zaterdag 7 juni 2014

(De-)Kristenisasi in the Middle East?

12 May 2014 Herman Teule gave his valedictory lecture in Nijmegen as professor of Christianity in the Middle East. His title had as title: Lif and Death (?) of Christians in the Middle East. His title refers to a book of French diplomat Jean Pierre Valognes who wrote recently a book under the same title. In 2008 there was also a quite sensational book by Philip Jenkins, The Lost History of Christianity, where Jenkins describes how a majority of Christians lived once in countries that are now dominated by Muslims.
Herman Teule gave a great summary of diverse relations between various Christian denominations and Islam. Besides dark period (especially the Mamluks were criticized for their lack of tolerance), there were also periods when Christians really participated in the Arab-Muslim society and had great contributions to this civilization. The contribution to the translations of Greek text in Arabic in the Dar al-hikmah was an absolute topper here.
Herman foto 2

Teule blamed the tendency of Western European countries and churches (included the Vatican) to  claim a cooperation and close identity to these Christians and separate them from Arab Muslims.
From the Syrian Metropolitan of Europe (now living in the Netherlands, migrated from East Turkey and Syria during thelast decades) he received a calligraphy, but it must have been a gift with some negative aspects as well: these Syrian Christians (besides the Coptic Egyptian and Armenians, who now have both churches in my town of Utrecht) are diminishing in the Middle East because many members move towards western countries.
In the history of Islam the word Andalusian syndrome is used for the once powerful and prosperous communies of Muslim in Spain. They disappeared. In India the Muslim influence has declined sharply after the arrival of the British  and the independence in 1947 with the emergence of Pakistan asa Muslim State.
In Indonesia Muslims are afraid of the declining influence, but also Christians feel threatened by hardline Muslims. As to the battlefield in the Middle East for Teule the only solution is that Christians feel really Arabs, but also are accepted as such by the Muslim Arabs.

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