Patriarch Aphrems Mosque

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Islamic worship at the Saint George Syrian Orthodox Simhasana Church, Abu Dhabi

Back on 12 March, I reported that His Holiness Ignatius Aphrem II the Prince Patriarch of Antioch and all the East admitted that he "kissed the Quran", and thus converted to Islam. Some people were critical of this view, and said that he hadn't really converted or had converted, and then recanted; but I continued to have my personal doubts, which were mostly based on his previous erratic decision making.

Now, just three months later, here is the daily worship taking place at the Saint George Syrian Orthodox Simhasana Church in Abu Dhabi - backs facing the altar, praying toward Mecca on Islamic prayer carpets. The local vicar Rev. Fr. Prince Ponna says that these new prayers are being done for the sake of "religious harmony", and that the congregation has not converted to Islam. My own call to their bishop, His Grace Matthews Mor Theodosius has received no response.

This is one of those game changing events in the history of the church. Never before has a patriarch willingly converted to Islam or assigned Islamic prayers to be sung in a Syriac Christian church. This new "harmony" seems to include more Islam than Christianity, and is a step too far in the wrong direction when it comes to religious dialogue.

As for me, I am proud of those Nazarani who have stood with us against this evil. Your courage not to bow down to the pressure to join the SOCA has been tremendous. By your example of righteous faith, other people will be converted and eyes will be uncovered as to the truth. God bless you and keep you for your faith in the Messiah Yeshue!

This article is part of the personal blog of His Excellency, Hadrian Mar Elijah Bar Israel, the Emeritus Metropolitan of the Nazarani Church, deeply concerned with non-violence and the spread of peace throughout the world.