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A Historic Trip to Damascus, Syria

 "Invite (all) to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and discuss with them in ways that are best and most gracious." Qur'an, 16:125.

Mufti-Schuller
Shaykh Ahmad Kuftaro and Dr. Robert Schuller

Congregation
Interfaith gathering at the Abu Nour Foundation, Damascus, Syria.

Dr. Robert Schuller, founder of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California and Shaykh Ahmad Kuftaro, the Grand Mufti of Syria have met in Damascus (December 1999) at the invitation of the Grand Mufti. The visit was the first step to work together under the banner of faith and better understanding between Christians and Muslims. This meeting was organized by the Center for Islamic Studies and Christians and Muslims for Peace organizations.

As a result of his visit, Dr. Robert Schuller called for an international Christian/Muslim conference to take place in Damascus in the year 2000 to kick off the 21st century with peace and understanding between Christians and Muslims. In an historic address at the Abu Nour Islamic Foundation, attended by over 15,000 people, including many officials, and leaders of the Christian denominations, his Excellency, Shaykh Ahmad Kuftaro told the congregation, "Muslims and Christians are in one camp," and that it is the duty of the clergymen from both faiths to establish not only peace, but also kindness and brotherhood for all mankind.

Dr. Schuller pointed out that we have a lot more in common to build on than differences. He also said that the 21st century should be a century of coalition and not collision between the followers of these two great religions. Dr. Schuller and his delegation met with the Secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches, Dr. Mahat Al Khuri, and the leaders of the four Christian dominations of Syria in their respective churches. Later, at the invitation of the Middle East Council of Churches, a dinner was held in the New Umaiyad Hotel in the honor of the American Delegation and the Grand Mufti.

During his visit to the Umaiyad Mosque, Dr. Schuller and his delegation were shown the tomb of John the Baptist within the Mosque and the original stone containers and the water well in which people were washed to be baptized. Dr. William Baker, founder of Christians and Muslims for Peace organization, CAMP, was interviewed for one hour on the TV program, Focus. Dr. Baker said: "CAMP has brought peace between fighting Christians and Muslims in the Philippenes and in other communities in the world."

The visit, which lasted 4 days, December 15 through 18th, 1999 marked the beginning of a new era for Muslims and Christians working together for peace and better relationships. The news of this event was broadcasted in the local papers, Orange County Register, and on CNN and the PBS television programs.

A Historic day at the Crystal Cathedral

Hands Clasped

Making History:
Christians and Muslims Working Together

"Invite (all) to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and discuss with them in ways that are best and most gracious." Qur'an, 16:125.


This wonderful passage, lays down the Islamic principles for interfaith and out-reach work. Wisdom and discretion, gentleness and consideration, are the grounds from which gracious work will surely change hearts and minds. Meeting people on their own level and introducing Islam to them with examples relevant to their own knowledge, which may be very narrow or very wide without dogmatic or offensive disposition, will surly make a difference and show the wisdom of the verse above.

The Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies proudly presents a 16 minute interfaith video clip, "Making History", portraying discussions between Shaykh Salah Kuftaro, Chief Director of Abu Anour Islamic Foundation, Damascus, Syria, and Dr. Robert Schuller, founder of the Crystal Cathedral, Garden Grove, California, and the host of the world wide TV show, "The Hour of Power." This video was aired in 200 countries around the world on 17th September 2000.

"I apologize to Islam for the Christian Crusades of 1065, let us begin a new crusade of comrade and friendship, we are in the same camp" Dr. Robert H. Schuller

A historical and unprecedented event took place at the Crystal Cathedral on September 10, 2000. For the first time two prominent leaders of Islam and Christianity met to share the common ground of their two faiths, which represent more than one half the world population.

Dr. Robert Schuller welcomed Sheik Salah Kuftaro, the son of Sheik Ahmad Kuftaro, the Grand Mufti of Syria on both of his Sunday televised services. Sheik Salah Kuftaro appeared on both the 9:30 and 11:00 a.m. services and told the 6000 Christian/Muslim/Jewish congregation, including a variety of religious leaders: "Islam is not a new religion, but that which completes the religions of Christ, Moses and Abraham. The fountain of these religions is Almighty Allah." He added that Prophet Muhammad said: "We the Prophets of God are brothers and the likeness of me and the prophets before me is like that of a beautiful building with one stone of it missing. I am the complete and final stone of this building." Sheik Salah said: "We, Muslims and Christians are in one camp."

Regarding the Grand Mufti of Syria, Sheik Ahmad Kuftaro, Dr. Schuller remarked: "I met the Pope on several occasions. I have never met a man of such spirituality and wisdom as that of your father. He is a spiritual giant."

Dr. Schuller then said: "Your father told me that the 17 million population of Syria are all Christians. Could you elaborate on that?" Sheik Salah said: "My father is absolutely correct. A Muslim cannot be a true Muslim if he or she does not believe in the Prophethood of Jesus, Moses, or any prophet of God. We Muslims honor, revere, and are inspired by Jesus, Moses, Abraham, as much as by Muhammad and the rest of the prophets of God."

When Dr. Schuller asked his guest, "Why is it that Muslims kill Christians and Christians kill Muslims?" Sheik Salah said: "Heavenly religions are like the rain. When the rain first comes it is clean and pure, but when it reaches people, we (people) pollute it. In Islam, we learn that no one person shall be killed for no reason, and he recited the verse: "If any one killed a person, it would be as if he kills the whole people, and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the whole people." He further said: "A Muslim must treat a Christian or a Jew with respect and kindness, which he would treat a Muslim." He related that Prophet Muhammad, before he ate his meal, asked whether or not his Jewish neighbor had received a portion of the food. If not he would not eat. "Sheik Salah said: "A building without maintenance deteriorates fast, especially when it is abused. Likewise, the building of our faiths gets abused. We the clergymen, have the duty to ensure that this building is pure, beautiful and well maintained."

Dr. Schuller then apologized for the Christian Crusader war and called on his son, Robert and Salah to start a new campaign of friendship. He said: "I Pray that you (Salah) and my son (Robert) start a new crusade of comrade and friendship, I apologize to Islam for the Crusades that the Christians started in 1065, we are in the same camp." We praise Dr. Schuller for his blessed remarks and his work for peace.

We praise Dr. Schuller for his blessed remarks and work for peac
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