In the political climate of 2017, it can seem unlikely that Christians and Muslims would be able to come together for the common good of the global community. Rewind to the 13th century, in the middle of the Fifth Crusade, when Europeans were set to take control of the Holy Land by overpowering a Muslim empire, for a seldom-told story about finding peace at enemy lines, brought to light on Sunday, March 19 at Lourdes University, during the area premiere of docudrama The Sultan and the Saint.
Highlighting a history of peace
The new film aims to illuminate the little-known story of how Saint Francis of Assisi risked his life by walking across enemy lines to discuss peace with the Sultan of Egypt, Muslim ruler Al-Malik al-Kamil. The interfaith understanding that resulted, helped to bring an end to the Fifth Crusade.
The Toledo premiere of The Sultan and the Saint, free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Sylvania Franciscan Village, the United Muslim Association of Toledo and the Franciscan Action Network.
Narrated by Jeremy Irons, the film, set in 1219, has a message of peace with significant value 800 years later. “The Sultan and the Saint seems very fitting for this time of turmoil that’s going on in our country,” said Sophia Lloyd, director of the Sylvania Franciscan Village. “We felt that it was a good opportunity to bring people together, to realize that in learning from Francis we can really find ways to find peace in today’s environment.”
“What we have to remember is that during the time of Francis and the Sultan, they were going through wars,” added Lloyd. “They were two individuals who were able to find, in their own individual faith, a place to make peace with one another. We feel like that’s appropriate in this day and age.”
A timely story
Dr. M.Y. Ahmed helped to coordinate the local screening. A Muslim, Dr. Ahmed was born in India but has lived in Toledo for more than 40 years. “There are extremists on both sides, and I thought this would be a good thing to promote mutual understanding and peace,” he said. “No matter how many differences we have as religious people, I think we should always come with peace and love. I think that’s the best solution for all the
problems we have.”
Dr. Ahmed said he believes the Toledo community already has a solid foundation of understanding between Muslims and Christians. “I think it’s a great relationship and I’m proud of Toledo,” he said. “Personally, I haven’t had any problems. There may be a few incidents here and there, but the majority of Christians, Muslims and Jews want love and peace.”
An important conversation
Plans are in the works to follow up the screening with opportunities for Christian-Muslim dialogue to build upon the themes addressed in The Sultan and the Saint. “There is a curriculum we’re looking at that would allow for people to come together from both faith traditions to explore deeper in dialogue,” Lloyd said. “What does the Christian faith entail? What does the Muslim faith entail? That process also includes visiting the other worship space. It really is bigger than just the film. The film itself creates the space where we can come together in unity and to identify other people who want to walk in unity with our Muslim brothers and sisters.”
4:30pm. Sunday, March 19.
Lourdes University Franciscan Center
6832 Convent Blvd. | Sylvania | 419-824-3961 | sultanandthesaintfilm.com
While this event is free and open to the public, reservations are strongly encouraged
and can be made at SultanSaintToledo.eventbrite.com.