The Sultan and the Saint docudrama highlights the power of respectful interfaith dialogue in the pursuit of peace at its Australian premiere on the 29th July.
Around 500 people attended the premiere at Western Sydney University’s Parramatta South Campus to witness one of the lost stories from history; the meeting between St Francis of Assisi and the Sultan of Egypt, Malik Al-Kmail.
The two religious men changed history almost 800 years ago when they went beyond war and intolerance rhetoric of the Fifth Crusade to find the central message of their religions: mercy, compassion and peace. A poignant retelling, where circumstances of the meeting mirrors the division and fear perpetuated in the world today.
That show of two people who meet to listen respectfully and that responsiveness to each other’s stories particularly resonates with Franciscan friar Br Matthew Beckmann OFM.
“This is something we are very bad at doing in our modern society, we are fearful of doing it.
“But the possibilities that spring from that encounter between the two is really worthwhile. The way in which they stood out was beautifully achieved in this film,” says Br Beckmann.
Executive Director of ISRA (Islamic Sciences and Research Academy of Australia), Associate Professor Mehmet Ozalp, labels the film’s story a reminder of the commitment to God and to peace.
“In the end, if we stand for religion, whether Christians or Muslims, we must see our religion as a way of transforming ourselves for the better,” says Assoc Prof Ozalp.
The film combines the scholarship of over two dozen sources in English and Arabic and includes voices representing Christian and Muslim traditions but guided by academic scholars who have spent years researching this history.
Director of the Columban Mission Institute and Coordinator of its Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations, Rev Dr Patrick McInerney SSC, gave thanks to those who made this production possible and for the interest of the religious and wider Australian public.
“You came here perhaps out of curiosity, out of interest, perhaps skeptical about Christian-Muslim relations, seeking inspiration, seeking hope for a better, more peaceful world.
Whatever your motivation for coming, I hope you leave charged with responsibility to promote peace among the members of our respective religions,” said Rev. Dr McInerney.
The screening was co-hosted by Affinity Intercultural Foundation, Catholic Diocese of Broken Bay, Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations, Diocese of Parramatta, Franciscan Provincial Office Australia, Islamic Sciences and Research Academy (ISRA), Uniting Church in Australia, and Western Sydney University.