SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Some huddle in conclave before announcing their decision in a puff of smoke. Others ballot church dignitaries and pray for the wisdom to elect the right leader.
Not so the Coptic church, which on Sunday selected its new pope by getting a blindfolded boy to pick a name from a bowl. The winner, Bishop Tawadros, became Pope Tawadros II. By a quirk of fate, it also happened to be his birthday.
They call it the altar lottery, and it's how the Coptic Orthodox church has been selecting its heads since the 18th century. After the death of Pope Shenouda III in March, candidates from within the church put themselves forward for a lengthy selection process in which 2,500 prominent Christians from both inside and outside the church whittled them down to first five and finally three candidates.
The other two were the auxiliary bishop of central Cairo, Bishop Raphael, and Father Raphael Ava Mina, a monk at the St Mina monastery near Alexandria. Even after the boy had picked out Tawadros's name, the other two names had to be picked out of the bowl too, to ensure transparency of the process.
Sherif Azer, a Coptic Christian and human rights advocate who has been critical of the church's recent political stances, told the Guardian: "The idea behind it is to invoke divine intervention, which doesn't fit with the concept of a democratic election. Some active church members have already discussed reviewing the process, but I don't think this issue will be brought up anytime soon as the pope will serve for a lifetime."
Tawadros is to be officially enthroned on 18 November, but speaking from the monastery where he lives in the Nile delta governorate of Beheira, he told the assembled throng: "The other two candidates were more deserving than me. I put myself in the hands of Christ, who is the true leader of the church."
The new pope will have his hands full in the corporeal realm as he takes over a church that has not yet fully come to terms with the death of Pope Shenouda III, after four decades at the helm, and amid continued sectarian attacks against Christians in Egypt.
Christian blogger Amira Mikhail told the Guardian: "The new pope is entering into a position that places him in a similar situation that each pope has had to deal with in the past, but this time with much higher tension. In general, all high profile Christian leaders are faced with the constant decision between being politically and religiously sensitive to the majority religion [Islam] and the government, and also what is best for the Christian minority group. In the past and quite unfortunately, this balance has not always been found."
His predecessor had always toed a line close to the state, seeing it as the only bulwark against increased Islamist fanaticism and sectarian tensions. This came to a head during what came to be known as theMaspero massacre in October 2011, when 27 Christian protesters were killed by soldiers who opened fire on them and ran over them with military vehicles.
The church's refusal to condemn the ruling military junta led to criticism from within the Coptic Christian community and from revolutionary forces outraged at the silence emanating from the pope.
In a nod to the delicate balancing act he will have to perform as the new leader of the church, Tawadros said: "At this time, we would like to thank the state and the media who paid great attention to this lovely event and have shown us great affection."
Azer said: "I think the new pope has two options: either be outspoken and make the church the official representative of the Copts, openly demanding their rights, or remove the church completely from the political realm." www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says the world is in transition toward a “new political, economic and social structure and geometry,” which involves a balance in power.
“The direction of the future world developments is … toward the transfer of the general powers and capabilities of some parts of world nations to other parts,” Ayatollah Khamenei noted in a meeting with academics and researchers on Sunday.
Ayatollah Khamenei said the sweeping wave of Islamic Awakening across the region and the failure of the West, led by the US, to dominate West Asia are two signs of the coming new world order.
“America’s unsuccessful leap for dominating this important and sensitive region, which became evident in the cases of Iraq and Afghanistan, is one of the other signs of the deep changes that the world is facing.”
“Europe’s status quo, which will finally bring it down, stems not from tactical or strategic errors but from a fundamental flaw in worldview,” the Leader added.
Ayatollah Khamenei said the decline of the US is the fourth sign, indicating that the world is witnessing a transition into a new state.
“As a leading power in wealth, science as well as military and non-military technology, the US had a very good public image among the nations; however, today, this country not only does not have that credit, but has turned into the symbol for bullying, oppression, interference in other nation’s affairs and warmongering.”
Ayatollah Khamenei added that the Iranian nation plays a very important and sensitive role in this transitional phase.
“Contrary to the infertile West, the Islamic Republic has new and wave-inducing suggestions for the human community in various political, administrative, ethical, cultural, social and economic spheres,” the Leader said.
“Iran, its elites and officials resist the Western threats, warmongering, assassinations, mass killing, and divisive [policies] and this reality has conferred a special prominent on this country.”—www.shafaqna.com/english
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Fasting for long hours, Canadian Muslims are trying to adapt their work in the blistering summer heat without food and water during the holy month of Ramadan.
“The most challenging part of Ramadan is that I can’t taste my food,” Rafi Raphael Taherie, a chef at Free Times Café, told The Globe And Mail.
“Normally I’m not the type of chef to have a spoon in my pocket every minute to taste, but still it’s pretty tough to not taste food and still be good.
“Part of Ramadan is to sacrifice, so being around food and not eating is actually a good challenge,” the Toronto Muslim resident said.
Canada’s Muslims started Ramadan fasting on July 20.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.
For Alaa Hajjaj, a Toronto accountant at Trade Secret Web Printing, his first Ramadan in Canada was easier than what he expected.
“This is the first time I’ve done Ramadan in Canada,” said Hajjaj, who emigrated from Abu Dhabi.
“Everyone in the office is being nice and accommodating, trying not to eat in front of me.”
The case was not the same for Fraz Ahmed, an automotive technician at Dufferin and Bloor Auto Repair and Sales.
“As a mechanic, working on cars, observing Ramadan is a bit hard. When the cars come in and they’re hot, you sweat. When you sweat, you have less energy,” Ahmed said.
“But once you’re in there, and you’re working on something, you won’t feel it at all.”
Muslims make 1.9 percent of Canada's some 32.8 million people.
The number of Canadian Muslims has increased over the past few years making Islam the number one non-Christian faith in the country.
A survey has showed that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian.
Intersecting religious observance and work, Canadian Muslims see the holy month of Ramadan as a chance for spiritual charge for the whole year.
“Ramadan is also a time of reconnecting with God. It’s about sacrificing. And it’s about charity,” Raphael, the chef, said.
“There are people [around the world] who are fasting for two or three days in a row without any food. So we have to be connected to them and feel their pain.”
Sharing the poor for thirty days of hunger and thirsty, Ramadan gives Muslims a chance to appreciate the blessings Allah bestow on them.
“Ramadan makes me appreciate everything that I have,” said Hajjaj.
“You remember in different parts of the world they don’t have the same things as here.”
Muslims also share the feelings of the needy and poor during the holy month.
“I feel that it’s necessary to feel that it’s difficult to fast at Ramadan. It’s not easy, but it’s life,” said Suhair Abu-Khaled, a farmer at Suhair Organic Farm from Richmond Hill, Ont.
“Some people, this is normal life for them. If we look, for example, at people in Somalia, or in Southern Africa, a lot of people are fasting the whole year, not just at Ramadan.
“If we ask why our God asks us to fast at Ramadan it’s to feel how poor people live. How they feel. Of course we should feel the difference.”
Fasting is meant to teach Muslims patience, self-control and spirituality, and time during the holy month is dedicated for getting closer to Allah though prayers, reading the Noble Qur’an and good deeds.
In Ramadan, Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.
The majority of Muslims prefer to pay Zakah for the poor and needy during the month.—www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: On Islam