John W. Kiser, The Monks of Tibhirine.
Faith, Love and Terror
In March 1996 seven Trappist
monks where abducted from their monastery in the
Each one of these seven
monks was a fascinating personality.
Kiser describes in great details the spiritual journey
of each one, situating it against their family and cultural background
and in the historical context of
The events of those years
Kiser avoids trying to show that the monks were martyrs for being killed in hate of their faith. In fact they were authentic witnesses to faith, and therefore authentic martyrs, by the way in which they lived, and by the manner in which they practiced friendship and love with their Muslim brothers. They died -- whoever killed them -- because that brotherhood between Christians and Muslims was a nuisance to some.
Few books about the Monks of Tibhirine have been written in English, while a large number were published in French. Of all these books, in whatever language, Kiser's is one of the best, precisely because, while being a carefully researched presentation of the facts and their historical and political background, it attaches itself to presenting the spiritual and human journey of each one of the protagonists with a great deal of empathy and respect.
In this time when some people try to create and deepen a rift between cultures, civilizations and religions, and when Islam is often known in the West only through the manifestations of some of its extremist marginal elements, Kiser helps us to know another Islam, the real one, the one of the ordinary people of a small village like Tibhirine were Contemplative Christian monks and devout local Muslims could live in brotherhood and friendship.
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