Most Christians in the Holy Land are Arabs? How can that be? How
can a Christian be an Arab?
To many people in North America, to be
Arab means to be Muslim. In fact they are two separate
concepts. The term Arab refers to a culture or ethnicity, such
as Latino, which can, and often does, span nations and religions.For
example, the Mexican-born actress Salma Hayek is, in addition to being a Latina, is also a
Christian whose father is Lebanese. Ralph Nader, Tony
Shalhoub (TV's Monk), John Sununu, Shakira, Governor Mitc Daniels, Steve Jobs, Frank
Zappa, Vince Vaughn, Doug Flutie, George Mitchell are all Christians
Wikipedia reports: "Arab identity is defined independently of religious identity, and pre-dates the rise of Islam, with historically attested Arab Christian kingdoms and Arab Jewish tribes."
about 80 percent of the world Muslim population area NOT Arab.
Christians in North America, as part of their efforts to embrace their fellow Christians
in the Holy Landand to stand in solidarity with them, owe it to themselves to learn more about what it means to be an Arab to understand more about what it means to be a
Christian in the Holy Land.
Christians are a Double Minority in the Holy Land with Multiple
It' can be very confusing. And
sometimes conflicting. In addition to their Christian
identity, Christians living in the Holy Land may also be
Palestinian, Israeli and/or Arab. And they live as a
double minority: a minority among Arab Muslims and among Israeli
Why is the Holy Land holy to Muslims and Jews?
In the Qur'an, the term "Holy Land" is mentioned at least seven times, once when Moses proclaims to the Children of Israel: "O my people! Enter the holy land which Allah hath
assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown, to your own ruin." (Surah 5:21)
Jerusalem (referred to in Arabic as Al-Quds, meaning the "Holy") has particular significance in Islam. The Qur'an refers to Muhammad's experiencing the Isra and Mi'raj (the two parts of a Night Journey that, according to Islamic tradition, the Islamic prophet Muhammad took
during a single night around the year 621) as "a Journey by night from the Sacred (Mecca) Mosque to the Farthest (al-Aqsa) Mosque, whose precincts We did bless" (17:1).
Islamic tradition associates the "Farthest Mosque" as Al-Quds.
While the Jewish bible does not refer to the Land of Israel as the "holy land", this is implied by the Land being given to the Israelites by God, that is, it is the "promised land," an integral part of God's covenant. In the Torah many
of God's commandments can only be performed in the Land of Israel.
According to one commentator: "The uniqueness of the Land
of Israel ... [is that it is]the land which faces the
entrance of the spiritual world, that sphere of existence that lies beyond the physical world known to us through our senses. This is the key to the land's unique status with regard to prophecy and prayer, and also with regard to the commandments"
Further, Jerusalem, Hebron, Tzfat and Tiberias are regarded as Judaism's holiest cities. Jerusalem, as the site of
is considered especially significant. For example, The temple is on Mount Moriah,
the location of the binding of Isaac. Jerusalem is mentioned 669
times and many of God's commandments can only be performed
within its environs.
Why Can't Muslims and Jews (and Christians) share the Holy Land?
They can. And they will.
But the task can be quicker and easier with the help of
Christians living in the Holy Land. However, because
Christians are such a small minority in the Holy Land, that help will
only be effective with the active support and concern for
Christians in the Holy Land by Christians living outside the
Holy Land. Specifically, the kind of support and concern that puts aside and
leaves out of the discussion political biases for, or political
prejudices against, Palestinians or Israelis, and religious
biases for, or religious prejudices against, Muslims or Jews.
What are the Christian Holy Sites in the Holy Land?
- ISRAEL (Jerusalem): The Golgotha (sometimes
called Calvary) hill outside of ancient Jerusalem’s early
1st century walls that contains the Church
of the Holy Sepulchre and
the Church of All
Nations, but many other Christian institutions as well.
Jerusalem is believed to be the site of some of Jesus's
teaching, the Last
Supper which is
believed to have occurred at the Cenacle,
and the subsequent institution of the Holy
Eucharist as well
as His entombment; Christians believe he was crucified on a
ISRAEL: The Via Dolorosa,
The route to Jesus' death consists of fourteen
stations, beginning with the Monastery of Flagellation (the
first of 14 stations o the Via Dolorosa) where the trial of
Jesus took place and extending towards the Church of the
Holy Sepulchre where, according to the Christian gospels,
Jesus was crucified and buried.
The second station on the path consists of an ancient
Roman arch onto which the words spoken by the Roman emperor
who sent Jesus to his death are carved. The third station
commemorates Jesus' first lapse of exhaustion.
The fourth station is the spot believed to be the
meeting place between Jesus and his mother. The fifth
station is where Christ was approached by Simon the
The sixth station marks the meeting place of Jesus and
Veronica who whipped his pained face with her scarf.
The seventh station commemorates Jesus' second
lapse of exhaustion. The eighth station marks
where Jesus was helped by yet another pious woman.
The ninth is the place where Christ's body collapsed
yet again under the weight of the cross.
The remaining five stations (10th to 14th) are
located inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and
commemorate Jesus' death, the Pieta scene wherein Christ is
held by Marry for the last time, and his burial.
- PALESTINE: The city of Bethlehem with
the Church of the
believed to mark the birthplace of Jesus, and also the
Shepherd's Fields in the neighboring village of Beit
Sahour, the location of the angel's visitation to the
shepherds to announce the birth of Christ.
- ISRAEL: Church of the Annunciation in Basilica and Mary's
Well inNazareth which
is believed to be Jesus's hometown, and the site of other
- ISRAEL: Sephoria (Tzippori),
where the Virgin
Mary was said to
have spent her childhood
- PALESTINE: Nearby Jericho, the site
called "Qasr el Yahud" on the western bank of the River
Jordan, is the site of the
Baptism of Jesus.
- Cave dwelling of John
- ISRAEL: Sea of Galilee.
- ISRAEL: The site of the Transfiguration
of Jesus on Mount
- The Jerusalem to Jericho road
to which was the location of the Good
- ISRAEL: The Mount
of Temptation in
Jericho which was the site of Satan's failed attempts to
- PALESTINE: Jacob's Well in
Nablus marks the site where Jesus revealed to a Samaritan
woman that he was the Messiah.
believed to be Jesus's home after Nazareth, site of what is
believed to be the house of Peter.
- ISRAEL: Mount of the
Beatitudes, where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount
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