In some areas of Syria, Christians and Alawite Muslims have lived peacefully in blended communities for generations. This leads some to believe that all Muslims are benign, and that Islam itself looks with favor and kinship upon Christianity. The irony of such an impression is that the Alawite sect, itself an offshoot of Shia Islam, is viewed as heretical (even more heretical than the Shiites) by the predominantly Sunni jihadists of Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, and their various other cannibalistic allies. The Sunni Muslim jihadists are openly slaughtering Muslim Alawites alongside Christians.
I personally suspect such expressions as Syrian priest Fr Naaman Rawik's are born from some experience with "peaceful" or "moderate" Muslims like the Alawites, combined with a desperate hope to find some way to gain traction with the Islamists and stay their murderous hands.
Unfortunately, spiritual deception such as the sort embraced by the Islamists is not so easy to overcome. Telling them what Islam "really" teaches, especially when the Islamists know perfectly well exactly what Islam really teaches, is doomed to fail. The better approach is to condemn Islam as the false religion it actually is, and invite all Muslims, peaceful and murderous alike, to repent and turn to Jesus Christ in the Orthodox Church. For the Lord wishes "that all may be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 TIM 2:4).
I'll be posting ample material on this latter approach in the coming days as we commemorate New Priest-Martyr Fr Daniil Sysoev of Moscow, who was slain by a Muslim extremist on November 19, 2009.
Syrian priest tells Islamic supremacists who destroyed his parish that they are betraying "true Islam"
Jihad Watch — 11/6/2013
Fr. Naaman Rawik joins a long line of non-Muslims who take it upon themselves to explain to Islamic jihadists how they are misunderstanding Islam. Usually we see this with judges while they are sentencing jihadists to prison; in this case, it's a priest whose church has been destroyed.
Perhaps Fr. Naaman, if he knows the Qur'an, had this passage in mind:
"And were it not that Allah checks the people, some by means of others, there would have been demolished monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of Allah is much mentioned. And Allah will surely support those who support Him. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might." (22:40)
This would seem to be a blanket prohibition against the destruction of churches. Unfortunately, it is not all that the Qur'an says. The Qur'an many times reaffirms that its message is the same as that of the Torah and the Gospel, and calls on Jews and Christians to note that and accept it as divine revelation. Those who do not are castigated and threatened with punishment:
"Indeed, they who disbelieved among the People of the Scripture and the polytheists will be in the fire of Hell, abiding eternally therein. Those are the worst of creatures." (Qur'an 98:6)
So while the "name of Allah is much mentioned" in the churches and synagogues of those who acknowledge Muhammad and the Qur'an, the same cannot be said of the churches and synagogues of "they who disbelieved among the People of the Scripture," who are "the worst of creatures." This is likely how the Islamic supremacists who destroyed Fr. Naaman's church and other churches in Egypt and Syria explain and justify their actions to those who question them on Islamic grounds.
Fr. Naaman also invokes the common father of Jews, Christians and Muslims, Abraham. However, when Muslims think of Abraham, they are unlikely to recall the passage of Genesis calling him the "father of many nations." Instead, they read this in the Qur'an:
"There has already been for you an excellent pattern in Abraham and those with him, when they said to their people, 'Indeed, we are disassociated from you and from whatever you worship other than Allah. We have denied you, and there has appeared between us and you animosity and hatred forever until you believe in Allah alone' except for the saying of Abraham to his father, 'I will surely ask forgiveness for you, but I have not [power to do] for you anything against Allah.' Our Lord, upon You we have relied, and to You we have returned, and to You is the destination."
That is, Muslims have an "excellent pattern" in Abraham when he tells his people, "There has appeared between us and you animosity and hatred forever until you believe in Allah alone," but not when Abraham tells his father that he will pray for forgiveness for him. Muslims are told to imitate Abraham in his animosity and hatred toward those who do not worship Allah alone, but not in his praying for forgiveness for them.
"Syrian priest tells Islamists who destroyed his parish that they are betraying ‘true Islam,’"
from CWN, November 6 (thanks to Twostellas):
Father Naaman Rawik, a Syrian priest now in Lebanon, has issued a statement to the members of the rebel Islamist militias who destroyed his parish.
The statement was translated into French by the Catholic organization Fraternité Chrétienne Sarthe-Orient and subsequently excerpted in English by the Fides news agency.
“You have erased all Christian traces, destroying our churches and offending their patron saints, taking possession of our homes and pushing pastors and their parishioners into exile,” the priest said. “Thank you, for your actions are a reflection of what you are … because a good tree bears good fruit and a bad tree bears bad fruit. ‘By their fruits you shall know them,’ says the Bible.”
“Is not Islam in the continuity with Abraham, who is the father of all believers and the religion behind which we Christians started walking 600 years before you?” he added.
He continued, “Return to your holy books, learn from them true Islam,” which “can demonstrate, through the verses of the Qur’an, that you have become strangers of the book and the teaching of Allah on tolerance, that you are now strangers to our authentically Arab way of living, that you are totally foreign to the traditions of respect in which we grew up, Muslims and Christians in Syria.”