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The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love, and…
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The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love, and Terror in Algeria (2002)

by John Kiser, John W. Kiser

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Fascinating book on the kidnapping and murder of 7 Trappist monks in Algeria in 1996 by a terrorist group, the GIA. This group wanted all foreigners to leave Algeria; the monks felt their calling was among Muslims, not for converting them, but for dialogue and living among them, to point up the similarities between Islam and Christianity. Twice a year the monks would have what they called a "Ribat-es-Salaam" [Bond of Peace]: a Muslim-Christian dialogue. Prior Christian's life had been saved by a Muslim and after that, seeing the piety of the common people, he felt there was much in common between the two faiths.

An extensive, turgid section covered the social and political history of Algeria. The book explained how different radical groups arose and why people felt attracted to their ideology and terrorism. I enjoyed reading about founding of the Community, the lives of the monks, why they felt the call to be there so far from home, and also about Emir Abdelkader, an Algerian statesman, warrior and religious leader; the author uses the analogy of a cross between George Washington and Khalil Gibran. There's even a small town in the U.S. named after him: Elkader, Iowa. The prior's sermon on p. 218-220 is one of the most beautiful things I've ever read--the "five pillars that must be practiced each day to have peace": Patience, poverty; presence of God; ridding oneself of hatred in one's heart; prayer, and forgiveness. Forgiveness [ar-Rahman] is the first name of God among the 99 Names, and the last is Patience [Es Sabur]. ( )
  janerawoof | Apr 25, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Kiserprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kiser, John W.main authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312302940, Paperback)

Few Americans heard about it, but the story gripped Europe (and especially France) during the summer of 1996: The mysterious kidnapping and murder of seven Trappist monks living in the Algerian village of Tibhirine at their monastery of Notre-Dame de l'Atlas. John W. Kiser III tells their story, or at least what parts of it can be known; much of what happened to them remains unclear, including the motives of their captors. Parts of The Monks of Tibhirine are grim, but this is an unavoidable fact of the case. The monks' bodies, for instance, never have been found--except for their heads. Kiser describes the scene: "The monks' desiccated faces, hollow eye sockets, and exposed teeth made them look like mummies." (Apparently they had been buried, then disinterred.) Readers looking for a nonfiction thriller won't find it on these pages, however. Much of the book is a history of monks living in Algeria, and much of the rest chronicles the good relationships the seven doomed monks shared with their Muslim neighbors. Their devotion to both their faith and their neighbors is inspiring; the way they died is abhorrent. --John Miller

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:28 -0400)

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In the spring of 1996, militants of the Armed Islamic Group, today affiliated with Osama bin Laden's Al Queda network, broke into a Trappist monastery in war-torn Algeria. Seven monks were taken hostage, pawns in a murky negotiation to release imprisoned terrorists. Two months later, the severed heads of the monks were found in a tree not far from Tibhirine. Their bodies were never recovered.… (more)

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