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Join us to commemorate the important moment when Francis of Assisi and the Sultan of Egypt met on a bloody battlefield during the Crusades.

Join us as we watch together The Sultan and The Saint – a fascinating one-hour documentary that captures the search for peace between Christian and Muslim communities in a time of rising Islamophobia. Dinner and panel follow screening.

4 p.m. to 7 p.m. | Sunday, January 26 | Free | RSVP required at mcceastbay.org/dialogue

MCC Congregation: This will be a popular event for our congregation, interfaith partners, and our larger Tri-Valley community. We have limited space. We ask that you attend this event only when accompanying a friend, co-worker, or neighbor of another faith. This will be a wonderful opportunity for you both to break bread and dialogue!

Event sponsored by Saint Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Livermore and the Muslim Community Center – East Bay in Pleasanton

  • 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. – Movie screening at the MCC
  • 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. – Dinner & Maghrib sunset prayer
  • 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. – Panel discussion with Rev. Andy Lobban and Dr. Ali Ataie

Questions? events@mcceastbay.org

In the year 1219, during the height of the bloody Christian-Muslim conflict known as the Crusades, Francis of Assisi risked his life by walking across enemy lines to meet the Sultan of Egypt, the Muslim ruler Al-Malik al-Kamil.

This remarkable encounter, and the commitment to peace of the two men behind it, presented an alternative to the persistent call for war.

About the Film
The Sultan and The Saint” tells one of the great, lost stories from history. Set during the terrible time of the Crusades, it speaks with urgency to our present. Two men of faith, one an itinerant Christian preacher, the other the ruler of a Muslim Kingdom, bucked a century of war, distrust, and insidious propaganda in a search for peace.

It is the story of Francis of Assisi and the Sultan of Egypt, and their meeting on a bloody battlefield, when one of the largest Crusader armies ever assembled tried to conquer Egypt. This is big history, important history. Not only does it speak directly to some of the East-West conflicts of today, the story itself is very dramatic with many fascinating twists and turns, and with central characters who are more compelling than even their legends claim.

On one hand there is Francis, a starry-eyed would-be knight in provincial Assisi, captured as a prisoner of war and imprisoned for a year, then released as an abused victim of violence, whose one solution to witnessing so much hatred was a radical reorganization of his life and values.

And there is a forgotten Muslim prince, the young nephew of the brilliant Saladin, Richard the Lionheart’s famous opponent, who was raised in the Sultan’s palace and groomed for the throne in an education steeped in Islamic learning. Two more unlikely protagonists are hard to imagine. And yet the meeting between these two men, at a crossroads moment, changed history.

The film sheds light on the crusades origins of dehumanizing rhetoric towards non-Europeans and non-Christians and how this language tapped into something primal and dangerous and violent in the human mind. The Crusades resulted in four generations of escalating conflict that was directed not only at Muslims, but also Jews, Orthodox Christians in the East, and eventually other Western Europeans.

It seemed to have no end. But then — while sliding on the evermore slippery road to apocalypse — Francis of Assisi undertook one of the bravest risks in the history of peacemaking by crossing enemy lines to meet with the Sultan of a supposedly cruel and Satanic enemy.

The Sultan responded with one of the greatest humanitarian acts in the history of warfare by saving the hated Crusaders from starvation when the flooding of the

Nile trapped their army of 50,000. And finally, that this little known encounter between these two men helped suck the venom out of the conflict and ultimately ended this seemingly endless war.

Not only is the story itself is very dramatic with many fascinating twists and turns, with central characters who are more compelling than even their legends would have them, but it inspires solutions for the negative atmosphere we find ourselves in today.

About the Panelists:

The Rev. Andrew D. Lobban

Andy has served at St. Bartholomew’s since June of 2016.

Andy came to St. Bart’s via Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, where he had served for four years as the associate clergy overseeing much of the outreach and social justice programming.

A native of northern California, Andy received his undergraduate degrees in math and physics from MIT, after which he returned to California to receive a Master’s in education from UC Berkeley.  He taught math and physics in secondary and post-secondary schools in Illinois and Texas for several years and then felt the call to ordained ministry.

Having completed a Master of Divinity at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, TX, he was ordained to the priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas, where he served for one year prior to returning to California.  Andy’s family includes his wife Olga and two school-age daughters, Lilly and Abby.

Dr. Ali Ataie

Dr. Ali Ataie is one of the foremost leading scholars in comparative religions today. He is currently a teacher and researcher of the Islamic Sciences and specializes in theology and biblical interpretation. Additionally he is also the President and Founder of Muslim Interfaith Council and he has been heavily involved in interfaith activities for the past 15 years.

He earned his undergraduate degree in Accounting from Cal Poly State University in 2000, during which time he served as the President of the Muslim Students’ Association. He has been both a guest lecturer and guest instructor at several colleges and universities such as Cal Poly State , UC Davis , UC Berkeley, and Cal State East Bay.

He studied various Islamic sciences under local Bay Area scholars and has dialogued and debated with several Christian scholars on a variety of topics ranging from the historicity of the resurrection of Christ (upon whom be peace) and the Prophethood of Muhammad (upon whom be peace and blessings).

He is a graduate of the Badr Arabic Language Institute in Hadramawt, Yemen and studied at the prestigious Dar al-Mustafa under some of the most eminent scholars in the world. He holds a Masters’ Degree in Biblical Studies from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, (the first Muslim seminarian in the 143 year history of the school to do so), and is working on a PhD in Islamic Biblical Hermeneutics.

More about the film: