Sultan and Saints Event - Interfaith through the ages

Celebration in Leeds

Last Saturday, a special event took place at the Shah Jalal Masjid in Leeds - the sharing of the Sultan and Saints story with communities. The story of an unlikely friendship between a Sultan and a Franciscan at the time of the Crusades. 100 Muslims and Christians disagreeing with each other- and making friends in the process.

The special friendship between St Francis of Assisi and the Muslim Sultan, Malik al Kamil of Egypt, during the Crusades was commemorated.

800 years ago, amid a dreadful period of suffering and warfare between the Christian Crusaders and Muslim army, a catholic priest, later known as St Francis, developed an unlikely and warm friendship with Malik al Kamil, the ruling Muslim Sultan of the time.

This interfaith encounter has since inspired friendship and dialogue across faiths and ethnic backgrounds and is still being remembered today by members in Leeds of the worldwide Anglican Society of Saint Francis.

The Revd John Bennett, Area Minister for the local Franciscan Third Order, said, “The story of St Francis and the Sultan demonstrates that despite differences in religion, people of prayer can find common ground in their experiences of God.”

“Dialogue demands that we really listen to each other. Before we can listen, we must see the other person as a precious human being, divinely loved."

The project will be featured in a BBC programme in the autumn.