Arab Christian Heritage

Vital Presence of ChristianArabs Among Moslem Arabs

By Dr. Wajih Saadeh

Dr. Saadeh show in this article the great contribution of the ArabChristians, on different fields as the social, political,national,thinking,literature, Arab language etc looking from the "tower of the twentiethcentury" back

Previous centuries

If we look at previous centuries and back to ancient history, we seefrom the end of the twentieth century many events and unlimited numberof things taking place in one form or another, and leading us to wherewe are now. In this survey we remember names of men and women in history,places and cities that vanished or are still here. Also we remember dates,thoughts, battlefields, and conquests which were important and changedthe social structure of human society. In such a case, a historian or awriter can give the reader a clear outlook to these facts and the eventswhich stemmed from them, also we give these facts special, convenient andlogical historical analysis and interpretations.

From the tower of the twentieth century, or the end of the last decadeof it, we want to make a review to Arab history beginning of past timesto present, by way of Christian Arab presence and the effectiveness ofthis presence in the Arab society as a whole. Things look very clear aswe advance in life, and as scholars, authors and students of learning uncoveredso much in Arab history by way of research, writings, archeol-ogy and travel.

There is abundance of material in this historical search which we cannot handle when writing a few pages about any topic in history, or in thelearning process in general. It is my desire to concentrate in this writingon the Christian Arabs and their vital presence among their brethren theMoslem Arab majority. Also, let us not forget the impact of non- Arab Christianson Arab mind and behavior, though Christian Arabs had a unique status,and being a true positive factor in the make up of the Arab society asa whole.

The Christian Arab, a minority in the Arab society adds an essentialtouch to the Moslem Arab majority. Being in coordination and in association,the equalization of give and take between them enhanced in time and duration,and led to coherent mutual trust between them to become a bulwark and amoving force manifested in one destiny, and that is, of Arab independence,leading to norms and ideals for national unity. Christian Arab thinkingwas fundamental and positive in this order of circumstances.

The Christian Arab gives to his capable brethren a different keen farsightedness,different valid directions, and unique thoughts to public and state ofaffairs. Being in his Christian Arab milieu, the Christian Arab approachto things and events takes a different universal impression, differentpolitical dress, patience, and special directions and judgment, particularlyin facing and solving obstacles and problems, and more important in upbringingand in nurturing the human element. This Christian Arab thinking and behaviorare en-lightening to Arab society in general and at all times, they arebasic and constructive and well planned.

In modern times, Christian Arabs were the first to send their sons andspecially their daughters to schools and universities to learn and be enlightened.Arab Moslems followed suit. This is one of many examples. Arab Christiansopened significant cultural circles in Arab society, and being a continuouschain of actions and events, they will remain the torch bearers in futuredevelopments.

Christian Arabs were and are always good and sincere citizens, and neverbetrayed the Arab nation inspite their persecution for being Christians,at occasions in history. Similarly mistreated were the Assyrian and ChaldeanChristians and other minorities during Arab and Moslem rule. Even in theabsence of social justice and equality, all those Christian groups wouldnot separate themselves from the Arab nation. Arab Christians considerthemselves, truly, the essence of the Arab nation and Arab nationalismbe it now, or in past times during the Arab Christian kingdoms, of theGhassanids, the Montherits, or the Nabateans and Tadmurits (Palmyra) andothers. They, at all times, view themselves as essential part of theirgreat Arab nation and its national movement. They remained Arabs in thought,conviction, and in spirit. They continue to be an enlightening candle totheir brethren the Moslem Arabs, and worthy partners in the building ofArab society and in making of the factors that form a nation. They alwaysmade successful endeavors in serving the Arab nation, and in giving theirlove, their best advice and plan, to advance the cause and the unity ofthe Arab nation.

Though many Christian Arabs and eastern Christians like Assyrians, Chaldeansand others left the Arab countries to the Americas, or Australia and otherareas, due to religious intolerance or persecution or for living opportunities,the fact is, they remained faithful and are still bent in their love totheir origin and to the land they had to leave. Meanwhile, the Arab worldis kindled with a religious intolerance which is elec-trifying our atmosphereand the air we breathe, and in consequence, christian families began leavingtheir houses and properties to find new abodes far away from the countryof their origin. What a pity, to reach a dangerous and inhuman state ofemergency.

Let there be love among the Arabs, let them be more attentive. Let therebe equality and social justice among the Arabs, otherwise they are donewith, for the danger is domiciling in every corner of Arab society. Thislast decade of the twentieth century is a period of life and death to theArab nation, and without unity, love and resolve, we will never succeedin preserving our sacred land and honor, or to be able to overstep thedangers and obstacles this nation is facing. The enemy of this nation,like any other enemy, is fierce and knows no mercy, and world history foretellsof many inhuman actions and cruelty in wars and international disputes.

Arab countries are in a state of shock due to the scheme of their thinkingand belief and close to desperation for they try to remedy the problemsfacing them with the wrong medicine. They must change their thinking anddirections, their approach to world problems and their social behaviorand the routine of their daily life, and without which they shall remainunder international control and separated, and under international pressureand subdued. The Arab states must separate religion from state. The stateis to serve social, political and economic purposes, or material things.The state is to rule. Religion is to serve and fulfill the faith, or spiritualthings. Religion is to worship God. The combination of both makes religiona political instrument in the hand of the ruler who is a political creature,and religion therefore becomes an ideology like liberalism, socialism orcommunism. The only set up that advances Arab society and improves itsstanding is the separation of relig-ion from state. "Give what isfor God to God, and what is for Caesar to Caesar."

In Islam, religion and state are combined, and that combination is distortingMoslem approach to daily life and to social and international problems.

This combination is affecting the spirituality of Islam, and thus seversits extension and stretch from Christianity, to remain in itself a politicalendeavor.