This is the first part of a series of discussions with the Grand Mufti in Damascus, October, 2016. He explains secularism in Syria, it’s not an ideology it’s the fabric of their life.
My words now, do they work inside this room, do they offer any benefit just inside this room? Yes, when I talk to people that will convey it outside this room. And you should tell people there is nothing as a religious state. There is nothing as such or there shouldn’t be anything like an Islamic state, or a Christian state or Jewish state, any state if it encompasses people, human beings live in states. So, a religious state is an idea of politicians not prophets, prophets created nations, created human beings not states. For example they created the Jewish nation, not the Jewish state. A Christian nation, a Muslim nation and these three nations should live altogether as brothers. In Aleppo there was a Jewish Synagogue, no one from the Jewish house stayed in Aleppo, now he [the Mufti] takes care of the Synagogue, so no one will do any damage to the Synagogue.
Four Churches now in Aleppo were attacked and destroyed by the terrorists. When we were with the British Delegation in Aleppo, they told us His Graciousness, His Holiness, he would take care of the expenses of rebuilding the Churches there, because the Church is for all of us, not only for Christians, it’s a Church for Syria. It’s a house of Lord and the Synagogue is also his Synagogue and the Mosque is the Mosque for Christians, Jewish and Muslims. In the United States Mullah [inaudible] wanted to go to build a Mosques and he didn’t have enough money so he got, received donations from Christians and Jewish to build the Mosque. Because they are building a house for God, for Lord, so human beings, all human beings can live there and go there. This language, he said that he’s speaking, politicians don’t know it, and they don’t like it.
In 2012 he was invited to go to the United States, many universities invited him, to deliver lectures, to give lectures there. So, he said send me the Visa, they told him please you have to go to the American Embassy either in Beirut of in Jordan, Amman, you will find the invitation there, at one of the Embassies. He said you have to invite the Patriarch to go with me, so they send an invitation to the Patriarch too and we went by plane from Damascus to Jordan, Amman and from Amman to New York. When he arrived in Amman they told him you have to visit, have to go to the Embassy, so he went to the Embassy, there was a first check point, a second check point, a third check point. He called them and he said, you invited the Grand Mufti of Syria, I am a religious man, why did you leave me in this bad way. They put him in a very small room, divided with glass, he sat on a chair waiting, no one with him. After awhile a woman finally talked to him through a microphone, he said, if my message wasn’t a message of love I would have left immediately, but I have a message of love.
Jesus Christ told us to talk to the lost souls, she asked him fifty questions, when she reached question forty she started crying. She said if it were up to me I wouldn’t have given you a Green Card for the United States but the State Department are the one’s asking me to do this to you, to talk to you from behind the glass and not to receive you with another person at the front door. You have the invitation but in the last twenty four hours they sent you all these questions and he asked her what about the Patriarch, she told him that the Patriarch already had his Visa and there was no need for him to come. This is the equality of democracy in the United States, he went out of the Embassy. The Patriarch was waiting for him at the door, they didn’t let the Patriarch go in the door of the Embassy although he already had his Visa, the Patriarch asked him one thing, and the Mufti said I’m going back to Syria because I know they will not let me go into the United States. He left his son because the Embassy asked the Mufti to go back after twenty four hours, so his son went to the Embassy, a clerk from the Embassy told him they’ll seek a response from the State Department that he is not qualified to visit the United States.