Incense

INCENSE

Incense is a substance producing a pleasant aroma when burned. Yuhanna ibn Abi Zakariyya ibn Sabba‘ (14th century), the author of a book called in the Ecclesiastic Science, mentioned that four sorts of incense are permitted in the Coptic Church: sandarac, benzoin, aloe, and olibanum. The first had never been offered to idols. Olibanum was offered to but is offered to as the creator of heaven and earth. The aloe and the benzoin are the most fragrant aromats.

This incense is offered in the same way as the magi offered a gift of frankincense to Christ, having seen his star in the east. Mikha’il, Metropolitan of Damietta (12th century), mentioned among the exclusively Coptic observances that he offered the incense of sandarah only, and argues against using olibanum or mi‘ah (styrax) because they were used in the offering of incense to idols. Regarding aloe wood and mastic, he says that the Fathers did not allow these to be offered as incense to God, but that they were later permitted because they were believed to repel devils and destroy the works of the magicians.

GAWDAT GABRA