Jesuit News Around the World
Being Christian By Raed Awaad
in an Arab-Islamic World
Founded in 1989, the Jesuit Center is helping Arab Christians of Jordan in the traditional churches (Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic and Greek Orthodox) to reflect on their faith and to deepen their life with God. The current world climate shows that there is a great need for both. In general, these two areas could be described as theological and spiritual. In the Arab, Islamic culture, religion has little depth with regard to reflection and interiority. This cultural characteristic describes the Christians as much as the Muslims. We have often asked ourselves how we should enter this culture and try to expand or deepen it. The main reason we think we have something to give here is that without a developed reflection and interiority the Arab culture is not able and will not be able to deal with the onslaught of the modern world, especially the Western world. To be a Christian in an Arab-Islamic world, especially in the Middle East, is both a challenge and an opportunity. It is a challenge because Christians trying to live their beliefs, values and convictions sometimes may not fit fully within their societies. Unfortunately, political disagreements, renewing regimes and the rising of Salafis (advocating an ultra-conservative form of Islam) are new events which Christians and moderate Muslims have to address in the
future. Christian values such as love, forgiveness and loving one’s neighbor are at stake. How can Christians love those who hate them? How can they accept those who deny their right to live? As things get worse, those questions will arise and be questioned more and more. On the other hand, to be a Christian in this chaotic atmosphere is an opportunity. There is a famous Arabian saying: “Only in the darkest night do you discover the importance of the full moon.” I think the role of our center is to bring the light of Jesus to those who are still living their darkest nights. Spiritual nights, intellectual nights and financial crisis nights need to be illumined by the touch of God and we, at the Jesuit Center, can be the tool of God’s touch. Christians in Jordan are in an active relationship with their Muslim fellows. This interaction leads to dialogue on different levels: daily life dialogue, beliefs dialogue and human dialogue. In our workshops we try to address those three levels. What does it mean to be human?
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