Southern Region Celebration
Francis and Sultan Malik al-Kamil
on Saturday 10th August 2019
What can we learn from their meeting in 1219?
On Saturday 10th August 2019, the Southern Region held an event at Holly Barn on the Wintershall Estate to commemorate and celebrate the 800th meeting of St. Francis and Malik al-Kamil, the Sultan of Egypt, during the 5th Crusade.
The day was led by Kathy Maskens, National Vice-Minister, and was attended by 36 people, who braved extreme weather conditions to participate in this day of reflection in the heart of the beautiful Surrey countryside.
During the morning session, Kathy introduced and showed the film ‘The Sultan and the Saint’ and we discussed our immediate responses to the film before breaking for lunch. In the afternoon, we broke into small groups to discuss the what we could learn from that historic meeting for the world we live in today, a world still sadly riven with conflict and violence. There was then a plenary session followed by a closing ceremony which included readings and reflections from the faith traditions of Islam and Christianity. We were invited to reflect on what we had experienced during the day and make a personal commitment to do something that would take us further along the path of justice, peace and understanding of people of other faiths.
The following is a sample of feedback from our discussion groups at the plenary session about what was learned from the film for the world we live in today: –
• to listen, learn and treasure, and respect other faiths
• to find the goodness in people despite their sinfulness (failings)
• to look beyond the externals to the inner person where God dwells.
• to be open…..make the first move, speak out, listen, love, care and be prepared to suffer
• Francis and the Sultan had so much in common – their spirituality, humanity and compassion
• Christians and Muslims can live in peace – and they do
• people can so easily be dehumanised
• we were taught in school (Catholic) that the Crusades were a good thing
• Francis was influenced by the Muslim prayer life.
• the universality of God overarching both traditions, and Francis and the Sultan had great trust in God and each other
• even in the culture of war, both men were prepared to learn from each other, and took huge risks for the sake of peace
• the influence of mothers and respect for each other`s faith
• for us today – try to look at both sides of an argument – empathise with the other. Understanding mercy rather than judgement. It starts with us – to take responsibility for our choices and actions
• to meditate on the 99 names of God is a means of transformation
• the love and forgiveness that the Sultan showed to the Crusaders
• Francis and the Sultan were brothers