A Tunisian View on Muslim-Christian Relations

Sent On: 
Mon, 2017-08-07
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Editor AWR: This view is expressed by Rekaya el-Hafi, a Tunisian humanitarian activist who was born and raised in a Muslim family but represents the Eglise Reformé de Tunis in its relation between the Tunisian government and civil society. Tunisia’s constitution advocates freedom of religion and thus Rekaya has been advocating against legal restraints on conversions in any direction and making mixed marriages between Muslims and Christians possible, not only between a Muslim man and a Christian woman which is accepted in Islam but also between a Christian man and a Muslim woman without enforcing conversions in any direction. Religion, in her view, should be fully free without any constraints so that people can make their own personal search for God.


Rekaya el-Hafi:

Christianity and Islam are the largest religions in the world and share deep historical and traditional connections with some major theological differences. 

The relationship between Christians and Muslims can be discussed in several contexts: positive, tolerance, respect and cooperation and negative: murder, intolerance and hostility as well.

Given the history of conflict and the collective memory of grave injustice on both sides followers of these two faiths are loaded with the burden of that history which cannot be forgotten. In addition, recent world events are taking place, including terrorism and different phobias (western-phobia and Islamophobia) which seems actually to promote division.

Moreover, religion has today become like a nationality. It is a way to get into a certain group, to be in a safe zone where one belongs, because moving outside one’s own group could lead to rejection.

Christians are facing problems in Muslim societies, especially those Christians who converted from Islam to Christianity. There is no tolerance for different beliefs and in particular not changes in beliefs. That makes one rejected.


Human beings are selfish and want those in positions of power want to control and oblige others to conformity and slavery. They also (mis)use God and religion to achieve their objectives. This is the main reason to seeking liberty: humans want to be free of the control of other humans.

The lack of the liberty of expression and the willingness to oblige to the views of the majority are also reasons that helped the majority to oppress the minority and exert a certain pressure on them: they can face abuse and they can also be persecuted and persecuted.

On the other hand, the images presented about Muslims all over the world, with Islam being accused of terrorism, turned their lives into nightmares. Islam nowadays is feared in the non-Muslim world and believed to be dangerous.


Misunderstandings and unawareness made it hard for both religions to communicate and find a way to reach peace.

Christian-Muslim relations in our time are also influenced by colonial and post colonial history. In the current world situation we hear scholars as Huntington and media and politicians speak of a "clash of civilizations." Muslims see today the West as oppressive and they consider it unfair in its dealing with the Islamic world. The Western world is brushing these sentiments away and don’t want to deal with them. Muslims also have an image of Christians whom they see as Western and as people who want to convert them.

Differences are highlighted instead of reuniting both faiths and this is just widened the gap.

God didn't want us to be separated, he wants us to be united. Our Lord has never been arrogant so why are we? Humans are full of hate, full of darkness and he wants to lead us to the light. Love and peace is the only thing we need.

Are we aware of this? Probably yes but something inside us, it could be selfishness and it could be unwillingness is dragging us down.

One of the biggest challenges for believers today is that of inter-faith relations. We are seeking to promote relationships of harmony, cooperation and communication.

The only thing we need to agree on is "Lord's love."  Remember that he is our father, creator and God. So love the Lord your God with all of your heart and remember that we are brothers and sisters. We belong to the same race and we believe in the same God. There is no difference between us. The noble Qur’an said “and the nearest them in love to the believers are those who say we are Christians." (Sura 5, verse 82)

We are seeking the Lord's will. May he reunite us, may he direct our path.


Tunis, August 7, 2017