Ask a Copt initiative

Here is my humble attempt to bridge the gap between Egyptians! A gap of ignorance, misunderstanding and lack of communication..

I have been raised in a predominantly Muslim society which made me learn a lot about Islam and Muslims, this knowledge helped me to further understand my Muslim friends: their habits, their motives, their fears, and their restraints. But what about my Muslim compatriots?! They never needed to know more about their Christian partners. This happened due to many reasons: biased education, opinionated media, lack of communication means, and the marginalization of the Copts in the Egyptian society.

The lack of understanding -or the misunderstanding- is a huge obstacle facing our new Egypt. No one would disagree that we aspire after a better society, which doesn’t discriminate between its members. And I blame ignorance mainly, before intolerance, for the tragic sectarian clashes that happened in the past. The last incident in Atfeeh is a strong example of how ignorance can lead to disasters.

So, I propose here a channel of communication, I am ready to answer your questions about the Copts, with the aim of correcting any misconceptions, emphasizing on the commonalities, and seeking better understanding of the other.  Some important remarks are needed though:

  • This is not a debate arena
  • This is not an apologetic one too
  • I am not here to evangelize 🙂
  • My answers will be more about information not proofs
  • I am willing to answer all questions except for patronizing or demeaning ones

Please leave your questions in the comment area, and I’ll answer and post them as soon as possible, If you find this initiative helpful, please spread the word. I’ll be glad if I can be of a productive role in building our new society as much as I can!

مبادرة اسأل قبطي:


فيما يلي محاولتي المتواضعة لسد الفجوة بين المصريين! فجوة عدم المعرفة وسوء الفهم وانعدام الاتصال..
لقد نشأت في مجتمع أغلبه مسلم مما جعلني اعرف الكثير عن الإسلام والمسلمين وساعدتني هذه المعرفة  في فهم المزيد عن أصدقائي المسلمين : عاداتهم، دوافعهم، مخاوفهم، والقيود الخاصة بهم. ولكن ماذا عن أبناء بلدي المسلمين! لم يحتاجوا أبدا لمعرفة المزيد عن شركائهم المسيحيين. و حدث هذا نتيجة لأسباب عديدة : التعليم المتحيز، و الإعلام المتعنت، والافتقار إلى وسائل الاتصال، وتهميش الأقباط في المجتمع المصري.
عدم المعرفة أو سوء الفهم، يشكل العقبة الكبرى التي تواجهها مصرنا الجديدة. لا أحد يختلف في اننا نطمح إلى مجتمع أفضل، لا يميز بين أعضائه و فئاته. وأنا ألوم الجهل أساسا، قبل التعصب، عن الاشتباكات الطائفية المأساوية التي وقعت في الماضي. آخر حادثة في أطفيح هي مثال قوي  لكيف يمكن أن يؤدي الجهل إلى الكوارث.
لذا، أقترح هذا المكان هنا ليكون قناة اتصال، وأنا على استعداد للإجابة على أسئلتكم حول الأقباط، بهدف تصحيح المفاهيم الخاطئة و التأكيد على القواسم المشتركة، والسعي إلى فهم أفضل للآخر ولكن هناك حاجة إلى بعض الملاحظات الهامة :
  • هذا ليس مكان للمناظرات
  • وهذه ليست ساحة دفاعية عن المسيحية
  • لست هنا للتبشير 🙂
  • وسوف تكون إجاباتي معلومات لا براهين
  • وأنا على استعداد للرد على جميع الاسئلة باستثناء تلك التي بها نبرة استعلاء أو مهينة
يرجى ترك أسئلتكم كتعليق على هذه المدونة، وأنا سأجيب عليهم في أقرب وقت ممكن، إذا وجدت هذه المبادرة مفيدة، يرجى نشرها . سأكون سعيدا إذا استطعت أن أقوم  بدور مثمر في بناء المجتمع الجديد بقدر ما يمكنني!
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Batch 1 of questions and answers: Here

Batch 2 of questions and answers: Here

 

9 responses

23 04 2011
Henrik

Nofri!
What do you think of Europeans who come to the Coptic Church instead of the Roman Catholic or the Lutheran?

25 04 2011
George Fahim

Nofri 🙂 and Xristos Anesti,
This is a hard question to answer, but the first thing that came on my mind is : “They are most welcome!!”. However, I have to say it is not an easy transition, they would face culture and language issues, specially in the beginning. This might discourage them in the early stage of transition, but those who persevere will eventually taste the richness of the Coptic Church, and would never let go of their faith.
There are huge differences between the Coptic and the RC/Lutheran Churches, I can’t even list in a comment, but it’s both faith and practices differences. I believe that Orthodoxy in general, has a unique perspective regarding dogma and practice which can’t be found in other traditions, So what I can suggest is: before taking any move, a person should study and research the Orthodox teachings, If S/he is convinced with the Orthodox teachings then the transition will be based on a solid foundation that can’t be shaken.
May the Lord bless you,
George

25 04 2011
Henrik

Are you allowed to keep your European culture when becoming Oriental Orthodox?

25 04 2011
George Fahim

Hej 🙂
As long as these traditions are conforming to the scripture, I believe one can keep them..
When I talk about culture shock or differences, I mean in a context that might hinder the integration of the convert into the Coptic society, because demographically Coptic churches outside Egypt are mainly Egyptian expats, who carry their traditions with them from Egypt. I think the Coptic Church abroad has to work more in creating a more welcoming environment to the non-Egyptian members.

30 05 2011
Henrik

Nofri!
On Good Friday there is no Eucharist since Jesus was not risen at that time. Why are we then allowed to celebrate the Eucharist on x-mas when Jesus was in fact only born and not crucified and risen?

6 06 2011
George Fahim

Hej Henrik, and sorry for the late reply…forgive me,

Eucharist is the essence of the liturgical life of the church, It is the life giving meal that we depend on for our spiritual nurturing,
And only during the whole Holy week (except for Covenant Thursday) the church stops breaking the bread. This is because this week we live the passion of Christ day by day starting from palm Sunday when He entered Jerusalem till His Crucifiction and death. Each hour we pray in the morning and evening prayers represent one event that happened during that week.
During the holy week we also replace the normal Canonical hours prayer from the Agpeya and replace them with the praise “Thok te ti Gom” (Thine is the power, the glory, the blessing, and the majesty, forever Amen), because the Psalms used in the canonical hours are prophesying the whole life of Jesus Christ, while during this week we focus on His passion, only verses talking about His passion are read during the holy week.
You know that on Covenant Thursday, many parts of the Liturgy are not prayed for the same reason. For example, What is known as the “Reconciliation Prayer” is not prayed because on Thursday, we haven’t been reconciled yet, because reconciliation happened because of Jesus’s redemptive death on the cross and His Triumphal resurrection.

To sum this, The church wants us to focus mainly on the passion of Jesus Christ during the holy week, because without His passion and death, we wouldn’t be celebrating the Eucharist any time.

22 06 2011
4 11 2013
c.a. eggert

I know that this post is old but I have a question anyway. What if I have fallen in love with a Coptic Egyptian and I’m not a Coptic Egyptian but a Christian American woman? Is there any hope that we could ever be together? He is everything I ever asked God for. He is such a good person and just knowing him makes me want to be better and better everyday. I know I am selfish in wanting to be his wife someday but am realistic and think that it is not possible because of everything I have read and heard. We can talk for hours on the phone about everything in the world and still not have enough to say or hear. So am I wasting his time and mine. Should I not talk to him anymore? I have a strong belief that God sent him to me. Why would God do that and make him unattainable?

4 11 2013
George Fahim

Dear sister in Christ,
I think I understand your predicament, The Coptic Church is a traditional church that doesn’t allow inter-denomentational / inter-faith marriages, but I also know that love is something to be cherished and fought for, afterall, God Himself is Love and He loves all mankind unconditionally and we love one another because God created us in His image and likeness. Your love to this guy is great as long as it’s selfless and sacrificial.
That being said, let’s try to analyze the situation:
-You haven’t mentioned anything about his feelings towards you. Does he love you as much as you do? Is he willing to do some sacrifices so that you can become together (specially with convincing his family)?
-You probably understand the obstacles facing your marriage, but have you thought of going with him to a Coptic church (that has an English liturgy)? This may be an eye-opener (you also need to see for yourself what he believes in, and how he practices his faith). You can also grab a book about the Coptic faith and read it. You might even like the Coptic church! However, I don’t think converting to the Coptic church just for the sake of marriage is a good idea.
-Above all, you need to pray! lift the whole issue towards God, put it in his hands. He will definitely answer your prayers and guide you to the best solution. you may also talk with an elder/pastor in your church, and a priest in his. They might give some insightful oppinions from their experiences, specially the Coptic priest, as your case is, for sure, not their first one to hear.

you both are in my prayers,
George

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