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Shaykh Ahmad Kuftaro (R. `a.)

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MessaggioInviato: Mer Apr 30, 2008 10:29 pm    Oggetto: Shaykh Ahmad Kuftaro (R. `a.) Rispondi citando

Shaykh Ahmad Kuftaro (R. `a.)
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His Eminence, Sheikh Ahmad Muhammad Amin Kuftaro, the Grand Mufti of Syria, Head of the Supreme Council of Fatwa, was born in Damascus in 1915, son of Muhammad Amin Kuftaro (1875-1938), a great Muslim scholar of his day. Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro studied privately with the most renowned Jurists and scholars in Damascus, and holds several honorary doctorates in the principles and teaching of Islam, granted to His Eminence by universities throughout the Islamic world. Since 1938, at the death of his father, he has been, teaching in AbuNour mosque, preaching and calling for the pursuit of the universal knowledge, freedom of religion, moral rearmament among the Muslims of the world, interfaith cooperation, and, more recently, for protection of the global environment and for American moral leadership in the world.

In 1946, at the age of 31, he was a founding member of the League of Muslim Scholars, and in 1951 was appointed Mufti of Damascus.

In 1958, he was appointed First Mufti of Damascus and a member of the Supreme Council of Fatwa. In 1964, he was elected Grand mufti of Syria and Head of the Supreme Council of Fatwa as well as of the Supreme Council of Waqf (religious endowments).

In 1968 he was awarded the Sitaret Pakistan Medal. Medal of justice by the Padistany president Ayoub Khann.

In 1968, he was awarded his first honorary Ph.D. in the Science of Islamic Da'wa by the Indonesian University of Jakarta.

The foundation principle underlying all of Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro's work is the obligation of every person to pursue in balance and harmony the three kinds of knowledge inherent in the classical Arabic word for education: thaqafa. These are: 1. Knowledge of the world gained through the scientific method, known as 'ain al yaqin', which was a pillar of the classic Islamic civilization of a millennium ago and the principal contribution of Islam to European civilization. 2. Knowledge of the purpose of everything in Creation, known as 'haqq al yaqin', including the history of mankind, which is gained primarily through the Divine Revelation that has been granted by the Creator through Messengers to all human civilization, and which was the dynamo of the Islamic civilization flowering in the early Islamic period of global history before reverence for truth and purpose declined; and 3. Indirect knowledge gained through the use of the human intellect, largely in the form of the maqasid or universal principles of shari'ah thought, in processing the first two direct sources of knowledge. This third source of knowledge, known as 'ilm al yaqin' in turn, is critically important for increasing our knowledge of the universe gained through scientific observation, as well as our understanding of true knowledge at the highest level, which is ultimate meaning and purpose, granted by Allah through the "eye of the heart". After leaving this world, every person's knowledge will proceed from intellectual understanding, 'ilm al yaqin', to direct spiritual vision, 'ain al yaqin', of reality and truth, as promised in Surah al Takathur of the Quran. In the world, the product of all three of these kinds of knowledge is akhlaq or the development of virtuous character, which should be the core of all education. The mission of Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro in pursuing this primary goal is reflected in his life-long organizational activism in the field of education. In 1971, he established the Abu Nour Islamic Foundation, which opened the four-year Kulliya Da'wa al Islamiya (Islamic Call College) in 1982, with branches of Lebanon Al-Ouzai College of Islamic Studies, and Pakistan Islamic Studies University, both started in 1989, as well as a branch, granting the M.A. degree, in 1992 at the Um-Durman College of Sudan. In 1992, the Foundation also started the four-year Kulliya Usul Al-Din College in Damascus, which now has more than one hundred students studying for the M.A. degree and the first ones now studying for a Ph.D. in Islamic law. In 1994 Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro opened the An Nour Institute for Islamic Studies and Arabic Languages in Baltimore, Maryland. Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro has received honorary doctorates for both his academic and organizational work over the years, the most recent one in Islamic jurisprudence from the Islamic University of Um-Durman during a visit in July 1994.

Freedom of Religion
For more than a quarter century of Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro's life was filled with his battle for freedom of religion under Communism before its demise. In 1969, he met in Moscow with the chairman of the ministerial Department of Religion and arranged to have many mosques opened in Central Asia and helped finance the opening of the Supreme Islamic Institute in Tashkent. He lectured often in the Soviet Union at such events as the "Islamic Conference" at Pako in October, 1986.

In 1989, he lectured widely in the Soviet Union as part of the spiritual renaissance that led a year later to its demise. One top official, after meeting with His Eminence Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro, declared to him, "I am now a believer."

Since the end of Communism, Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro has continued to be very active in reviving Islam throughout the Former Soviet Union. In 1992, he started the first ten-week Imam's Summer School to train imams from the Caucasus and Central Asia at his Abu Nour Kulliya Da'wa al Islamiya in Damascus. In 1995, this "crash course" had 150 participants.

In 1993, he expanded his efforts in the former Yugoslavia by heading the Syrian Islamic Delegation to the "Muslim Conference for Bosnia" held in Istanbul, Turkey.

In 1994, Sheikh Ahmad headed a Meeting of Muslim University Professors in Delhi and met India's President, Foreign Minister, and Speaker of the Parliament to express his support for religious freedom in Kashmir.

His concerns for freedom of religion in Muslim countries led His Eminence Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro to speak out at an International Religious Conference in Khartoum, the Sudan, in November 1991, where he met the leaders of many religious faiths and delivered the address "Meeting for Peace."

Da'wa Among Muslims
The support of human rights is central in all true Islamic thought. This has helped to motivate Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro throughout his life to call Muslims in every way possible to the pure Islam of the Prophetic period.

In 1957, he lectured at Al Azhar University at the invitation of the Egyptian government. In 1962, he attended the 5th Session of the Islamic World Conference (ICO) in Baghdad, and in 1970 led a delegation to its plenary meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia.

In 1965, he was elected to the Central Council of the Afro-Asian Islamic Organization in Bandung, Indonesia, and in 1967 represented Syria at its plenary in Jakarta, Indonesia.

In 1972-74, he lectured at various Islamic conferences in Algeria, Iran, and India, and in 1976 represented Syria in Saudi Arabia at the First Conference for the Message of the Mosque. In 1995, he visited King Fahd of Saudi Arabia while making Umrah (the Lesser Pilgrimage) to organize support for the enlightened education of Muslims throughout the world.

Interfaith Work
The major commitment of Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro throughout his life has been to interfaith understanding and cooperation in pursuit of peace, even at times when this commitment was not widely understood or appreciated.

In 1954, he was a member of the Syrian delegation to a Muslim-Christian conference held in Lebanon.

Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro has lectured widely on interfaith cooperation as the framework and engine of peace throughout the world, including a speech at Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in 1966 and a number of lectures at the University of Vienna and other places at the invitation of Cardinal Koening of Austria in 1979. One of these talks, "Islam and Christianity: Two Faiths, One God." where he pursued interfaith cooperation in both East and West. On April 17, 1980, by invitation of the Vice President of East Germany, he met with a delegation from the Theology Department of the University of Berlin and produced with them an official Protestant statement that God is One and that Jesus and Muhammad (peace be on them) were both Messengers of God.

In 1981, he addressed the Academy of Sciences in Moscow on "Islam and Peace". and at the Inter-Religious Conference in May 1982, in Moscow, he delivered an address on "The Principles of Peace in the World's Religions." designed to increase the awareness among professional clergy of their unique responsibilities to help prevent the development of events that can bring on nuclear war.

In 1983 and 1986, he represented the Association of Syrian Scholars at a similar conference in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and in 1984, again in Moscow.

In particular, he has worked with officials of the Roman Catholic Church to develop rapprochement in the pursuit of justice and peace. In December, 1985, he lectured at a number of its universities throughout Italy, including a lecture in Milan on "Islam and Religious Tolerance", and visited His Holiness Pope John Paul II prior to giving an address at the Vatican on "The International Prospects of Islam and Christianity".

He also gave an address in Khartoum, on religious cooperation as the only effective strategy to assure that minorities have equal rights with the majority and that freedom of religion includes the right and duty of Christians to serve in high governmental posts in a majority-Muslim government, based entirely on a single standard of competence. He visited the Sudan again on similar matters in 1994 and 1995.

In March, 1993, he was named Chairman of the Religious Delegation of the Arab League to the "Peace for Humanity Conference" in Vienna, Austria, where he gave a lecture entitled "Brothers Under the Banner of Faith, The Banner of Jesus and Muhammad."

Global Environmental Stewardship
The long-standing concern of His Eminence Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro to protect the physical environment of the earth caused him to be appointed Co-Chairman for the Religious Position at the "Global Forum on Environment and Development for Human Survival, held in 1988 at Oxford University, U.K. Although he unfortunately was unable to attend this meeting, he was elected Chairman for the Religious Discussion at this organization's subsequent conference in January, 1990, in Moscow, where he gave a speech, in the Kremlin, entitled "The Responsibility of Man Towards Himself" at its 1993 meeting in April, held in Kyoto, Japan, he was elected Chairman of the Religious Caucus and delivered a speech, "The Eternal Values" during the "Second Global Forum on Changing Values for Human Survival."

In 1990, he began close cooperation with spiritual leaders in the Far East, visiting Tokyo to attend a meeting that led in 1993 to the establishment of the Global Forum Conference in Kyoto. In August, 1991, he gave a speech, to the Oomoto people in Kameoka, Japan; was Guest of Honor at an inter-religious conference in Seoul, Korea, a week later; and on his way home addressed several gatherings of thousands of Muslims in China.

In 1992, he was invited by the United Nations to lead the religious session at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and address world leaders with his essay, entitled "The Abrahamic Religions: Common Roots and Shared Responsibilities." He was unable to attend personally due to a back operation. In November of 1993, in Ayabe, Japan. he gave some specific proposals for action, together with an introductory talk, entitled "Faith and the Unity of the Human Family".

American Moral Leadership
The first visit of Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro to America was in 1966, when, at the invitation of the North Lake College Association, from April through June, he gave more than forty-four lectures in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan, educating students and church members about Islam and justice in Palestine. In recent years, Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro has come to believe strongly that America can recover its religious heritage and share the Islamic heritage in order to renew global civilization in the Twenty-First Century. Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro with Dr. Robert Schuler head of the crystal church in the United States, During Dr. Schuler's visit to Damascus. He acted on this belief in June, 1989, by a two-week visit, sponsored by the U.S. State Department, to lecture and visit many religious centers and leaders in Washington D.C., Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Florida, and Texas. In August, 1990, he attended "The Assembly of the World's Religions" in San Francisco, where he gave several lectures, entitled, "Spirituality in the 21st Century" and "The Quran Extends its Helpful Hand to All Mankind." In December, 1992, he was invited to a religious conference to be held in Greece, to give a lecture entitled "The Conscience in Islam"; however, the Mufti was unable to attend due to poor health and the speech was sent to New York the home of the invitation and delivered in absentia. In 1993, Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro's Abu Nour Center opened a branch in Baltimore, Maryland, the An Nour Institute, and sent it a short message. The chronological evolution of Sheikh Ahmad's priorities throughout his life shows that he first focused inwardly on rebuilding Islam through education, freedom of religion, and Da'wa among Muslims, and then shifted his focus outwardly through Islam to rebuild the world through interfaith cooperation, stewardship of the earth, and developing a moral leadership for the twenty-first century.

Passing away of grand mufti
In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate "Give glad tidings to the patient ones, when they are visited by an affliction say, 'Surely we belong to Allah and to Him will we return' These will have blessings and mercy from their Lord, and these are the truly guided." (Qur'an) The Syrian Ministry of Waqf, The Supreme Council of Fatwa, The Muslim Scholars, Sheikhs and Clerics, The International Islamic Organizations, Councils and Foundations, The Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro Foundation, The Kuftaro family members, With great regret and sorrow announce the passing away of: Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro The Grand Mufti of Syria, the Head of the Supreme Council of Fatwa on Wednesday September 1st 2004, Rajab 17th 1425. We pray Allah, the Almighty, to have mercy on his soul and enter him the Gardens of Paradise. The funeral prayer will take place after the Zuhr prayers at 1.30 p.m. in the Omayad Mosque. The procession will move to the Misat square near the Syrian Ministry of Waqf, then to Abunour mosque (on foot). Condolences will be received at the Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro Foundation, Abu Nour Mosque, Shamdeen Square, Damascus, 7.30-9.30 p.m., 2nd - 4th. September 2004. The Visitors' Entrance is the southern gate of the Foundation.


Sheikh Ahmed Kuftaro (R. `a.)

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Known affectionately by thousands in Syria and around the world as “Samahtu Shaykh” -- which literally meaning something akin to ‘His Eminence’ in English -- Sheikh Ahmed Kuftaro, the Grand Mufti of Syria, passed away in Damascus, leaving behind a legacy very few men can rival in this day and age. He was, in the oft-used expression, many things to many people: Mufti, scholar, Sufi sheikh, Interfaith advocate, and beloved husband, father and grandfather. His legacy is as tangible as the huge Abu Nur mosque and institute nestled in the foothills of Mt Kasyun, and as widespread as the international community of Muslims he helped teach and inspire during a career spanning over fifty years.

Born in 1912 in the Abu Nur neighborhood, which would later be known primarily for Sheikh Ahmed and the Abu Nur institute he originated and presided over, he was the son of noted scholar and head of the Naqshbandi tariqa, Sheikh Amin Kuftaro. Before Sheikh Amin’s death in 1938, it was clear he had designated his son, Sheikh Ahmed, to take over his office as sheikh of the Tariqa. Before the age of thirty, Sheikh Ahmed assumed the mantle of Murshid of the Tariqa. Several years later, owing in great part to his remarkable memory and scholastic prowess, he assumed the position of Grand Mufti of Damascus in 1951. By 1963 he became Grand Mufti of Syria. Whether he liked the idea or not, he was thrust into prominence in the corridors of power. In his position as Grand Mufti he would be Syria’s de facto representative of Islam in an Arab world that was turning ever more secular and politicized. Sheikh Ahmed did not shy from such responsibilities. Over the years, amidst the power struggles and sometimes bloody sectarian strife that rocked the Middle East, the Sheikh would become well known for his pragmatism. Many are the stories circulated about the Mufti’s use of wisdom, foresight and humor to represent Islam. He repeatedly emphasized the need for sane and balanced discussion at a time when many chose more violent courses of action. When, for example, he met with Syrian President Hafiz al-Asad during the Islamic Revolution in Iran, he was asked pointedly and in rather veiled language whether anyone was thinking of becoming Ayatollah of Syria. The reference was clearly aimed directly at the Mufti. Sheikh Ahmed thought for a moment and answered, “There can’t be an ayatollah in Syria, because there isn’t a Shah …” The president laughed and the matter was dropped.

It was Sheikh Ahmed’s diplomatic finesse that enabled him to handle both the affairs of his religious office and the more politicized affairs of state, and to chart a course for Islam in Syria without compromising the tenets of faith. Abu Nur Institute remained open in Syria during times when radical Islam and the Baathist regime were at logger-heads. Even today, it remains open for classes, worship and gatherings of dhikr in an age where most mosques are closed between prayers and after Isha.

It is his role in Interfaith and ecumenical dialogue that is perhaps best remembered. He tirelessly emphasized the similarity between the world’s major monotheistic religions in order to bring about constructive dialogue. He was invited to many countries around the world as an unofficial ambassador of Islam. These visits culminated in 1985 with a visit to the Pope in Rome. Even in his later years, as his health began to wane, he made a point of traveling around the world to speak on Islam and its role in the brotherhood of humanity.

During most of his life he also gave weekly lectures before Juma’ prayer every Friday. Leaders of Islamic and other religious institutions were often invited to speak alongside the sheikh at these weekly majalis. Guests over the years included the late Sheikh Ahmed Yasin, the controversial Louis Farrakhan, Sheikh Nazim al-Qubrusi and Sheikh Habib Ali Jifri. Often well known spiritual leaders of other faiths were invited to speak as well. These gatherings were presented to a packed mosque, and offered simultaneous translations in English, Russian and French and broadcast on local television. The kernel of these lectures was the sheikh’s ongoing commentary of the Qur’an which he managed to complete more than four times during a long and productive life.

Nor was the sheikh averse to controversy. In his tireless role as inter-faith advocate he announced during the sixties that Abu Nur was commemora-ting the birth of Christ and he invited leaders from the Syrian and Lebanese Christian communities. An uproar naturally ensued, but left no doubt who ecumenical dialogue’s strongest supporter was. A later comment on the nature of Jesus perhaps summarized Sheikh Ahmed’s views most succinctly: “If a Muslim does not acknowledge Sayyidna Isa (Jesus), then his Islam is for naught.”

His travels as a representative of such tolerant Islam took him to Europe, the States and Japan, among other places. In 1990 he was invited to address the Assembly of World Religions sponsored by the United Nations in San Francisco. The lectures he gave on Islam and inter-faith topics were collected and translated into a volume entitled: The Way of Truth.

Although he was often criticized for being too political or overly compromi-sing in his dealings with political figures, Sheikh Ahmed commented: “Islam and political authority are twins, neither one thrives without the other. Islam is the foundation, whilst power is its guardian. Whatever lacks a foundation, crumbles and whatever lacks power is waylaid.”

The Sheikh’s long and productive life bequeaths a substantial legacy to the Muslim community worldwide and to those striving to recognize mankind’s similarities rather than differences.

A virtual library of video and audio lectures during the course of his life, in addition to books such as The Way of Truth, Min Hadi al-Qur’an al-Karim (his Friday tafsir lessons) and a selection of the Hikam ‘Ata’iyya are perhaps the least of his contributions. His true legacy lies in the hearts of the millions he touched through his life as a spiritual guide, teacher and ambassador of Islam. It is fitting testament that the neighborhood where he was born, the Abu Nur district, which was originally named after an officer under the command of Saladin; should become so intimately connected with Sheikh Ahmed Kuftaro. Yet another mantle has been passed on, and worn with dignity, wisdom and faith.

Samahtu Sheikh Ahmed Kuftaro is succeeded by his son, Salah Kuftaro. May he continue upon the path blazed by his illustrious father. Even the most optimistic of us though, can’t help but feel that one light of nobility, learning and faith has gone out. Allah yarhumu.


Shaykh Ahmad Kuftaro (rahimahullah)
by Gibril Fouad Haddad
(Obituary originally written by request of Islamica Magazine)

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Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim

Samahat al-Mufti Ahmad ibn Shaykh Amin Kuftaro ibn Mulla Musa al-Kurdi al-Shafi`i (1912-2004) was born in Damascus the capital of Syria, on Mount Qasyoun, in the neighborhood of Abu al-Nur named after one of the officers of Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi (the great saintly and scholarly leader "Saladin"), Abu al-Nur Qaraja al-Salahi, in the district known as al-Salihiyya or "The Righteous District," in reference to the many friends of Allah that are buried there.

In 1927 Shaykh Ahmad's father, Shaykh Amin Kuftaro (d. 1938) succeeded Shaykh Amin al-Zamalkani as head of the Tariqa Naqshbandiyya in Damascus. The latter had succeeded the great Shaykh `Isa al-Kurdi (d. 1911). Shaykh Ahmad benefited from his father's guidance and was helped by a prodigious memory. He memorized the Qur'an at an early age and about ten thousand verses of poetry on the various sciences of the Shari`a according to the old mnemonic methods that put all the important mother-texts (ummahat al-mutun) into verse for easier memorization.

Shaykh Ahmad lived through the great upheavals of his country: the two world wars, the departure of the Turks from Damascus in the year 1920 and the coming of the French in the name of protectorate, followed by the Syrian insurgency against the French occupation - actively supported by the great Ulema of the time - until the last French soldier left in the year 1946, eleven years after the death of the great Sufi hadith Master Shaykh Badr al-Din al-Hasani who had been a key inspiration in the insurgency. Shaykh Ahmad no doubt viewed his own Fall, 2003 fatwa approving of any attacks on the American occupants in Iraq as a revival of that legacy.

Shaykh Ahmad's father married him with a Kurdish woman from a pious family when he turned 16. She was 14 and bore him all his children, nine boys and three girls. Shaykh Ahmad also took a second wife later in life.

In 1935, three years before Shaykh Amin died, when Ahmad was only 23, Shaykh Amin had alread chosen him to succeed him in the office of spiritual guide or Murshid in the Tariqa. Shaykh Ahmad climbed the echelons of leadership and not only succeeded his father but became in 1951 Mufti of Damascus then, in 1963, Grand Mufti of the Syrian Arab Republic. From its beginnings as a place of worship and retreat the mosque of Abu al-Nur developed into an institute for religious education in 1975 (the Ma`had for men and women), and a charity, Jam`iyyat al-Ansar al-Khayriyya.

Shaykh Ahmad played a lively advisory role at different levels of power in Syria and the Arab world, notably through his long-time friendship with the late President Hafiz al-Assad, without taking sides nor espousing particular views beyond the overriding imperative fostered by the Rabitat al-Ulama': to protect and strengthen Islam in the society and the individual. He summarized his political philosophy thus: "Islam and political authority are twins, neither of which thrives without the other. Islam is the foundation and power the guardian. What lacks foundation crumbles and what lacks a guardian gets waylaid." Thus it is both as a Muslim and an Arab that he reiterated time and again to his audiences at home and abroad, especially in the United States, the responsibility of the world to help the Palestinians in their plight.

In 1979 an assassination attempt against three of Shaykh Ahmad's sons took the life of one of them, his anticipated successor of accomplished learning, Shaykh Zahir. But the Shaykh's mettle was tested to the limit by the dark years of 1980-1982 during which he pleaded for moderation and strove to spare the religious institutions and symbols of his country the irrevocable damage caused by the fitna. After the Shaykh passed away he was succeeded by his youngest son, Shaykh Salah.

In his lifetime of weekly one-to-two-hour pre-Jumu`a lectures in commentary of the Qur'an at Abu al-Nur Mosque, Shaykh Ahmad concluded no less than four full commentaries of the Qur'an, broadcast to the four levels of the 15,000-capacity mosque by close-circuit TV and simulatenously translated into English, French, and Russian. This feat is recorded in audio and video in full. One of the students of the Shaykh published an anthology of these lessons under the title Min Hadyi al-Qur'an al-Karim, possibly the only book published under the name of the Shaykh. Shaykh Ahmad liberally shared the podium with various guests from all over the world whom he would have address the congregation, from the late Shaykh Ahmad Ya Sin to American televangelists and Louis Farrakhan to Sufi Shuyukh such as al-Habib `Ali al-Jafri and my own beloved teacher, Shaykh Nazim, whom Samahat al-Mufti affectionately nicknamed the Shaykh of Shaykhs.

Shaykh Amin's original didactic method had been summed up by one book in particular: Imam al-Sha`rani's al-Mizan al-Kubra, written as a defense and illustration of the Four Sunni Schools against fanatical allegiance to a particular school and a defense of sufism. Similarly Shaykh Ahmad de-emphasized Madhhabism as can be gleaned by Abu al-Nur's comparative approach to the teaching of Islamic law. To the President of Iran, al-Khatami, who had requested him to add the fifth, twelver-Imami School of law to the syllabus the Mufti reportedly replied, tongue in cheek, "I thought you were going to help me do away with differences and divisions but you are asking me to add to them instead!"

But Shaykh Ahmad's greatest innovation, no doubt, was his stand for inter-faith dialogue, "actively striving to unite the human family... [and] working to achieve better understanding and cooperation amongst the people of the heavenly religions" in the words of his website []. One day in the sixties, before his fifty-third year, he announced that his mosque would celebrate the birth of Christ and he invited the Christian religious leaders of Syria and Lebanon to the celebration. A scandal ensued, fanned by naysayers on both sides. When the dust settled Shaykh Ahmad had become the single most powerful interlocutor of the Christians in the Muslim world.

This rhetorical gift ultimately led to his official invitation to the Vatican where John Paul II received him in 1985, one in a series of historical meetings and travels to the United States, Eastern and Western Europe, Japan, and elsewhere. Shaykh Ahmad attended fifty-five international conferences out of a total of two hundred invitations, including a June, 1989, two-week lecture tour sponsored by the U.S. State Department to religious centers and leaders in Washington D.C., the Northeast, and Florida. In 1990 he gave two seminal talks at the United Nations-sponsored Assembly of World Religions in San Fransisco: "The Quran Extends its Hand to Mankind" and "Spirituality in the Twenty-First Century." [More at

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] His summation of this message can be seen in his address titled "Islam and Christianity: Two Religions, One God" [
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Samahat al-Mufti often recalled that the Pope had said to him, "Every day I read the Qur'an." His repartee came in the form of an answer to an European ambassador that had asked him, "What is the Christian population of Syria?" "Fourteen million," the Mufti answered - meaning, its totality instead of the expected 14% of the country! He then explained: "Any Muslim that does not believe in our liege-lord the Christ, his Islam is nil." Sahih. May Allah have mercy on this extraordinary leader of wisdom, learning, and good humor in our time who strove to address each segment of humankind in the fittest way he saw for its advancement out of the darkness of disbelief and into the light of faith.


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