Some of you must have heard of a tape circulated by Muslims alleging the conversion of a Coptic Cardinal to Islam. The tape is not new, but lately (December 97) has been put in the Internet and so we asked some Coptic Christians to prepare a rebuttal. Anyone who knows a little bit about the Coptic Church would recognize the fraud of this testimony but many Muslims do not know much about Christianity at all, and obvioulsy those who took the effort to put it on the net thought it to be genuine.

The rebuttal worked. The story has been removed from the Muslim web site. The link below is now to a copy of this text for documentation sake, since it is bound to appear again, and since the text is still spread in printed form in pamphlets.

A Coptic Cardinal Converted to Islam?

This is in regard to the alleged testimony of a Cardinal converting to Islam, but it is prepared from one of the printed versions that circulate with this story. (Please FIRST read the testimony to understand the harsh reaction below.)

It should be very obvious to any person, regardless of his religion, that this is a rather a poor fabrication. The following points are of interest:

  1. This article is a typical Islamic exercise in vulgarity and mental anomaly. During the past few years, similar articles circulated in Egypt claiming the conversion to Islam of some unknown Coptic priests in Upper Egypt.

  2. The fabricator failed in masking his identity. Most likely the writer is a Muslim from Mombassa/Kenya where many bats are unable to resist the emerging shining light of the Coptic orthodoxy and are hiding in their dark corners issuing poor quality circulars embracing ignorance and intolerance.

  3. According to Coptic authorities; there was never a Coptic Cardinal by the name Abu Ishaq. The title "Cardinal" does not even exist in the Coptic Orthodox Church. It is very obvious, the fabricator's English is an African English whose minority Christian surrounding is predominantly Catholic. As the Coptic Church does not recognize the infallibility of the Pope (circular page 6, 3rd paragraph of part III of the circular) nor appoints Cardinals or senior Cardinals to its ranks, not to mention such absurd names; Abu Ishaq. Also, Coptic Church does not have confession box (circular page 5; 11th paragraph). The only given body without sin is that of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

  4. The so-called Abu Ishaq attended Faculty of Theology of Cairo University. This is ridiculous, as the Faculty of Theology of Cairo University never existed. Furthermore, the Islamic government of Egypt will never allow Christian studies in a state-run universities. To our knowledge none of the Coptic clergy earned a degree in theology from a Lebanese college as the Coptic Church has its own theological institute in Cairo by the name "The College of Clergy (Kolleit al-Eklericyya)".

  5. Why should the Pope of Alexandria appoint the so-called Abu Ishaq, a mentally unstable person (circular page 5, 6th paragraph) who verbally abused the Pope on several occasions as a Cardinal for West Africa?

  6. It never came to our attention that a Coptic Cardinal by the name Abu Ishaq chased a boy in public bus and continued the chase in Cairo streets to snatch from the boy Quoranic books! As a matter of fact Quoranic books are available at every street corner in Egypt and it does not take a chase in public transportation and street of Cairo to acquire one.

  7. With all due respect; it seems the so-called Cardinal Abu Ishaq is rather a deaf character who does not listen to the daily Quoranic preaching in the government owned news media and has to chase a lad in public transportation and Cairo streets to snatch a one-cent (2 Egyptian piasters) book to introduce him to the mercy of Islam. What a miracle! Is Cardinal Abu Ishaq too deaf to hear and an illiterate to read the news of Coptic genocide and holocaust where members of hundreds of Coptic families were massacred in various Egyptian cities by members of Islamic groups to recognize the teachings of the merciful Islam to join the herd of wolves? In this context; the ministry of interior never paid in full for a Coptic victim of Islamic violence in Upper Egypt, nor did they provide sufficient protecion to them. According to news paper published in Egypt; various Egyptian governments of Mr. Sadat and Mr. Mubarak were in continuous political dialogue with heads of Islamic group of terror while members of these groups were harvesting the lives of innocent Copts, kidnapping Coptic girls, burning their properties, etc.

  8. The government owned media and news paper will never miss the chance of the claimed "attached chambers of imprisonment and torture to Church buildings" to add to its arsenal in its daily attack on the Coptic Church. Second, how could 97 days of imprisonment and torture go unnoticed to the Egyptian authorities?

  9. According to the last paragraph of page 6 of the circular; a senior Cardinal was comforting Abu Ishaq while being tortured in imprisonment! What a grace! We never realized Allah's mercy has extensively engulfed the Coptic Church where the senior Cardinal (a never existing post in Coptic Church) adopted Islam as well.

  10. How could Cardinal Abu Ishaq of West Africa miss a simple historical fact pertaining to the name of the Pope of Alexandria who witnessed the Arab aggression and occupation of Egypt. The name of the Pope was not Marcus. Pity, the ignorant fabricator was so confused as Marcus was the name of the Apostle who evangelized Egypt, 600 years before the Arab invasion of Egypt.

In the final analysis: it is a waste of breath to give this article any further consideration.

Adding some further thoughts contributed from other Christians, some Copts and some from other Churches, after reading the internet version. I am not sure both are completely identical, I only have seen the internet version:

  • The Coptic Orthodox Church has Bishops and Metropolitans, but no Cardinals.
  • He is obviously ignorant of the Bible to say it does not teach about the crucifixion! About a quarter of the text of the Gospels are describing the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus. This is impossible to miss for any who has read the Bible even once. The Coptic priest I knew up this way knew large sections of the Bible by heart.
  • Confessions in the Orthodox Coptic Church are not from behind a curtain or in confession boxes, this is a purely Catholic practise.
  • The Copts do not hold their Pope to be sinless. Not even the Catholics believe the Pope to be sinless, this is a confusion probably with the doctrine of infallibility for the rare events of teaching ex cathedra.
  • Even though Coptic priest are allowed to marry, the name of this convert is ridiculous. Only monks can become bishops (if that is what he meant by "Cardinal", in the Roman Catholic a Cardinal is even higher than a bishop). But obviously, if you are not married, you won't be called Abu Ishaq, father of Ishaq. This would be an open confession that you lived in sin. Coptic bishops are usually addressed with the title "Anba" and the priests with "Abouna" both meaning "Father", but this is a title, a mode of respectful address, and not part of the priest's name as the inventor of this conversion ignorantly assumed.
  • One more lie, about the priests wearing black: it is a tradtional thing for all the orthodox world to wear black, even the Russian and the Greek orthodox. It had nothing to do with Islam. -- Info from a Russian Orthodox Christian: All Russian Orthodox monks wear black all the time, as do nuns, as a symbol that they have died to this world. That means that those monks who are also priests will almost always wear black, and bishops will always wear black since bishops are always monks. Married priests, on the other hand, aren't as restricted in what they are canonically allowed to wear. But many will still wear black.
  • How can the Coptic Church import 26 lions from America without Egyptian customs knowing about it? How would they explain what these lions are for? And why would anyone import lions from America in the first place, when lions are originally from Africa and the only lions in America would be those who grew up in zoos, and which were originally imported from Africa? This man is even ignorant about the origin of lions, not only about the church.

    Last comment: Among all the conversion hoaxes on our site, this one is quite unique. All the others are false conversions of real people (or exaggerated in their position and importance), while in this one even the person himself is made up.

    It is amazing how similar some of the details in the story of the Cardinal are to the several centuries old writings by Anselm Tormeda. Tormeda was a real person (contrary to the above) and was a convert to Islam. He wrote books, some of which have reprinted various times, but how much of what he wrote is true, that is another question altogether.

    More rumors and hoaxes
    Answering Islam Home Page