A controversial statement made by an Egyptian scholar has left several Christian people in the country fuming. According to Russia Today, the Egyptian cleric named Dr. Salem Abdel Galil made the controversial remark on a TV show beamed live on a local television network. In the TV show, he is reportedly heard claiming that Prophet Mohammed would marry Mary, the mother of Jesus, in heaven. The video, which aired earlier this month, has since then been uploaded to YouTube. While we have embedded the video clip below, do note that the entire statement was made in Arabic. The video clip is an excerpt from a program titled “Muslims are asking.”
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According to reports, the Dr. Salem also happens to be a scholar from the prestigious Al-Azhar University in Cairo — which is Egypt’s oldest degree-granting university and is better known as “Sunni Islam’s most prestigious university” with over 2 million students on its rolls. The Russia Today report translated the entire controversial statement to English. We have reproduced the translation “as is.”
“There were only four perfect women. Maryam [Mary], with whom it began; and Asiya, the wife of the Pharaoh; and Khadija bint Khuwaylid [the first wife of the Prophet]; and Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet. Peace and prayers to her and our prophet. The Prophet himself pointed to the high position of Maryam. And can I belittle her position, saying it only refers to a specific time and place? No! She was chosen among the wives of both worlds. Four women were chosen with Maryam. And Maryam is the first among them! And she will be the wife of our favorite Mohammed in heaven, and she will be the first to enter heaven together with the greatest prophets. And not just with the prophets, but with the greatest prophets!”
After the program was aired and it was uploaded to social media websites, Galil’s comments drew sharp criticism from members of Egypt’s Christian minority community. Several Christian leaders from the country demanded that Dr. Salem apologize for his remarks. Nader Soubhi, of the Christian Youth Movement for Orthodox Copts, issued a statement that he said was on behalf of all the Christians living in Egypt.
“We Christians don’t recognize any aspect of the Virgin Mary except her sanctity, her purity and her virginity. The Virgin Mary will never lose any of these.”
As is the case with the Bible, Mary also happens to be a revered figure in Islam. However, several Islamic scholars have, in the past, too suggested that Mary would become the wife of Prophet Mohammed in the afterlife. What is pertinent to note here is that none of the Islamic texts from the Koran or the Hadiths have suggested such a relationship between the two revered figured.
This latest controversy is expected to renew existing tensions between Egypt’s Sunni Muslim majority population and the minority Coptic Christians who form 10 percent of the population. Violence against Christians in Egypt has been on the rise after Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was overthrown in 2013. In the most recent incident, 27 people, almost every one of them Christians, were killed in a bomb blast at a Coptic cathedral in Cairo.
Funeral service for martyrs of a Sunday cathedral bombing, at the Virgin Mary Church in Cairo, Egypt. 12/12/2016. pic.twitter.com/fKi7ANKVVw
— RgCh (@rguezcheca) December 12, 2016
The attack was later confirmed to be carried out by members of the Islamic State. The Christian community in Egypt has been also been, in the recent past, accused of siding with the military.
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