Film: Indian theologians endorse The Sultan and the Saint

Victor Edwin SJ Secretary of the Islamic Studies Association in Delhi, India, writes:

The Sultan and the Saint docudrama was screened during the Fourth Seminar of the Forum For South Asian Jesuit Theologians that was held at Ashirwad, Bangalore from 29 April to 1 May. Around 15 participants including the eminent theologians Frs Michael Amaladoss and Sebastian Painadath.

Fr Amalados described the film as "an excellent movie." He said: "Apart from the fact that Francis met the Sultan, I didn't know about the other historical details. But the story has been well constructed to bring out how the encounter could have been the start of a new era of understanding between the Christians and Muslims. Francis emerge as a charismatic figure, inspired by the Gospel, but relating it to the historical circumstances. The contrast between the Pope and Francis is really striking. The mixing up of religion and politics is also well brought out. The Sultan too comes out as an enlightened and noble figure. The film is well taken. The message is clear. There are some powerful images. The film has great educational value. " Prof Amaladoss is the founder director of IDCR (Institute for Dialogue between Cultures and Religions), Chennai.

PR John, the present Dean of Vidyajyoti College of Theology, Delhi in his feedback said: "I was deeply moved by the movie. It's captivating, nurturing the hearts and minds of the viewers to respect the spaces of other faiths. The attitudes of both Francis and the Sultan are God centered, whereas Pope Innocent and Cardinal Pelegius were corruption rendered and self centered. The film has to be screened in schools, colleges and universities and launch a movement for peace and reconciliation."

Another viewer, Fr Ilanko, a doctoral student in Ignatian Spirituality (Jnana-Deepa DeepaVidyapeeth, Pune) felt that the Sultan and the Saint has a great educational value. He further added that the docudrama inspires the viewer to make efforts in small and big ways to promote Peace.

Karl Rahner Prize winner and Christology professor at Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pune, Fr Richard gave a long written feedback.

He wrote: "the docudrama THE SULTAN AND THE SAINT presents very significantly two messengers of peace and reconciliation: Francis of Assisi and the Sultan of Egypt Sultan Malik al-Kamil. The Kingdom of Christ is supposed to be peace and Islam itself means 'peace'. However, somehow Religion which is supposed to unite, became a cause of division. The Vicar of Christ, the Pope leads the hate campaign against Muslims by calling for Crusades.

"The basic longing of human heart is Peace: but because of superficiality and lack of depth, pride, ego, hatred triumph and that escalates into destruction. Jerusalem - a symbol of peace and holiness - becomes the cause of violence and destruction.

"The two great saints of the Crusades era - Francis of Assisi and Malik al-Kamil - propose, that through the instrumentality of peace and reconciliation, the kingdom of God - of love, peace, brotherhood can become a reality ...

"What the Church talks today of her Mission in terms of Interreligious Dialogue, was already initiated by these two saints. They mutually shared with one another the noble principles of their religious traditions. The Sultan sent food for enemies. Did this happen as a result of learning from Francis of Assisi, Jesus' commandment to love the enemies? Francis of Assisi incorporates in his rules the need of regular prayer that includes the names of God and tolerance, dialogue and reaching out to the Muslims. Was this the result of the influence of the Sultan on the Saint? I'm convinced that the answer in both cases is an emphatic YES.

Today the Church propagates dialogue and exhorts Christians to acknowledge, preserve and promote all the good found in other religions. These two Saints have already initiated the process. Let's join them."

As I have been screening to various audiences, I feel this docudrama is a mine, full of gems. Each viewer polishes one or the other jem that he /she finds. How privileged I am that God gives me an opportunity for such a great fare.

Next week, we begin a Summer School of Christian Muslim Relations at HMI, Hyderabad. The docudrama will be screened to the participants (we expect around 40) from different sister Churches. Let's keep one another in our prayers.

Watch a trailer for the film here:

Read more about the film here:

Tags: The Sultan and the Saint, St Francis, Sultan, Victor Edwin SJ, Muslim-Christian,

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