muhammad’s letter to the Christian monks at St Catherine Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai in 628 AD. In his letter, Muhammad championed universal peace and harmony between Christians and Muslims. Not only did he outline how Muslims should treat Christians, but Muhammad also touched upon human rights, including freedom of conscience, freedom of worship, and the right to protection in war.

Here’s an English translation of Muhammad’s letter:

This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who profess Christianity, near and far, we are with them. Verily the servants, the helpers, my followers, and I defend them, because Christians are my citizens, and, by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are you to remove their judges from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they’re my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate. No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it can’t take place without her approval. No one is prevent her from visiting her church to pray. You shall respect their churches. You shall neither prevent them from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey this covenant until the Last Day (end of the world).

The attacks by some Egyptian Muslims on their fellow Egyptian Christian citizens is deplorable, for the simple fact that the prophet of Islam, Muhammad, would’ve condemned any violence towards Christians and people of non-Muslim faiths. One has to wonder if the Egyptian Muslims involved in these attacks can even call themselves “Muslims” with any sense of integrity or legitimacy.

Please, visit Craig Considine’s excellent blog where this was originally posted here. You’ll find many such inspirational articles.

18 August 2013

The American Muslim




Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Composure of the Russian Ummah


The Russian Council of Muftis appealed to Russian Muslims to not give in to provocations and show the true character of Islam. They called on the faithful not to pour out their anger at the film Innocence of Muslims and to show honour, patience, and compassion. This film insults Muslims; it’s triggered a wave of disturbances in many countries and has become one of the key topics discussed by the Russian authorities in the past few days. They assessed the film as a potential threat to public peace and order. The Genprokuratura intends to ban the distribution of the film. In an interview with VOR, Mufti Albir Krganov, the First Deputy Head of the Central Spiritual Department of Muslims in Russia, believes that the display of the film in Russia would hardly trigger riots, saying, “Prophet Muhammad said that those who cause disorder are like unto those who wake a snake. Consequently, we shouldn’t give into vulgar provocations and should respond in accordance with the law. Insulting the feelings of the faithful is extremely blasphemous; only the corrupt do it, those with no discernment or conscience. The law should severely punish such people, in order to maintain peace and composure in society”.

However, some believe that maintaining the peace is nothing but serving the Russian authorities’ interests. Geidar Dzhemal, Chairman of the Russian Islamic Committee said, “Why should we give in? What specifically are we giving up? Why shouldn’t we express our indignation? The Council of Muftis is simply a special service of the presidential administration; it’s only concerned about the interests of the authorities, not the interests of ordinary Muslims. Expressing our indignation is good for Muslims, whilst showing no response is in the interests of authorities”.

Meanwhile, Damir-Khazrat Gizatullin, First Deputy Chairman of the Spiritual Department of Muslims in European Russia, believes that true Muslims shouldn’t draw attention to such provocations and should direct their energy to spiritual development and creative work, saying, “We see that regional heads of those regions with a large Muslim population, along the Volga, in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, as well as the North Caucasus, support the campaign for banning this provocative film. During Friday prayers, and, even now through this radio broadcast, we call on Muslims not to give into provocations, but to work, build up our families, protect our state, become educated, and make the Hajj and return home safely”. In his blog, Damir-Khazrat said that composure doesn’t mean indifference or cowardice. Moreover, Russia has sufficient moral and judicial resources to counter such threats.

 20 September 2012

Grigori Milenin

Voice of Russia World Service


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Russia Without YouTube?



The YouTube video hosting service may become unavailable to Russians. The reason is that the trailer to the notorious film Innocence of Muslims is available there. The Genprokuratura recognised the film as extremist and insulting to Muslims. However, Google, which owns YouTube, refused to restrict access to the clip. The Genprokuratura filed a case in court to forbid the circulation of the film in Russia. There’s been no decision taken on the matter yet, but the Genprokuratura already instructed the Public Oversight Commission to take the appropriate steps. The trailer, which appeared on YouTube, provoked a wave of anti-American protests in Muslim countries.

In spite of requests from governments around the world, Google declared that it wouldn’t delete the clip. Later, access to it was restricted, but not in all countries. For example, in Pakistan, the scandalous film wasn’t blocked. As a result, the local authorities ordered ISPs to close access to YouTube for all Pakistani users. The same could happen in Russia. Amendments to the law protecting children from harmful material come into effect on 1 November. If YouTube doesn’t delete the page containing the forbidden clip by that time, all Russian ISPs would have to restrict access to this site.

Ivan Zasursky, the Chairman of Communications Theory of the Journalism Department of Moscow State University believes, “Still, it’s unlikely that things would go that far, with YouTube being blocked. Even if the law allowed putting YouTube on the list of sites to be blocked, it isn’t obligatory to do so. YouTube is a law-abiding company in all countries where it broadcasts. In some Arab countries, the film is unavailable. I believe that in Russia it’d be unavailable too”.

Meanwhile, Terry Jones, the mastermind of the scandalous film, has become persona non grata in Europe. The American pastor was notorious even before Innocence of Muslims was posted online. He’s known for burning Qurans. Recently, when he wanted to visit Germany at the invitation of an ultra-right group, the German authorities declared that his presence in their country was undesirable. Washington also seems to realise what kind of genie it let out of the bottle. The American government admitted that the wave of protests in the Arab world could result in a long crisis with unpredictable consequences.

18 September 2012

Mikhail Aristov

Voice of Russia World Service



Coptic and Muslim Leaders Denounce Violence Over “Innocence of Muslims”

Dr Maher Hathout, senior adviser of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Southern California, and Coptic Orthodox Bishop Serapion (1951- ) of Los Angeles at a news conference in Los Angeles CA USA condemning the violence surrounding the film Innocence of Muslims. Now, THIS is the real deal. THIS is what relations between REAL Orthodox and Muslims are like. God bless this.


On Monday, Muslim and Coptic Orthodox leaders stood together to condemn the anti-American violence that broke out in several countries following the release of an anti-Muslim film allegedly made in Southern California. In a news conference at Los Angeles City Hall, they said that the creators of Innocence of Muslims need not fear retribution from them. The movie, whose trailer was posted on YouTube, is considered blasphemous by Muslims because it mocks the Prophet Muhammad. Maher Hathout, senior adviser of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Southern California, called the movie “hate speech” and “instigation”, but added, “We don’t go after people for what they say. If he’s hiding from us, he’s wrong. Hide from somebody else. We aren’t interested”. Hathout was referring to Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, an Egyptian Coptic Christian and naturalised American citizen living in Cerritos purported to be one of the makers of the film.

The movie was linked to protests that resulted in the death of the American Ambassador in Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other State Department employees. Hathout condemned those behind the violence, saying, “Those are neither Muslims nor Copts… those are people who are psychologically diseased, with hearts full of hate, and minds full of ignorance. There should’ve been no bloodshed. As a matter of fact, there should’ve been no reaction to such an insignificant production”. Bishop Serapion, the spiritual leader of the Coptic Orthodox church in Los Angeles, said neither should the movie trigger violence against Copts, noting, “We find there’s no justification to make such a movie, so, there’s no justification to retaliate or attack the Coptic community”. He also released a statement, “The actions of a few ignorant individuals don’t represent the collective Copt diaspora, nor do they represent the collective Muslim community”. Both religious leaders said they hope recent events would draw the Muslim and Coptic communities of Los Angeles closer.

17 September 2012

Christina Villacorte

Press-Telegram (Long Beach CA)



On Monday, the spiritual leader of about 120 Coptic Christian families who live in the Portland OR metro area issued a statement critical of the film that’s sparked violent protests in Muslim countries. Fr Mekhail Hanna, pastor of St Antonious Coptic Orthodox Church in Southeast Portland, said the movie Innocence of Muslims is “inappropriate”. Also on Monday, The Los Angeles Times reported that the filmmaker, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who claims to be a Coptic Christian, is in hiding with his family.

According to Fr Mekhail, the film, which sparked a riot in Libya, in which four Americans were killed, and several other violent protests, doesn’t reflect the teaching of the Coptic Church, saying, “The Coptic Orthodox Church respects equally all religions and doesn’t agree or like to see any religion treated with disrespect. We’re commanded in the Bible to deal with others with love, kindness, and respect, and we adhere to that. The behaviour of an individual in our community doesn’t reflect the opinion of our Church, and we should deal with such individuals through the legal channels according to the current laws”. Fr Mekhail, who’s been pastor of the Portland congregation since 2006, said Coptic Christians “disagree with the killing of innocent people”, including those who “disagree” with freedom of speech or don’t know about the film, observing, “We hope that the sound of peace will cover the spark that was ignited by this inappropriate movie”.

17 September 2012

Nancy Haught

Oregon Live


Editor’s Note:

With all the rightwing bloviation out there, THIS is refreshing. By the way, Dr Mathout said this:

Home is not where my grandparents are buried; home is where my grandchildren will be raised.

Hear, hear! This story wins the laurels as the story that I’ve most enjoyed covering in a long while. It DOES restore faith in humanity, doesn’t it?


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