Wonderful meeting today with Syria's Grand Mufti, Dr. Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun, who generously gave me over an hour of his time. This is a man whose immense wisdom and compassion needs to be heard throughout the world, and whose committed ideology of love and peace reflects the fabric of Syria and Syrians themselves, says Eva Bartlett, Co-founder, and Steering Committee member of the Syria Solidarity Movement International.
**Something I wrote after a Feb 2015 delegation meeting with the honourable Mufti Hassoun:
"Mufti Hassoun calls his Greek Orthodox counterpart, Bishop Luca al-Khoury, his cousin and brother. “Our grandfathers, 1,400 years ago, were one family. My grandfather embraced Islam and his remained Christian.” He maintains that he, as Grand Mufti, serves the Syrian people, period. “In Syria, there are 23 million Christians, and 23 million Muslims. My title is Grand Mufti of the Syrian Arab Republic, not the Mufti of a particular denomination.”
In the media war on Syria, which insists sectarianism—which the Syrian people reject—this declaration is significant: in Syria, the ancient cultural fabric is rich and secular.
Unlike the Saudi Mufti - who has reportedly said “all churches in the Arabian Peninsula must be destroyed” - Mufti Hassoun is open-minded and committed to unity of people (not only the Syrian people) - to the point of making light of some religious institutions' use of power: “God, is not a Christian or Muslim or a Jew. God is for all of us. Jesus was not a Catholic, nor an Orthodox, nor a Protestant. And Mohammed was not a Wahhabi, not a Sufi. We as religious clerics have divided you into sects, so that we become leaders of each sect. We whisper in the ears of politicians: if you support us, we will repay the favor.”
While Dr. Hassoun does not wield his influence in such a way, it is rare that a religious authority figure so candidly speaks of this potential abuse of power over their people. So what does he whisper in people's ears? He's not shy about it, he doesn't whisper:
Forgiveness. Understanding. Unity. Love. And like Shaaban (and most Syrians), solidarity with Palestinians in their struggle for liberation, and resistance to Israeli occupation, to extremism, and to the foreign invasion of secular Syria. At an Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran in January 2015, Hassoun urged Muslim leaders and scholars to unify, and highlighted, “the most dangerous thing we witness today is the use of religious jargon by people who do not know Islam, and the most dangerous is the name 'Islamic Caliphate'.”
Mufti Hassoun stresses the love and humanity aspects above all. “Syrian Sufism is a type of ideology that is based on loving others. Loving... no others. We believe there are no 'others', we are all human....."