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WRONG COPTIC RESPONSES TO NATIONAL CHALLENGES

September 10, 2015

The Coptic historian must be interested in studying responses of the Copts to challenges that face the nation. The lay Copts must be aware of them. The Copts have often responded to national challenges in the wrong way, and such responses have resulted in devastating effects on the following generations. Here, I mention just two, and I have no doubt that the reader will think of a few more:

1. When we were faced by the first signs of the Arabisation of the Copts in the Middle Ages, and the Coptic clerks in the service of the Islamic state and traders learned Arabic and neglected Coptic even in their own households, our greatest concern was that Copts understood their religion, which was mainly written and explained in Coptic, no more. Their response was not to emphasise the importance of learning Coptic and taking a special care to teach it to their children, so that at least they could understand their religion: no, they chose to Arabise even more – they translated religious scripture into Arabic, spoke Arabic in Church, and put aside Coptic books.

That was one of the greatest mistakes to the Arabisation challenge to our nation’s language and identity.

2. The second example is related: Muslims persecuted and oppressed us – our difference inwardly and outwardly made us easy target to mistreatment by the Muslims. So, what was our response as a nation? Assimilation, outwardly, first, and then inwardly, slowly but surely: so, we spoke like them; changed our names to theirs; dressed like them; circumcised our children like them; ran our families like them: veiled our women, treated them as inferior to men, bought slave girls and used them for sex, divorced our wives for extra-Biblical reasons, gave our daughters half the share of inheritance our sons got; learned hypocrisy, trickery, cowardice, avarice, infighting and other misbehaviour that greatly harmed our nation and Church; and at last, converted to Islam completely.

This response started seriously in the Middle Ages, but we see it in action even today.  Again, wrong response: the right response should have been to stick to our national culture and identity, while all the time working for equality and freedom.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. magic174 permalink
    September 10, 2015 1:05 pm

    HI Dioscorus,
    I am real follower to your blog and I am always interested in the Coptic from history point and religious point as well.
    I disagree with you for part of the point two. My name is Magid and it is an Arabic name, your name is Dioscorus and it is most properly a Greek name that carried out from the time when Egypt occupied by the Greek and Roman. So, it is natural to try to wear cloth similar to the occupant and take names similar to their as this will ease your daily life. But what I think you are definitely right that we didn’t keep to use the language in our home and with our children. I think this as a result of the suppression and prosecution through the decades.

    • Dioscorus Boles permalink*
      September 10, 2015 2:05 pm

      Thanks for your contribution. I understand what you are saying to some extent; but when your rulers are oppressive and out there to get rid of your culture, your first duty is to resist that, and stick even more to what makes you the person you are.

      I do think the Copts should have resisted any assimilation to their Islamic rulers; and that, of course, includes retaining their distinctive names.

      Regards.

  2. September 11, 2015 12:58 am

    I AGREE WITH YOU 100%. EXCEPT ONE THING CIRCUMCISION OF BOYS THE COPTS PRACTICE IT SINCE ANCIENT TIMES FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS. BUT ABOUT GIRLS, INEED TO RESEARCH IT.BUT I DOUT IT.

    • Dioscorus Boles permalink*
      September 11, 2015 1:13 am

      Thank you! Please, read my articles on the Copts and ircumcision to know that circumcision was introduced to the Copts in the Middle Ages in assimilation to the Muslims.

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