When the Faith of Another Speaks to you of God

Fr. Rolando Ruiz Duran, sx

When the faith of the other speaks to you of God and transmits to you that beautiful presence that only God gives, then you discover once again something that we hardly intuit: the others always present us with something of the God whom we love and in whom we believe, but who always, always surpasses us.

This has been my impression of the meeting with Mme. Latifa Ibn Ziaten, a woman who lives her faith in such a simple and at the same time profound way in which simplicity and depth are confused and suddenly one does not know on which path she is going.

This woman, who has received the prize of Human Fraternity in its first edition, has received it together with Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the UN. It has been awarded to them by the High Committee of Human Fraternity which is based in Abu Dhabi. The first edition of this international day was held on February 4, 2021. The United Nations Assembly has accepted it internationally by vote. It echoes the document of human fraternity for peace and coexistence in peace signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayyeb on February 4, 2019. An unprecedented document in which Muslims and Catholics take a step forward, and which recalls the step, eight centuries ago, of the meeting of St. Francis of Assisi with Sultan Malik Al-Kamil in Damietta, Egypt.

Returning to Mme Latifa Ibn Ziaten, she presents herself as a woman, Muslim, French and Moroccan. Born in Tetouan, Morocco and married to a man from Mdiq, she emigrated to France when she was 17, she knew nothing about French. Together they have founded a family of five children. One of them Imad Ibn Ziaten, who has been killed for being a soldier by a terrorist who wanted to bring France to its knees. According to Imad’s desire and his love for the sea, his mortal remains are held in the cemetery of Mdiq in Morocco.

We, the Xaverian missionaries, who just arrived eight months ago in Fnideq, have been entrusted with the church of St. Francis of Mdiq, 22 kilometers from home, which has four regular Christians plus the three Xaverians. From the beginning we had told ourselves that one of our activities, in working fully with Muslim brothers and sisters, had to be to celebrate the day of Human Fraternity here. And little by little we have learned of Imad, that he was buried in Mdiq and that there is the Association Imad pour la jeunesse et la paix founded by his mother, Mme Latifa, in his honor and so that he continues to inspire others.

The task of this association is to make live a life experience for young people who find themselves with their dreams broken and without hope, as well as prey to terrorism. Mme. Latifa is a militant of fraternity, she travels through schools, universities, prisons and forums in France, and little by little she opens the hearts of others to the wealth of those who are different and to the love of what they are capable of. A simple woman, she wears a veil breaking schemes and her fight in the heart, to make a world where coexistence reigns in Peace.

By contacting her, she has let us know that she had been wanting to find the Christian community of Mdiq for years, hunger was combined with the desire to eat, and she quickly said yes to our proposal to celebrate the day of Human Fraternity, in the end it had to be via zoom due to covid and the closure of borders. However, we had proposed to celebrate a tribute to Imad, it has taken place in the Church of Mdiq, and on the same desire to transcribe what Mme Latifa has uploaded to her Facebook page about that endearing moment:
In the church of M’diq in Morocco with Father Rolando and his faithful as well as the Imams of the city, We lit a candle in memory of my son Imad, united in the same prayer, in the same emotion, in the same struggle, in fraternity.

It is an encounter of which I will keep the memory in the depths of my heart.

Thank you to the Christian and Muslim communities of M’diq for this beautiful moment.

It is a joy for me to build bridges and strengthen the bonds between religions.

In this celebration we have experienced God who wants us brothers and sisters making us always better people and thus the best Muslim Muslim and the best Christian Christian, living human fraternity and united to save the world giving each the best of ourselves and united by the hand.

Finally, to the question of many: What have the Xaverian Missionaries come to morocco to do? That, to strengthen ties, to live communion and encounter, to allow ourselves to be welcomed and welcomed, to discover in the other the beautiful presence of God who has created us and put us on earth to make the world a family of brothers and sisters. Some praise our presence and the only thing we can say is that we collect what, on the one hand, eight centuries of Franciscan presence has sown in this land, and on the other the combat that Mme. Latifa carries in her heart and with whom she sows good things; In the end, we, Xaverian missionaries, are humble servants of the eleventh hour at the service of the world and of the Church of Tangier, but joyful to be able to do so, knowing that many accompany us with their daily lives, prayer and dreams of seeing this world walk according to God.

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