Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Zambia, Mozambique & South Africa 2020
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Travel As An Interfaith Act
Embrace encourages all who can do so, to learn about other traditions and cultures by traveling as “Grassroots Diplomats.” We hope that people every where become life long students of our world-wide humanity.
“ In every man there is something wherein I may learn of him, and in that I am his pupil.” R.W.Emerson
One of the Many Falls at Sacred Mosi-oa-Tunya – (Victoria Falls) Zambia / Zimababwe
The Coptic Monasteries of Egypt are a true joy to visit because of their monks, who are extremely kind, have a welcoming manner of greeting all strangers. They are among the least judgemental people we have met and visitors who have an interest in Christian history in the Middle East will find their information helpful in understanding the development of Christianity after the death of Christ.
Because of the location of the early Coptic Monasteries and St.Catherine’s Greek Orthodox Monastery at Mt. Sinai in “biblically known” desert areas, it is easy to get an idea of the historical Christian community and their intense devotion to becoming more like the “Christ.”
Moulay Idriss Mosque – Moulay Idriss, Morocco
Entrance to St. Paul’s Cave – Monastery of St. Paul – Red Sea Desert, Egypt
Entrance to the Tomb of St. Anthony St. Anthony’s Monastery – Red Sea Desert, Egypt
Brother Marcos wanted to take Ajata and Virginia to St. Anthony’s cave where St. Anthony prayed (but not where he is buried.) It is about 20 minutes walk (in the hot sun) above the monastery, (about an hour round trip) but they could not. However, Brother Marcos said they were always welcomed – so with all the blessings coming to them from the monastery, (Inshallah) hopefully Ajata and Virgina will be able to return soon and take that hike to the very Holy Place.
For Further Information: SEE: Traveling in Egypt 2020 in CURRENT
Traveling to Islamic, Jewish, Christian and Traditiional Sacred Places Plus a Visit to A Humanitarian Helping Women in Zambia To Be Self-Sufficient
As always, the agenda for the trip was:
To meet with religious leaders, spiritual leaders and scholars throughout the areas we travel.
To encourage grassroots interest in organizing intercultural and interfaith events in their respective communities.
To photograph as a record, places considered sacred by the people living in these countries.
To photograph precious anthropological/ archaeological sites that are vulnerable to war and ecological damage.
Swami Satchidananda, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan & Ajata
The Embrace Founders began their New Year in Morocco. A much beloved country and people for them. Since their last trip perhaps more than ever, Muslim Moroccans have to struggle as to what it means to be a Moroccan and what it means to be a Muslim.
Like never before, competing values are battling for their attention. On the one hand, Westernization is dominating the large cities, except for Fez, which has long been both a bastion of conservative (somewhat orthodox) as well as, strongly transendent spiritual values with many saintly persons evolving there over hundreds of years.
Rural areas still have weekly markets held on the streets but hold to the same devotion and beliefs they’ve generally always had. Another influence are the huge numbers of European tourists flooding into the country (especially Marrakech) which have had an impact bringing money and jobs.
However, European governments have not always been kind to Muslim refugees in their countries and most of the Western European countries were tacitly complicit or were directly involved with the unjustified atrocities of most of the recent American wars against Muslim civilians; including Afghanistan, (borders of Pakistan), Iraq, Syria, Libya and Sudan. The U.S. has also assisted in the bombing of Yeman civilians by the Saudis. If Europe doesn’t want Muslim refugees, they should speak out against the bombing of Islamic countries. Moroccans’ are painfuly aware of this paradox. On the other hand, the Muslim Clerics who relocate to multi-cultural Western Nations where freedom is revered, should not remain in such countries if they think they can convert the freedom of millions into Sharia Law. Even the majority of Muslim countries do not have anything resembling the kind of Sharia Law they espouse - a “Religious Dictatorship” advocated by power hungry Imams.
In fact, many Muslims have left Islamic countries to get away from illiterate, undereducated, politically ambitious Imams and terrorist leaders in the Sahel, Nigeria and rural Pakistan, (most whose only claim to Islam is being born into a non-practising Islamic family.) Many of these people making a lot of noise, lack any understanding of the vast knowledge held in the Hadiths & Qur’an.
Muslims have come to Europe for many decades to escape these pedagogues. They left their homelands so that they could practise Islam in a loving and compassionate way. (Al Wadud – Ya Wadud – The loving ) Morocco has been in the past one of the most open-hearted countries towards their friends and neighbors who were Jewish Moroccans.
Ajata admiring the Lamaza Synagogue - Marrakeche
This sadly began to change, as long respected Jewish people in Morocco were perceived by their Muslim neighbors as being complicit with the zionists in the United States and Israel who lobbied hard to initiate most of the completely unjustified wars against Muslim nations. Many news outlets in Europe, Britain and the U.S. are perceived to be controlled by people who espouse a virulent anti-Islamic agenda and are in fact often owned or controlled by members of the zionist Jewish community. The fact is, however, that there is a very clear distinction between political war mongers and hate mongers in the United States and the Holy Land and the simple Jewish community living in Morocco.
In addition, there has long been dialogue and trust between Muslim Leaders worldwide as well as, with many Muslim people and the peace-oriented Jewish (non-Israeli settlers) of Torah Jews – in particular, the Hasidic and Litvak communities. It should be noted also, that especially among large numbers of the Reform Jewish community, there have always been many who have spoken out against aggression and violence. Of course, there are also Jewish people who speak out for non- violence in all the Jewish sects and among the secular Jewish Community as well, but it is among the most Orthodox that aggressive violence is absolutely forbidden. And it is the most Orthodox who have consistently reached out to the the Islamic community over many years.
The treatment of Palestians is another issue which was brought up to us but again the Moroccan Jewish community is innocent of stealing land from Palestinians or causing harm to them. The Embrace Founders also feel strongly about the unending discrimination, humiliation, suffering and persecution of Palestinians (both Muslim & Christian) in the Holy Land but this has nothing to do with the Moroccan Jewish community.
Now once again, the Moroccan community, especially the Berbers in Zagora are welcoming Jewish people back to Morocco. Morocco will be a much more interesting and culturally richer place if their old Jewish community comes back. We hope they do. For more information & photos: SEE: Traveling in Moroccoin the CURRENT section
Sacred Kairoun Mosque -Kairoun, Tunisia
Tunisia has a completly different feel than Morocco. The people are quite self-confident, energetic and this translates especially to the young women who are very determined to cut out the life they want for themselves. They also want the world to know that they are proud of being Muslim, but it is Islam on their terms
Shrine of Sidi Sahib Abu Zamaa Al Balawi -Kairouan
The reason for this is multi-fold. Tunisia was the first country to launch the so-called “Arab Spring.” They suffered considerably and with that under their belts, Tunisians are going out to meet the future determinedly. The University in the center of Tunis gives the city a feelng of “intellectual freedom” and there is no feeling of people holding back what they really think or feel. Tunis is also with little doubt, the North African center of new types of alternative life-styles.
Ancient & Beloved Al Griba Synagogue – Djerba Island
The Tunis Grande Synagogue - Tunis
St.George’s Greek Orthodox Church – The Unusal All-Seeing Eye - Tunis
Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul (Catholic) – Tunis
St. Paul of Thebes (The Anchorite 227 -342 AD) Monastery & St. Anthony of Thebes (The Anchhorite 251 -356 AD) Monastery
Brother Marcos & Virginia – St. Anthony’s Monastery Red Sea Desert, Egypt