First church inaugurated in Qatar

Great news here from AFP, and other sources as well. This is a controversial occassion because there is a hadith wherein Muhammad said, "Let there not be more than one religion in the Arabian Peninsula." This is why KSA has no churches of course, KSA is the second worse violator of religious freedom in the world (after N Korea) and of course after oil its main export is Wahabi-Salafi Islam which is reformed, violent, and militant.

But enough on KSA. As you read this article let me point out how we should be praying for this new church as well as the other ones that are in the work.

One concern is safety obviously, but in this region that is a given.

Let us also pray that the ministers in these churches would have a great desire and ability to communicate the good news with their flocks but also with the Muslim population there.

Finally, note that the absence of any crosses or bells is classic shari'a. If it has been established that the location where the church is built used to be a church or convent or monastery, then the construction of this new church could be classified as the repair of an ancient church, which is lawful in the shari'a as long as it is done with the permission of the Muslim ruler.

Thousands of Catholics attend first mass at Qatari church


DOHA (AFP) — Thousands of Christians took part on Saturday in the first mass at Muslim Qatar's only church, opened this week despite threats from Islamists.

Vatican envoy Cardinal Ivan Dias presided over the eucharist attended by around 15,000 worshippers at Our Lady of the Rosary Roman Catholic church in Doha, thanking "God and Qatar for this great gift".

The church, which like elsewhere in the Gulf Arab region has no bells or crosses on its exterior, opened on Friday ahead of western Christianity's celebration of Easter, which this year falls on March 23.

It is the first of five to be constructed in the gas-rich Gulf state.

From early morning, Catholics began arriving at the church, which accommodates around 5,000. Big screens were erected in the grounds to allow the overflow to follow the mass, celebrated during the consecration of the building.

The mass was conducted in English, but prayers were also said in Arabic, Urdu, Hindi, Tagalog, Spanish and French for the many nationalities that would worship in the church.

Dozens of police were deployed around the church, which cost some 20 million dollars (13 million euros), and female officers searched the handbags of women worshippers.

Western embassies, particularly from the United States and Britain, warned nationals living in Qatar to be extra vigilant after an Islamic militants on the Internet made threats linked to the opening of the church.

The US embassy on Thursday released a warning that the new church might be targeted.

"Extremists may elect to use conventional or non-conventional weapons and target both official and private interests. Examples of such targets include ... the new Christian Church complex in Doha," it said.

Worshippers said they were not concerned by the threats.

"It is a day without precedent. I am very happy. The threats were made but I didn't pay them much attention. I trust the country's authorities," Filipino Catholic Shato Mawude told AFP.

Fellow Filipino Ariel Almyede added: "This church is a sign of a possible dialogue between the different faiths."

Qatari Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah added: "The church sends a positive message to the world ...

"At the moment we are enjoying the construction of mosques and Islamic centres in the West, so we must be fair" toward Christians in the region and allow them places of worship.

Qatar is a close ally of Washington and hosts the command headquarters for US forces in the Middle East.

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), meanwhile, police were seen on Saturday guarding one of the main churches in bustling Dubai and searching worshippers entering the compound.

Police closed off access to cars around St Mary's Catholic Church and signs were put up in the street directing motorists to park their vehicles in other specified places, an AFP correspondent reported.

A priest who asked not to be named told AFP there had been no threat against the church and the security deployment was a preventive measure. Policemen said the "precautionary" moves would last until March 25, after Easter.

The UAE prides itself on its religious tolerance and cultural diversity, and most Gulf Arab states have long allowed Christians to worship in churches.

But Saudi Arabia, which adheres to a rigorous doctrine of Islam known as Wahhabism and is home to Islam's holiest sites, bans all non-Muslim religious rituals and materials.

However, the papal nuncio in the Gulf, Archbishop Paul-Munjed al-Hashem, said on the sidelines of the Doha mass that talks had begun with Riyadh to convince it to become the final Gulf Arab state to allow churches.

"Discussions are underway with Saudi Arabia to allow the construction of churches in the kingdom," he said, adding that the country had between three and four million Christian residents. "We cannot forecast the outcome."

Comments

soulstoppa said…
Saudi arabia does not follow wahhabism. Thats nonsenical.

If you are serious about learning, read an excellent treatise - The Wahhabi Myth by Haneef James Oliver,
also go to http://sinningslave.wordpress.com/

This is something the various sects who indulge in new additions, inventing new customs into the religion like grave-worshipping said to make it look like it Wahhab was inventing something new when in fact, the beauty was that Wahhab himself only called to return to the religion in the pure form as from the Quran, the Sunnah, and the understanding of the Salaf.

And as a consequence and herein lies the irony, the media, and therefore a lot of people without even reading what Wahhab called to, end up completely mislead into thinking that he called to new things, when that was what he actually strove against.
Abu Daoud said…
Hi Soulstoppa,

It is true that Muhammad Abd al Wahab understood himself to be reforming Islam and simply going back to a pristine and pure form of the religion. But one man's reform is another man's bid'a (innovation). Also, different people engage in reform in differen ways, and it is common in many religions to name a tradition of reform after the Reformer, as is the case in Calvinism or Lutheranism, or perhaps where it took place (Anglicanism). What is annoying is to privileged one reform and say it is 'Reformed'. Ie, the correct and true reform. That is rubbish. The reform tradition of Abd al Waha in KSA is strong and influential, so I do not retract my statement.

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