• Welcome to Christian Forums
  1. Welcome to Christian Forums, a forum to discuss Christianity in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to be able to join in fellowship with Christians all over the world.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon and God Bless!

  2. The forums in the Christian Congregations category are now open only to Christian members. Please review our current Faith Groups list for information on which faith groups are considered to be Christian faiths. Christian members please remember to read the Statement of Purpose threads for each forum within Christian Congregations before posting in the forum.
  3. Please note there is a new rule regarding the posting of videos. It reads, "Post a summary of the videos you post . An exception can be made for music videos.". Unless you are simply sharing music, please post a summary, or the gist, of the video you wish to share.

Cultural Question For Copts on Islam

Discussion in 'The Voice In The Desert - Oriental Orthodox' started by SuperCloud, Sep 10, 2014.

  1. SuperCloud

    SuperCloud Newbie

    +225
    Seeker
    Single
    Okay, Copts, and you can correct me if I'm wrong, isn't the most pressing cultural issue within the Coptic sphere the relationship Copts have with their neighbors in the Islamic world?

    And I've always wondered if Copts living in Egypt felt 90% cool, comfortable with Muslims in Egypt and the Middle East (or Africa), or like 90% not cool and comfortable with them?

    I understand there are theological differences between the two (e.g., the divinity of Christ) but I'm trying to better understand the degree there is, if any, a cultural gap or closeness between the two?

    I say that because on one hand I see Copts being martyred by some Muslims, then on the other hand I see some Muslims standing side-by-side Copts and Copts participating in the cultural and political life of Egypt.

    Again... this might be a stupid question to some of you Copts but it's not something I fully understand (Coptic situation) residing all the way over here in the Midwest USA and reared blinded by Catholicism.


    Thanks.
     
    We teamed up with Faith Counseling. Can they help you today?
  2. Tigger45

    Tigger45 St. Francis of Assisi Supporter

    +8,444
    United States
    Christian
    Married
    US-Constitution
    This sub-forum is pretty slow so don't take offense if you don't get an answer right away. Although there are a couple OO members who are fairly knowledgeable that can help you out.
     
  3. dzheremi

    dzheremi Coptic Orthodox non-Egyptian

    +9,038
    Oriental Orthodox
    Private
    Hello. Questions like these are very general and can't be easily answered with regard to all Copts or all of Egypt. I have never lived in Egypt myself (I am a convert to the Coptic Orthodox Church from a Roman Catholic background), but everyone I know who has or still does tells me that things tend to move in waves or cycles: Sometimes it's better and sometimes it's worse. It's never truly equal, of course, but that doesn't say anything about Muslims and Copts in terms of their personal relationships. One thing I will say, and I hope this will be read diplomatically and without malice (I wouldn't want to get in trouble with my first post), is that when Muslims have in the past protected Christians, they are protecting them from other Muslims, and when Christians have protected Muslims likewise, they are also protecting them from other Muslims. Make of that what you will.

    In terms of cultural origins and such, it is not controversial to say that the majority of Egypt's Muslims and Christians share the same (Coptic) origins. 'Copt' is, after all, just another word for 'Egyptian', so every Egyptian is a 'Copt' in that way (except, I guess, those from other ethnic backgrounds who are just as much Egyptian citizens but were never Copts, like the Nubians). The fact that most eventually apostasized to Islam is a relatively recent phenomenon when you are talking about a people whose origins date back to the beginning of time in that location. 'Copt' only came to mean specifically 'Egyptian Christian' after there were enough new Muslims from among the Egyptians to create two distinct religious identities from among one people, and still to this day you will find Muslims who claim their Pharaohnic heritage. I have even seen videos (only in Arabic, sorry) of Muslims who learned the Coptic language from priests, because they know that this is their true identity. The division in Egypt is one of religion, and of course of differing viewpoints of what it means to be Egyptian (i.e., should Egyptians look to their own indigenous past and consider themselves distinct from the "Arab world", or should they embrace pan-Arabism like Nasser, etc).

    I don't know if that answers your question or not. Hopefully someone else can answer about the mood in Egypt today. Most people in my church go back fairly often for weddings, to visit family, etc., but it is hard to tell exactly how it is from their comments. Mostly the ones I have asked say that it's not like it used to be, and they don't feel comfortable there given the political atmosphere and the recent societal changes that this has caused. My friend who just returned from a month around Cairo said he felt like he was in Afghanistan or something. It was very discouraging for him, because he is very proud to be Egyptian. I'm sure others have different feelings, though.
     
  4. Shane R

    Shane R Priest Supporter

    +569
    United States
    Anglican
    Widowed
    I am also a convert and not ethnically a Copt. The Coptic people have a diaspora that rivals the Jews in scope. Their may be a day when more Copts live outside of Egypt than in it.

    One element that Copts use to differentiate themselves from their Arabic neighbors is the Coptic language. The natives of Egypt are nearly all bilingual as it is a necessity in Egyptian society; the government and the majority of people speak Arabic. When one goes into church or the home of older Copts the language shifts to Coptic. There is in many cases a resentment of Arabic similar to the way many Hispanic people view English in their home.
     
  5. SuperCloud

    SuperCloud Newbie

    +225
    Seeker
    Single
    Tiger, yeah, I recognized it was/is slow on this board. But I suppose there are not many Copts that use this English language discussion board. And most Arabs of the United States are of Lebanese descent and Eastern Rite Catholics. I'm hazarding a guess the population of Copts in the USA and the rest of the English speaking world, is much smaller.

    dzheremi, I thought Copts are a separate ethnic group from the Arab Muslims in Egypt, with Copts claiming to be the descendants of the original Egyptians, who were eventually converted under the Apostle St. Mark?

    I've read a bit of Christian history (mainly on Latin Catholicism or authored by their historians) from authors that were Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox. I know that Alexandria used to be one of the 5 Great Holy Sees and that *Arab* who were Muslims eventually invaded Egypt taking over it. From an Eastern Orthodox historian (I believe by the name the person was Russian Orthodox) I learned that the Mongols offered an alliance to the Pope in Rome, European kings, to fight the Muslims, and even offered to re-take Egypt and give it back to the Christians. At this time most the Mongol Khans were married to Nesotorian Christian women, and most Mongol *scholars* were Nesotorian Christians. The Mongols had a falling out with Muslims when they beheaded one of the Mongol ambassadors sent to them, and sent his head back to the Mongols. Which unleashed the mighty Mongol horseman putting the Muslim forces on the run.

    According to this Eastern Orthodox historian, the Pope declined the alliance with the Mongols, preferring Egypt remain ruled by Muslims rather than empowering the Coptic Christians, if Catholicism could not rule over them.

    The Mongol had dispatched a Chinese Nesotorian Christian that was a scholar to the Pope and to Europe. Where apparently he wooed a lot of the European nobility. The Mongol Khan even named one of his sons after the Pope in an attempt to persuade the Pope to form alliance with the Mongols.

    That's what I read anyways.

    Shanethetheologian, thanks for the info. By the way, I have some admiration for Muslims in some ways. I most especially admire their ever faithful women. The Coptic women I admire the most. Their fidelity to Christ and the cross, to their Coptic ancestry and identity, is awing in light of what they face. From videos I've seen on Copts, Coptic girls and women not only risk brutal beatings to death from mobs of men like the Muslim Brotherhood, but they risk the occasional abduction, rapes, and forced conversions too. Yet, they will still brand the cross on their hand, like an American gang banger will brand the horns of the devil on his neck.
     
  6. Shane R

    Shane R Priest Supporter

    +569
    United States
    Anglican
    Widowed
    SuperCloud, there are dual patriarchates in Alexandria. The EO maintains a Chalcedonian patriarch and see in Alexandria to this day. The Coptic see is non-Chalcedonian but not mono-physite.
     
  7. dzheremi

    dzheremi Coptic Orthodox non-Egyptian

    +9,038
    Oriental Orthodox
    Private
    My point is that the Arab identity in Egypt (as I understand it, based on how Copts have explained it to me) came in with Islam. It is not the legitimate identity of most Egyptians, with regard to the recognized history of Egypt as it was before 642 AD and the Arab-Muslim invasion by Amr Ibn Al-'As and his army. Only after that did any native-born Egyptian begin to consider himself "Arab", and there are still many (Christian and Muslim alike) who do not easily accept this identity, since of course Egyptian history did not start in 642 AD when the Arab Muslims arrived en masse. "Copt" does not properly mean "Egyptian Christian", just "Egyptian". In their own language, the Copts would be called "Remnkemi", literally "People of Egypt". If you want to specify Egyptian Christian, you would say "Remnkemi en-Khristianos". But of course today, since most Egyptians have accepted the state-sanctioned version of history that leaves Egypt's Christian past out of the discussion of the country's identity, it is understood that when you say "Coptic", you are referring to an Egyptian Christian, and for that reason most Muslims would not call themselves "Copts", since they don't want to be associated with Christianity. But those Muslims who call themselves "Coptic Muslims" know what the Coptic Christians themselves have always known: That Coptic = Egyptian. But this does not sit well with people who want the Egyptian identity to be Arab and Muslim only, so they try to suppress this from being known among the general population.

    I have met priests and monks in our church who have given lessons in Coptic language to Muslims (very serious ones, too; fully-veiled women and conservative men) who wanted to know it. :) But of course that is here in the West where you can generally call yourself whatever you want and not be subjected to danger from people who think you are somehow threatening their identity and religion.
     
  8. SuperCloud

    SuperCloud Newbie

    +225
    Seeker
    Single
    Okay, I understand some of those terms and concepts a bit (e.g., dual; EO; patriarch; see) but mostly I think you understand all that stuff much better than I do. Basically, you're saying there are two rival sees in Alexandria, Egypt with one being Eastern Orthodox and the other being Oriental Orthodox?

    Do the EOs and OOs get along well, in general, globally? Better than the EOs and Roman Catholics relationships? I'm speaking more about the heads of the Churches not so much about lay people flipping burgers and picking up trash in the streets.
     
  9. SuperCloud

    SuperCloud Newbie

    +225
    Seeker
    Single
    dz! :) thanks for that information, it was illuminating. Had no idea about any of that. Never heard the word or term "Remnkemi" before either.

    But now that I think of it... I do recall reading Afro-centric literature produced by either pan-Africanists or the Nation of Islam, I think, that would refer to ancient Egyptians ans "Kemi" or Kemites" or something like that. Which resembles that latter half of that word "Remnkemi."

    Afrocentric literature is the first literary genre that go me into reading many decades ago. I have long since branched out into a far broader range of genres of literature. But it's what first brought me to "a life of reading."
     
  10. dzheremi

    dzheremi Coptic Orthodox non-Egyptian

    +9,038
    Oriental Orthodox
    Private
    Yes, "Kemi" (in various forms) means "black" in Coptic. This is not a racial claim about skin color for the Coptic people, though. Copts come in all colors.
     
  11. SuperCloud

    SuperCloud Newbie

    +225
    Seeker
    Single
    Ah, so my observation about the word "Remnkemi" and my recollection, weren't too far off? :)

    But wait... are you trying to tell me there are black Copts? :confused: You say they come in all colors.

    I don't know why black Copts would surprise me, I have seen black Muslims (Arabs I assumed) in the UAE when I was in the Middle East. Speaking of which, I have fond memories of the UAE.

    Can you explain a little what this "kemi" or black means or connotes to Copts in general, and what it means or connotes in relation to "Remn" in the word "Remnkemi."

    Thanks. :)
     
  12. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

    +1,182
    Oriental Orthodox
    Private
    US-Others
    A lot of people are shocked by Black Copts (as well as blacks in the Middle East, at all...including places like Iraq, as noted in #133 /#130 ). As it is, it's something that other Egyptians have noted to be problematic when the media presentations on who others are end up dominating how others approach people - stereotypes can and do make a world of difference. When I first visited a Coptic Orthodox Church, this was something that I was told to keep in mind - as one of the members (dark-skinned) noted how shocked others were whenever he told them of his experience coming from Egypt to move to Kansas and noting the extensive Egyptian population living there while also having to note to people that Egyptians were black as well. Some of the dynamics with knowing how Black people were connected to Egypt were things I grew up with when it came to seeing others who taught from an Afro-Centric perspective...but to see how deep things went for myself was another thing entirely. And since then, seeing the extent of how things go has been fascinating.

    Some of this was shared more in-depth elsewhere, as seen here:



     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2014
  13. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

    +1,182
    Oriental Orthodox
    Private
    US-Others
    Not certain as to how much research you may have done on the subject prior - but on the issue, the best place to start (if wanting to know how the Copts and the Muslims interact) would be to examine what some of the Bishops of the Church have said on the matter. There's His Holiness Pope Shenouda I in what he noted. Specifically, following the death of Pope Shenouda III, here is an exclusive interview conducted with the 117th Coptic pope from 1996 that discusses the rise of fundamentalist Islam in the middle east, the persecution of Coptic christians in Egypt, and the relationship between Copts and the rest of the Christian faith.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vl8KyO8DruI

    The Pope that followed him is another to consider - as Tawadros II has spoken out against the nation's Islamist leadership, giving a cautious but unusually critical commentary

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vEPJJaYU90

    Additionally, Bishop Angaelos is a big example of someone who can help a lot with your questions:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1j2GB4pe1sM

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GI9pQ5oCsyc

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLsfIZGwDFc

    More was shared on him and what other Copts have shared elsewhere...

    Even though relations are strained, there are still others seeking to be examples of what the Lord desired. From what I've often seen, there were many groups that have often noted how they had no desire to respond in violence whenever tension arises...as is the case with the Copts in Egypt and how they've often sought to live in harmony with Muslims--with many Muslims desiring to do the same even though others from Radical Isalm make it difficult and cause drama on all sides, including getting others incensed outside of Egypt. It requires a lot of examination when it comes to the complex interactions between Muslims and Christians, including the reality of believers from Muslim backgrounds who live in Islamic systems/share aspects of commonality with Muslims while trying to reach out to them as many have for centuries, especially seeing how the early Church saw Islam as a heresy..with much conversation/dialogue and peaceful times occurring....and others are seeing the kind of relationships people had with Muslims in the early church and how RADICAL Islam preys upon people not aware of that).


    Muslims seeking to support Coptic or Oriental Christians is not a new reality - just as it's not new that there have been times Christians have harmed Muslims. For the Copts, it's a big deal to walk out what Christ noted when it came to being a neighbor to those in need - be it Muslim or Christian.

    For other places to investigate, one may wish to consider places like Muslims vs Christians in Egypt.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2014
  14. dzheremi

    dzheremi Coptic Orthodox non-Egyptian

    +9,038
    Oriental Orthodox
    Private
    Yes, there are. I see Gxg (G²) has dealt with this reality in depth in reply, and I cannot add any more to that. But I have met Copts who would at least be classified as "African-American" in an American context, for whatever that means. But issues of race and racism in Egypt aren't necessarily analogous to racial classifications or thinking in other places, so it takes a lot of undoing preconceptions and bias to hopefully start seeing Egyptians as they see themselves, whether we're talking about Copts, Nubians, or any other people who belong to that land and its church.

    "Kemi" is, like I posted earlier, one of the reflexes of the word for "black" in Coptic (I've seen it written a few different ways, and since of course Coptic is not anyone's native language anymore it is difficult to say what shades of meaning, if any, might exist between "kemi", "kami", "kimi", or if these are variations due to dialect or scribal idiosyncrasy; they are listed together in both of the dictionaries I have). Often you can find reference in dictionaries or grammars to the "kemi" in Remnkemi meaning "black" with reference to the black soil of the Nile flood plain, as opposed to the red soil found elsewhere in Egypt. I suppose that is fine as one explanation (it wouldn't be the first time a country was known according to some feature of its geography or geology; Bahrain, Guatemala, Chad, etc. are all named likewise), though it tends to bother some Afrocentrist authors who take it to be a "whitewashing" of Egypt's black African identity, which is another thing I have not seen among Copts, though I have yet to see any Afrocentrist literature written by Copts anyway, so that might be a moot point. At any rate no Coptic person I have met thinks of himself as "white", in the American sense of that word. I can virtually guarantee you that if you ask a Coptic person "What does it mean to be Coptic? Who are the Copts?", they will answer "Egyptian", not "black", "white", "brown", etc. That's what I meant when I wrote that "kemi" meaning "black" is not a claim about skin color for Coptic people. It's really not thought of in that way.

    Anyway, "Remnkemi" is a compound word made up of "Rem" (or in some dialects "Rom" or "Lom") meaning "man" or "person" -- e.g., one of the words we used to refer to God in Coptic is "Pi-mai-romi", meaning "Lover of Mankind". The n- between 'Rem' and 'kemi' in the word is the genitive marker ('of'), so the whole word can be read as the phrase "Person/People of Egypt", or, if you will, "People of the Black Land/the Black Soil" (understood to mean Egypt).
     
  15. SuperCloud

    SuperCloud Newbie

    +225
    Seeker
    Single
    Gxg, I thought I could type out some long posts at times. I think you have me thoroughly beat. ^_^

    I've been reading over some of what you posted (links/vids) in the thread on guilt and fear of hell, as well as this thread. It's a lot though, so, I haven't really responded.

    With respects to this thread, thanks for some of that additional information on the ancestry of the Egyptians and the history of their varying phenotypes. Some of what you posted in this thread I was already more or less aware of--including about the lighter hued San people.

    Perhaps because I've only seen the lighter hued (more brownish or dark olive) Copts in photos and on youtube videos... maybe that's why I simply assumed the darker and black phenotypes of some of the ancient Egyptians no longer was an inherited phenotype trait. That was probably a stupid assumption, but I don't think I gave it much thought being all the way over here in the City of Milwaukee in the USA. I only recall one Egyptian I've met in Milwaukee and he was professor of developmental economics I had. He looked "Arab" to me. What we Americans of as Arab.

    dzheremi, I can see how Copts would have a different comprehension of what Copts are and how various terms like "black" are culturally constructed. I'm something of a slight Brazilophile and their views of "white" tend to be more encompassing of darker hues than we in the USA accept. Along similar lines their views of "black" tends to be as narrow as our views of "white" are. Furthermore, they like the rest of Latin America use the term "moreno" which encompasses phenotypes as diverse as the San people and Fulani of Africa to the brunettes of Italy. So, Brazilians like to say "All Brazilians are morneos." Albeit, that's not true given they have white blondes and very dark hued blacks in Brazil, both of whom do not fit in that broad "middle" of "moreno" as mestizos, Fulani, Chinese, and Arabs do.

    But that was a pretty good explanation you gave. Thanks.
     
  16. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

    +1,182
    Oriental Orthodox
    Private
    US-Others
    It depends on circumstance - long is long (and there are others who do more than me)

    One never needs to feel as if they need to respond to all things all at once - it's a matter of taking time for others and for differing people that are quick at processing all of what's present.
    A lot of things are based primarily on stereotypes we all have of other people - and for many, depending on how much they actually get around with things, their experience can be limited. It's like people assuming no Black people live in Wisconsin or up in the North-Western U.S - but a lot of that goes back to how we choose to see others.
     
Loading...