Monthly Archives: November 2015

It is such a sad news…

Feminism. Islam. liberalism … has lost with the loss of this great woman…

Rest in Peace…


Middle Eastern Christianity and Islamic Philosophy: Mutual Influences and Polemic Midterm paper: Book Review Book Title: The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque: Christians and Muslims in the World of Islam Author: Sidney H. Griffith In “The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque”, Griffith offers a major highlight on understanding the reality of relations between Christians and Muslims in the Muslim milieu from the time of Mohammad (PBUH) until the Mongol conquest. Griffith observes Christians as an indigenous population that comprised what could have summed to more than half of the total inhabitants in particular times and places along the Islamic conquered territories. He provides the reader with an informational package about Christianity in the East within an attractive exploration inside Christian theological and ecclesiological visions within an illuminating historical context of many of the controversial points between the faiths. During the first century after the death of the Prophet, Christians living in the territories under Islamic rule, eventually adopted Arabic language. This resulted in opening a public channel of communication with the Muslims about religion and culture. A conversation that took both direct and indirect moves. Griffith examines the cultural and intellectual life of indigenous Christians in the Islamic world, describing their challenges and reactions to the new religion, in which he argues that Islam was one of the most persistent problems to be faced by Christian Arabic writers was the challenge of how to express the distinctive teachings of Christianity in an Arabic idiom in which the religious vocabulary had already acquired substantial Islamic overtones. The author aims to show that interreligious dialogue existed, in spite its rather explanatory views more often, in which it resulted in a unique experience of religious and theological communication. The book consists of a preface that portrays a more than two decades journey in its making. In the introduction, Griffith conveys his primary objective in the writing of this work in which he aims to explain to the Western Christian of this day the unknown and often ignored the reality of Christianity in the Eastern Arab dominated world. Defining the Christian Arabs and their origins as well as their belonging to the territory of indigenous people. Explaining as well the development of Arabic Christianity from the early centuries of Islam until the Mongol Conquests. The book itself is nicely produced and includes an impressive bibliography that proves the intensive and attentive work that has been employed in the production of the work. The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque is divided into seven chapters in which a summary of events is presented and offers the different stages in the middle-eastern history of the Church as well as names, dates, and places we need to know, as well as the theological tides that flowed throughout the dialogue and interaction that took place between Christians and Muslims in the early centuries of Muslim domination of the East. The book begins with a short preface and an introduction. The presentation describes the state of mis-presentation of Eastern Christianity in the West through decades of orientalist studies that persisted on portraying the Arab Christians as oppressed vulnerable minorities. All of the Christian communities who lived within the world of Islam in the early Islamic period strove to cultivate good relations with Muslims at the same time that both in Arabic and in their own languages they clearly marked the differences between the two creeds. Their immediate purpose in much of their writing about Islam was to forestall Christian conversions to Islamic faith, nevertheless, their acculturation into the Arabic speaking Islamic commonwealth inevitably resulted in a measure of Arabicization and even Islamicization in their fiction, both in Arabic and in their native languages, as they strove to find an everyday discourse between themselves and those who posed the major local challenge to their faith. These developments as well seemed to have played a role in the estrangement of Oriental Christians from their coreligionists in the West and outside of the world of Islam. The first chapter presents the soul of the book. Griffith speaks about Christians and Jews as People of the Book in the Quran. He emphasized their presence as being in the audience of the Quran that first addressed the “word of God” in a clear Arabic tongue as well as being directly dealt with in some places. Griffith mentions the Quran critique to Christianity by objecting Christian behavior as well as accusing them of changing the words of the Bible. Griffith ensures in this chapter, that regardless of all considerations, that in the lifetime of Mohammad, and in the provisions of the Quran; Jews, Christians, and Muslims have had a warrant for dialogue since the very birth of Islam. But its lack of productivity is a result of studying history from the perspective of the Christians who lived outside the world of Islam. In the same chapter, he gives a brief outline of Christian’s life development and diminishment over the centuries under Muslim rules since the conquest of the Levant, and the risks and challenges of living under Islamic rule as well as the Christian responses to occurring problems. Griffith emphasizes that the history of Christians under Muslim rule is a history of continuous diminishment over the centuries. The numbers declined from a substantial majority of the population in many places I nth conquered territories in the times before crusades, to significant minorities in most of the Islamic world by the Ottoman times. He explicitly considers the social conditions of Christians under Muslim rule as one factor of this gradual diminishing.The Pact of Omar, the Jizya and the Dhimmi position that made Christians become second-class citizens. All these resulted in the course of time to the gradual decrease in monasteries, and schools. In response, Christians developed a discourse of accommodation and a discourse of resistance. On the one hand they attempted to compose a philosophical or religious discourse in Arabic for the sake of a clearer and more efficient, apologetic statement of their Christian faith in their Islamic circumstances, and on the other hand, they also produced a Christian Arabic literature of resistance and martyrdom, with a more polemical intent. In Chapter Two, Griffith sketches the first challenge of belief between Christianity and Islam in the Apocalypse. He explains the Christian responses from the early centuries of Islam and its development into apologetic forms. In chapter three and four, Griffith illustrates an essential overview of the development of Christian theology in Arabic and Ecclesiastical Arabic, which included the adoption of Arabic as the church language. In this chapter, he introduces the major Christian thinkers and theologians as well schools of theology that worked on the challenges of Islam. Griffith develops a profile of the shape of Christian faith in Arabic and the strategies of the discourse adopted in the worlds. He also takes another opportunity even within the sectarian milieu of the early Islamic period and despite the struggling of Christian and Jewish thinkers to present their distinctive religious claims in relationship to the challenges posed by one another, and often in what one can only call a Judaizing, Christianizing or Islamicizing discourse depending on the individual case. Christians came to adopt Arabic not only the lingua franca o daily life in the caliphate, but even as an ecclesiastical language. Christians and Jews were faced with the apologetic necessity, that was also an opportunity, both for Islamicizing, the Arabic expression for their Jewish and Christian teachings and both Christianizing and Judaizing the current Islamic discourse devoted to reasoned argumentation in defense of the right religion. Over the next two chapters, Griffith illustrates Christian Philosophy in Baghdad whereas translation movement undertook a prominent role in Baghdad between the eighth and tenth centuries, in times when philosophical, scientific, and substantial texts were systematically being translated from Greek, Syriac, and Pahlavi into Arabic. This resulted in an enterprise that brought the learning of ancient Greece and Persian to the new world of Islam, together with the knowledge of ancient Greece and Persia to the new world of Islam. It also became the impetus for new developments in philosophy itself in the Arab world, and for a new appreciation of the philosophical way of life, which some Christians and Muslim intellectuals together thought could become the vehicle for a more fruitful dialogue between members of different religious communities in the caliphate. The last chapter comprises the heart of the book; Griffith searches for the theological, historical, and cultural postures Christians might now reasonably assume in their continuing encounter with Muslims, in the light of the lessons learned from the thought and experience of the Arabic-speaking Oriental churches in the early centuries of Islam. He does admit that the lessons of history on this point do not offer grounds for heightened expectations, but the alternative to making the effort to make things better is already well known and mutually destructive. Griffith affirms that most Arabic Christian writers in the formative period of Islamic history strove to translate and to clarify the doctrines and distinctive confessional formulas of their several denominations in their Arabic treatises and tracts, rather than to rethink in the Islamic milieu how best to articulate the Christian message anew. It was as well, that the several denominations of the Christians in the Middle East actually came into full and enduring expression of their identities as distinct Christian communities during the Islamic rule. Griffith raises an important question on whether or not the Arabicization of Christianity in the early Islamic period has paved the way for a clash of theologies more than it offered the newly Arabic speaking Christians an opportunity for new developments in the presentation and expression of their most basic doctrines. According to Griffith it is certainly true that a clash of theologies characterized the relationships between Muslims and Christians in early Islamic period from one side. Early Christian apologetic texts in Arabic clearly show their debt to the methods and manners of the Muslim Mutakallimun as well as to the list of their conventional topics of conversation from another side. This resulted on a deeper level, in the formative period of Islamic thoughts in the Abbasid era, before the disruptive incursions into the Arab world from both the Mongol east and the Latin west in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, there really was in some measure a community of discourse about religion between Muslims and Christians in spite of the clash of their theologies, and in spite of the civil and social disabilities under which Christians, together with the Jews and other religious minorities lived. In spite of the clash of theologies that the Jewish and Christian adoption of Arabic in the early Islamic period made evident with Islamic world itself, the underlying sibling relationship and history of commonality between the three communities of faith are also unmistakable. This history’s claim to the imperative ground for interreligious dialogue between Jews Christians and Muslims seems to be unimpeachable, particularly as it is a fact that even though the long centuries of mutual hostilities the fortunes of the three communities have become if anything even more inextricably intertwined. While the Quran definitely offers a critique of Jews, Christians and others in term of the actual state of their religions, it also presumes in its audience a familiarity with biblical narratives, as well as with other aspects of Jewish and Christian lore, faith, and practice. Griffith emphasizes that the Quran envisions a continuous dialogue between Muslims and Christians and while discussion, understood as a simply conversation between two or more partners, is not always agreeable or friendly, it is nevertheless communication. The Quran was obviously a major text in the world of the Arabophone Christians, and in their works one can distinguish two levels of its presence. On the one hand, and without any pertinent comment by them on the phenomenon, their Christian Arabic texts are replete with words and phrases from the Quran that had entered the common parlance of the Arabic from the Quran that had entered the common parlance of the Arabic speaking people long before the time when Christians living in the conquered territories adopted the Arabic language. On the other hand, some Arab Christian writers explicitly discussed the Quran and quoted from it. Some of them depicted the Quran as a flawed scripture and they detailed its shortcomings. Others, in the course of their arguments with Muslims, appealed to texts from the Quran, sometimes citing it by name, sometimes not, they mentioned it both in witness of the truth of their polemics against Islam and even in testimony to the truth of the Christian positions they were defending. In the final assessment, Griffith contributes a great deal to an understanding not just of the famous role Christians played in the philosophical and translation movement among others in the Islamic milieu through providing access to a comprehensive field of study in Christian theology that is not open to regular \non specialist readers, but also offers a full understanding of the rise of Islam in its early years from the perspective of contemporary non-Muslims, in a reminder to the Western reader that there is much to learn from the works of people who seriously engaged Muslims in their world so long ago. An encounter that needs to continue to be involved in interfaith dialogue.

Feeling gratitude

It has been a real long while that I woke up in the morning dragged myself to work, listened to my piano fabulous recitals, and thought: what a blessed life I have.

For the last year, I was dragged into a depression that was dark, but yet, I didn’t have any option but to survive. Being a mother is too much of that non-stop triggering feeling have: pull back, you are not alone.

I don’t know what happened to make me wake up this morning with this attitude. And it is not easy to point directly to what threw me into depression. In both cases two major things triggered the path, one was a disappointment, and the other was hope. Last year, when my supervisor accused me of plagiarism for a paper that I worked so hard on, I felt disappointment, injustice, shame and all the conspiracy ideas that may have flown over my head, but it was worse despair. There was this feeling that pulled me so hard into an edge where I felt that whatever I do I am always swallowed into the hole of the hurricane. It coincided with marking ten years of my divorce, and somewhere it dwelled on me. I couldn’t but reflect, and couldn’t but ask myself, what happened? Where am I standing? What did I achieve and what did I lose. I was expecting a lot of rewards on my decade entry of surviving what seemed impossible for a whole ten years. But suddenly it all felt gloomy, and somehow everything wasn’t working; my studies, where I was thinking that I am putting my fingers towards a point of something I want fell all in front of me like shattering glass. My work went into the worse place ever, the change of presidency and administration, my not best strategic approach gaining the reputation of being trouble didn’t serve at a time the university was changing its president who didn’t like me at all. My ex who seemed to have recharged his energy in evilness and cruelty declared new wars and more financial problems resulted and more stress on the children. Emotionally, I was already suffering from a break up of quite a long relationship that I didn’t break up from, and I didn’t decide to stay. Some feeling of being used or dumped were surrounding my gloomy air. It was not an exaggeration to say, that every single thing I touched in those months turned into rejection or negativeness. It felt so suppressive; I reached to a level was I couldn’t handle anything anymore. I was receiving a rejection into anything I applied for. As if there was this force that was insisting to challenge me and to make sure I break down too many pieces.

Amid all this some positive things remained and increased actually, my son was practically back to me after his father intentions in dumping him as he got closer to eighteen and was convinced that the boy cannot have a chance in further education as a result of his dyslexia and learning difficulties. The other thing was blogging.

My son remains a very sensitive issue within me. It is true that I managed his going to his father a few years back with what I called great wisdom from my side. For the very first time in my life, I used knowledge over emotions. I just focused on one thing: keeping him safe. My emotions towards him were suppressed for years, believing very deep inside me, that he will back. All the love I poured on him for years with every single breath cannot go away. It was so challenging, and at the same time, it was a blink of good and evil winning. He was back with more of a challenge, working on all the destruction the father did, and the real problem of what can happen in his future and education. All that I had was having him back. Financial challenges were rising. Having four children with one in a university abroad and other three with a lifestyle of elites in this city was something far from my reach as a woman with an average salary. My secret provider was the bank. And still is. It is true that I am a person who lives on loans. But honestly, the best friend one can have is the bank. Regardless of all the benefit, he receives. At least the bank is the only “person” whom when you approach him doesn’t ask you why, or give you a hard time, and tell you to let me think, and of course, nothing comes out except the sentence: why isn’t the father paying. He should.


The other part was writing. Writing kept me alive in many ways. Blogging on the other level made me feel that I existed. There is this line of support that blogging offers through the network that is created by anonymous people who genuinely believe you and reach out of you, without knowing you or wanting anything from you. There was this touch of humanity that individuals in this sense gave me in many ways indirectly and directly.

Between these two things, my children were excellent. It was one of the most critical times as a mother, feeling the support and love of my kids. These kids crowned me on a throne that was so special and unique … it only fitted me, and it only filled me with an unbelievable amount of power and love.

Amid the destruction that was taking place, I felt like walking out along a world war aftermath. I was collecting every single left opportunity and grasping to it and making a cloud of chance in it to start rearranging my falling skies.

In order to survive the humiliation of a plagiarized stigma, I started writing another paper, with a different topic somehow, and with a generous support with my other supervisor, whose genuine feelings of support to my work and to me was making alto of difference to me, with his very little words and conservative approach. I started working with still too many emotions of rage, but yet something new was developing. If you know this feeling when you work on a paper and you are taken by all the technicalities and frameworks to meet the requirements, and in the middle of that you have a passing moment that tells you: if I were to write it again I would have done this or that? As much as I was proud of my previous paper, that truly had some problems with plagiarized sentences that I didn’t know about, but I yet, it was an excellent piece of work by all those who views it. And I am talking academic viewers. And somehow, everyone thought that the accusation was too harsh and something strange took place. As I am putting this behind me, I will never forgive my supervisor for what he did. But he did teach me a lesson in perfectionism. Sometimes you maybe a person who is not deemed for mistakes. And apparently, I am one of those. Somewhere, the opportunity that came out in rewriting was a gift to me. First, I wrote the new thesis with an entirely new spirit; it was I writing. And that I was so scared to appear in the first one. I felt more of ready and mature. I knew exactly what I wanted to write about, and my skills in writing and research have definitely developed.

At the same time, the support I received in the other paper, by viewers after fixing the mistakes (the crimes) he mentioned, which was, of course, easy because he was too precise, was overwhelming by friends who worked in academia from many places around the world, and somehow the fact that the work was supervised by two people, one decided it was plagiarized and the other had a contrasting opinion, didn’t question the reliable of both, but somehow in the world of academia, it shed light on the styles, and limitations when it comes to something as tough as plagiarism.

Anyway. Whatever it was, it managed to drag me to the worse depression I encountered in my life. And I didn’t believe I would survive.

Despair is worse than anything … you can wear a smile, go to a party, get dressed, hang out … but when you are in that cycle nothing get you out … I imagined myself deciding to kill myself after a great dinner or a fun hangout. Which I didn’t at that time … I became isolated and closed to myself; I started questioning the whole concept of friendship. You can count tens of friends, and in such times you realize that you are all alone…

My blessing was invaluable… with four loving children and two adorable dogs.

As the complexed person in me cannot change, I decided to write the thesis for the other MA I was enrolled in for years and was taking on very slow motion avoiding an obsessive coordinator and teacher who actually made me stop and lose any interest in acquiring anything related to that program. But at some point, I stopped and thought: who is he to make you throw away two real years of work. That nagging side in me was digging, and it was not easy to face it. To go back to a program where I have to deal with the person that sits on my nerves and yet challenge him that this is my right.

If you already think I must be troubled, which I am. Please consider why such people stand on the side when I make decisions of coming back.

Living in a society where being a woman is an indication of weakness. You can image what being a divorced woman means. And when an Arab man decides that he wants you, because he is the macho, the superior existing hero of all times, or to you poor divorced woman, mid-aged with many children, you should just fall down to your knees and pray day and night to thank heaven and earth that, that man, that great man decided that he wanted you …

There is something wrong in precisely Arab men in their attitude. Of course, understand completely. And of course, men are practically the same. But the patriarchal set up of an Arab man is absolutely “ unique.” The poor people actually suffer, thinking of their great offers in “coming down” to a woman with such circumstances as disturbing and unacceptable as being divorced and not only that, with one, tow, three, four children. And not exactly with an astounding beauty.

Starting to write another thesis on an entirely different topic of interest, but at the same time with petite information and knowledge was too challenging.

In the middle of all this. Along a period of almost a year, I was writing two theses, with two real challenging topics (still waiting for the mercy of supervisors to review).

I have to admit that reading, and in many ways, acquiring knowledge about some issues that I took for granted forever, has been a whole journey of maturity if this is a word I may use in this sense.

Along the depression, it couldn’t get worse than finding a mouse in the house… and my phobia with mice is not an exaggeration …but it needed my system to encounter a mouse to have all my wires reconnecting again. The screams that I only remember in the last cries of giving birth were faced with seeing a mouse. It didn’t see actually because I cannot see him. Spotting him was enough. I have to say there was a glance of an eye contact, and the monster must have been wired with my screams because I remembered him jumping along the waves of my voice.

More tests came along; my son finished school with not a clue what to do. No money, no grades, no place that can understand or help.

I think if I ever concentrated my prayers on something, it was on him going to the University and studying what he loves. I swear, if miracles existed, it became real with that wish.

I should, of course, have intensified my prayers more into asking for expenses cover with that. When he was accepted to a good university with exactly what he wished for, I was crashed with the problem of financial issues, where I naively again, didn’t think that is father will turn his back from. After all, this is a family achievement. But that man never seized to amaze me in how much of a stupid bastard he apparently will remain…

One crisis after the other. With one ray of light opened in the middle of the darkness to another, attempting to grasp it all and make a star inside that sky of mine. He made. The kids made it at school, with all the activities they want without the restrictions and needs of a man who doesn’t realize that the love of a child is millions of times worth more than what any money can provide. A daughter who is successfully getting close to her graduation from university. With two drafts of theses that I am so proud of still awaiting the mercy of supervisors to approve, and constant attempts of trying to find a job that can pay for my loans and more. And on top of all. The brightness of an upcoming horizon of something I am not sure of … something that is coming out of writing. With each new follower, or viewer, or comment, I feel fulfilled with hope, that yes, I am here, and people are there to read and connect. In this year, of the gloomiest despair, my articles were published in many media and news outlets in Palestine and around the world. I was thrilled with the Huffington post asking for my items. A major magazine in Egypt and my childish excitement is indescribable when I click to my article on a major Arab newspaper, and my photo appears next to him most famous Arab columnist for the last twenty years.

And to make my media excitement overwhelming … seeing that an article of mine receives 17k shares in two days (it would have needed two decades generally)

I felt dancing on the clouds and embracing the stars I have been creating for the whole year in my imagination.

With each word I receive that carries: Nadia we are reading you. Please go on. I feel that life has more to offer than what we usually see.

I have been laying my head on the pillow for the last few months, thinking of all the great things I have been blessed with, being healthy and my kids. Seeing them growing and making it through the path of a life well and on their own. Being showered with their love. Being blessed with knowing real great people that have marked a lot in the welfare of this country and the world, who have been supportive with things as high a word and a hug.

I feel great with each time I try. Each time I attempt to move forward even inside a path that is only a dream. I no longer wait for a man who will give me the love that will fill me. The job that will provide me. The appreciation that I feel I deserve.

, I don’t need any of all those things anymore … I feel like I have it all.  I still want to feel the love, and have the opportunity… but somewhere now I believe it will come on its own. When time is right…

I feel like saying. To all…

Thank you.

I am grateful. And I am just filled with gratitude to all. God is out there in many ways… not just watching or taking naps. Happiness comes from small daily gifts that fill our lives .we just need to breathe them in.

This should be my Thanksgiving prayers and review)