I believe that Botros is an example of contextualized ministry par excellence. This might sound like a strange thing to say today when contextualization and a non-polemical approach are seen as inseparable. Au contraire. Contextual witness does not mean be- ing nice, and it certainly does not mean refraining from criticism of the Prophet of Islam or its book. What contextualization means is that you are asking the questions to which people want to know answers. A basic example of this is the now commonplace insight that Arabs are more moved by honor-shame questions than innocence-guilt ones. That is context. And Abouna does this very well: Muslims want to know about Muhammad, the shari’a, the ahadiith, and so on. They want to know how Islam can (or cannot) be al haal, the solution, as other great Egyptians have argued (Al Banna? Qutb?). And Botros is uniquely prepared to address these questions: for one, his Arabic is excellent, which might not mean a lot to people who have not studied the language, but understand that classical Arabic and common Egyptian Arabic are about as close to each other as Latin and modern Italian. (OK, maybe that’s a little bit of a stretch, but not much.) His skills in Arabic permit him to delve into the copious volumes of traditions about the life of the Prophet and Islamic shari’a. Egypt asks Zakaria: in what way can Islam be the solution? Zakaria responds: this is the life of the Prophet and the law of Islam; you make your own decision.
Read it all at SFM: Abu Daoud, 'Observations on Abuna Zakaria Botros (and a Book Review)' in St Francis Magazine, Vol 5:5, Oct 2009, pp 93-8.
A list of all my SFM publications can be found on the right-hand side of the screen at Islamdom, FYI.