Christian Hermit in an Islamic World
Ali Merad “Christian Hermit in an Islamic World: A Muslim’s View of Charles de Foucauld” [Paulist Press, 2000]
“In “Christian Hermit in a Muslim World”, distinguished Muslim scholar Ali Merad has fashioned a moving personal tribute to Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916), one of the most unusual Christian witnesses of this century. Born to a French aristocratic family, Foucauld entered the French army in Algiers and lived a dissolute life, until he was touched by God’s grace through the example of the believing Arabs in his midst Impressed by their religious spirit, he become a Trappist, then was ordained a priest. He spent the rest of his life in the desert in solitude, self-denial and hardship, displaying love and concern for his Arab neighbors. “Charles de Foucauld’s image has become a source of radiance in the solitude and silence,” writes Merad. “It reminds us of the ‘monk’s lamp’ dear to the ancient Arab poets, with its glimmer that made the heart of the solitary traveler beat with gladness, at the thought that through the unfathomable desert night, this fragile light was like the joyful sign of a fraternal presence.” His inspiring example will guide the way to a more honest and open dialogue between Christians and Muslims.”
“In this inspiring paperback translated from the French with a foreword and afterword by Zoe Hersov, Ali Merad, a professor of Arabic literature and civilization a the University of Lyon, pays tribute to Charles de Foucauld (1858 — 1916), “the Christian hermit of the Saraha.” This zealous monk’s life of solitude and service led to the founding of the Little Brothers of Jesus in 1933.
Ali Merad, a Muslim, is impressed with Foucauld’s relationship with the Tuareg, the most warlike of all the desert tribes. These poor but proud nomads taught this outsider their language, history, and folklore. Although a believer in colonialism, Foucauld tried to mediate between these Bedouin people and the French army. Merad believes this Christian espoused the authenticity of the Gospel message by his deeds of humility, charity, and gentleness. These attributes are also at the heart and soul of the Islamic faith.
Merad concludes: “Charles de Foucauld seems to have been called by destiny to be a mystical witness to Jesus before Islam.” The translator, Zoe Hersov, goes further; he claims that this French priest has shown us how to be graceful guests in the house of Islam.”
For Charles de Foucauld, see: