Muslims and Christians need to focus on what binds them together

Sent On: 
Tue, 2021-05-18
Newsletter Number: 

Many non-religious people in the West tend to believe religious people are irrational. Their view of religious Muslims is often even less favorable. They are, unjustly, often associated with religious extremism. Ignorance of the great diversity that we find in all religions as well as their similarities has created unfounded prejudices and fear for Muslims in general in particular.

It is, therefore, good to become familiarized with the ideas of the Egyptian Moral Rearmament Association (EMRA). These are a group of believing Muslims and Christians who focus on what binds them together.


The origins of EMRA are in the Second World War. The founders established a movement that sought an end to war. The activities of the first decades of their existence were informal. It was only in March 1988 that they were registered at the Ministry of Social Solidarity.


I interviewed some of the major actors: Gretel Trog (b.1928), devoted Swiss Christian, and Dr. Nagia Abdelmoghney Said [Nājiyya ʿAbd al-Mughnī Saʿīd], devoted Egyptian Muslim, both Initiatives of Change members from its first hour. If one would think that because of her age Gretel Trog would be looking towards the past, one would be mistaken. In her talks, she is aware of the past but is fully focused on the future for generations to come.



Gretel Trog and Cornelis Hulsman                  Dr. Nājiyya ʿAbd al-Mughnī Saʿīd


“If you want to change the world, you have to start with yourself,” said Gretel Trog quoting Dr. Frank Buchman, founder of the Moral Rearmament Association with chapters around the world, most of whom later changed their names to Initiatives of Change. Faith, Gretel Trog says, is “about a personal friendship with God.” She also said, “Dare to be a Daniel. Dare to stand alone dare to have a purpose firm message. Dare to make it.” The prophet Daniel was virtually alone when he witnessed his faith in King Nebuchadnezzar known.


Muslims and Christians at the EMRA are familiar with each other scriptures and Christians quote liberally from the Qur’an and Hadith and Muslims quote from Christian scriptures. This intercultural and intertextual facility shows respect and understanding of each other’s faith traditions.


Seleem Wassef [Salīm Wāṣif], then the head of dialogue of the Anglican Diocese of Egypt, attended an EMRA conference speaks about the need for “ethical honesty and true desire to reach God. When we do this, God will reveal Himself to us as human beings.” This means “We should not judge others and speak falsely about their books. See how the Qur’an refers to the Torah with respect.”

Mr. Salīm Wāṣif


The participants also made statements that show how much Egypt has changed since the 1940s. For example, today Muslims in Egypt claim that Muslim women cannot marry a non-Muslim man but this was very different in the 1940s and 1950s. This text is worth reading because it presents points of views that are rarely reported but that also can be found in Egypt.
Please read the article here.



May 18, 2021


Cornelis Hulsman, Editor-in-Chief