SHAFAQNA – Nadim Nassar, a prominent Syrian priest, and head of the Awareness Foundation – penned an open letter directed at Muslims in the Middle East, calling for tolerance, and brotherhood at a time of great fear and uncertainty.
A voice in the dark, Mr Nassar had enough wisdom to recognize that the evil of Daesh speaks in fact not for Islam, but Evil. A man of peace, a man of God, he offered love, where others only sough to promote hate.
Following is his letter:
“O Muslims of the East, we, the Christians of the East, will stay in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. We are a religion that is rooted in the East to our core. In your name, we are persecuted, in your name, our churches are burned, in your name, we are displaced, in your name, we are killed, and for you, O Muslims of the East, we are staying, no matter how heavy our cross is becoming, because our resurrection is in you and with you.
They shout “Allahu Akbar” and slaughter us, we together say “Allahu Akbar” – God is greater than our hatred and the darkness of their hearts.
We will not be separated from you, and we have no home without you, because God has made our destiny shared, our pain shared, and our joy shared, and even our mourning is shared. If they displace us from Mosul, the holy Najaf will be our home; if they slaughter us in Raqqah we will move to Damascus; if Mosul and Raqqah fall, then Aleppo and Basra will witness that the Lord is one and His house is the house of prayer wherever it exists.
O Muslims of the East, we faced together the foolishness of the Crusaders, and the darkness of the Ottomans, and the greed of the West. Together we will go back to Mosul and Nineveh, Raqqah and Aleppo, we will fast Ramadan again and welcome the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Before we rebuild the burned churches and mosques, we want to rebuild humans, who were created in God’s own image. God created us, people and tribes that we may know each other and build relationships of love with Him and with each other. He created us different out of great wisdom and endless love. He wanted us to have different religions so that we could worship Him in our diverse ways to enrich and serve each other, revealing in the process His own image and live His own culture, the Culture of love and giving.
We will not leave, O Muslims of the East. The umbilical cord which joined us for centuries, neither ISIS nor the masters of ISIS will be able to cut. All our ways in the East lead us to you. All our prayers we lift with you and for you. They destroyed the Cross raised on our churches, but they will not be able to break the crucified one because He rose from the dead as a power of love and forgiveness. They burned the churches, but they cannot dismantle the body of Christ on earth, because “on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18)
We are with you. Together we are the hands of God, and His feet, and His heart, and His face on this earth. Do not be afraid: Hulagu Khan ended and Genghis Khan fell, and all the conquests and occupations of the East and West were defeated only because we realized that hands that interlock can perform miracles. The road to Damascus, which was travelled by the Apostle Paul when he saw the light of Christ, is also leading to Beirut, Jerusalem, Baghdad, and Raqqah and Gaza, to Mosul and Nineveh. The Road to Calvary, which was walked by the great teacher Jesus, ended with a cross; this is our way, when we left our homes in Mosul and Nineveh and Aleppo. The Way of the Cross was never a way of brokenness and weakness. Jesus was crucified, He died and He rose again. He rose again for us and for you. He forgave us and you; He loved us and you. If we were to leave today, we would come back tomorrow to knock at your doors and stand on your doorsteps and eat from the same bread, because the table is not ours but it is God’s, and He is calling us to fill it with joy and love and to plant the fields of our homes with the seeds of peace and light.”
Today Shafaqna would like to answer his call.
“We are all the sons and daughters of Adam, we: you and I, Christians and Muslims will always be united in our Scriptures, our prophets and our History.
We: you and I, share in the love of Issa ibn Myriam (Jesus son of Mary), your Bible blesses his name, our Quran blesses his name. We stand brothers, and forever join as we are the People of the Book, we: you and I believe in the God of Ibrahim (Abraham) and our hearts have submitted to All Mighty God.
We: you and I, will stand together until such a day when men’s deeds will be weighed and all answers offered.
We: you and I, will stand united until such a day when Justice will be ours again, and our hearts joined in one final prayer.
We: you and I, live by the Word, and in God we trust and in Him we seek refuge … you and I – like it was at the beginning, so will it be at the end. You son of Adam, me, son of Adam, brothers in creation, brothers in our love for the All Mighty … and if there are differences, and if they are disagreements … let those melt away, let those disappear to find unity in our commonalities and wisdom in our differences.
God is wiser and mightier, and when all is said and done, it is His Will which will shine forth.
Let’s stand in the light together, for where God stands there is no darkness to fear, and no hate to be had.”