The Copts – Part XI

Khalil further explains that: "al-Awa condemns Coptic Pope Shenouda's opposition to the imposition of sharia on the Copts, and the discussion of its details, saying: 'With regard to specific issues raised by Pope Shenouda regarding sharia and its implementation, his dealing with these issues means admitting that he is entitled to discuss the subject of the Islamic sharia and its laws. We do not agree that Pope Shenouda, or any other non-Muslim, may do this. According to Al-Awa, the Copts are infidels. In his book, al-Awa states that the Koran determines that those of ahl al-kitabare infidels."

However, Khalil sarcastically explained that, "although we are infidels, a Muslim man can marry a Christian woman whom he likes, because a Muslim man is entitled to marry a Christian or Jewish woman who believes in her religion without getting into the details of her faith.  But a Muslim woman is absolutely prohibited from marrying a Christian or a Jewish man. First, this is because he rejects her religion, and second, because of the principle of guardianship. The Muslim man must be the guardian in the relationship, and because the man is the guardian of the woman, a non-Muslim man must not have guardianship over a Muslim woman. Similarly, the Muslim man must be uppermost in bed..."

In this context, Khalil added that, even regarding neighborly relations, al-Awa determines that "it is preferable to have a Muslim for a neighbor than a non-Muslim. Similarly, if one of a child's parents is a Muslim, the child is also considered Muslim, since a non-Muslim does not have legal authority over a Muslim. Al-Awa refuses to give the Copts a fair part in the media so that their partners in the homeland will recognize their religion. He sees this [i.e. Copts in the media] as missionary activity - which is prohibited in an Islamic country: 'The state must not give in to the demands that are sometimes heard to permit Christian religious preaching in the government media. This is because Egypt is a Muslim country according to its constitution, and the Islamic sharia is the primary source for legislation. The Copts are entitled to preach only in their churches, amongst their co-religionists, and in their own neighborhoods'."

Aladdin Elaasar is author of The Last Pharaoh: Mubarak and the Uncertain Future of Egypt in the Obama Age (Excerpts from The Last Pharaoh in this article by permission of Beacon Press). Email: [email protected]

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