One blasphemy after another: Jesus is merely a prophet. The prophet Jesus and the prophet Mohammed are brothers. The Holy Spirit is the Archangel Gabriel. Christians should pray in mosques. Muslims should pray Islamic prayers inside Orthodox churches. The prayers from churches and mosques rise up to heaven as one . . .
Patriarch John X — the bishop leading the Antiochian Orthodox Church — invited the Islamic Grand Mufti of Syria into an Orthodox church, in front of the iconostasis, and invited him to address the congregation. While this Muslim publicly denied the deity of Christ and the deity of the Holy Spirit, Patriarch John said nothing. While he advocated Islamic prayer inside Orthodox churches, the patriarch said not a word. When he said that Muslims and Christians worship the same God, and that God accepts prayers from both Christians and Muslims, the patriarch remained silent.
After witnessing eighteen minutes of nonstop blasphemy, Patriarch John X exchanged a kiss of peace with this Muslim cleric, while the congregation applauded. The original video is available on the Antioch Patriarchate FB page. The following video has English subtitles. A complete transcript is available below.
A word from his Eminence, the Mufti of the Arabic Republic of Syria, Dr. Ahmad Bader Addine, in the occasion of New Year's Eve at the Cathedral of St. Mary, 1/1/2017
May the peace, mercy, and blessings of God be upon you, in the name of our one God who created us all, whose mercy has filled us, and who has had compassion for us through his bountiful presence. His elation, my dear friend and my dear brother, who carries with us the message of heaven, the message of peace and love and mercy.
Also, My dear brothers in Aleppo, the most hospitable, absent in body but present in spirit, Archbishop Paul and Archbishop John — I ask God for their rest.
My very hospitable brothers and sisters, in this very moment that I stand here, at the end of the straight path with which we taught the entire world that a person comes to Damascus carrying hatred, grudges, and murder in his heart, and Damascus changes his heart, and he leaves it carrying love, peace, and faith.
Didn't Paul (the apostle) enter Damascus one day to put out the flames of faith in people's hearts and to destroy the light of Christ in people's hearts? So, Damascus was able to convert him from an enemy to a friend, from a hater to a lover, and from hated to loved.
This is Syria that I stand in today, in its Cathedral of St. Mary, to speak to the entire world and tell them...
You've heard a few weeks ago that the mosques in Jerusalem have been silenced, and their Azaan (Islamic prayers) have been banned. Come learn from Damascus, for you see the prayers of the churches and the Dou'aa (prayers) of the mosques embracing each other while going up to heaven as one indeed.
Did you know, dear ones, why our ancestors decided on a historical date that is a number with a meaningful message?
Why did they have us calculate the date from the birth of Christ (peace be upon him) — 2017? Why did they have us count from the Hijra (migration) of our prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) — 1438? Why did they pick Christmas and Hijra?
And all of us here in the East in our schools, set our dates with these numbers, but we never taught our children the secrets behind them. Each day I hold a pencil to write a date: 2017. What does this date mean?
Why did the world choose the birth of Christ to date their years? The entire world today uses this date for a Merry Christmas. Is it just a number? Or a memory? or a party in a nightclub? or prayers and invocations in churches? or is it even greater and greater and greater than all that?
Indeed, our ancestors only chose a date for Christmas so we can learn something. And that is: During Christmas day, a light shone so bright, that darkness went to hide. The annunciation has become a light leading humans to a life of peace.
When our God says — in both the Bible and the Qur'an — about Christ (peace be upon him), that he is the peace himself, and the bringer of peace to others:
"And peace was upon me the day I was born and the day I die and the day I resurrect." (Qur'an - Maryam 19:33)
This is what we need to teach our children. This number is not just for counting. However, it is peace the day he was born, and peace the day he dies, and peace the day he returns to Damascus another time to spread peace in the world. This is the number we taught our children.
But have we taught them peace as they were writing down the numbers for these dates? Had the West learned peace, they would not have sent us weapons of murder and destruction.
His Eminence saw with his own eyes, he saw the dwelling place of our master Zechariah in the Omayad Mosque. And he saw what they have done to that Mosque, where there wasn't a day that passed before or after Islam that the name of God has not be mentioned (glory be to Him).
And you know, your Eminence, that the Omayad Mosques in Damascus and Aleppo were both churches. So when Muslims came here, the Christians did not sell it to them at all, but they asked the Caliph to build four churches, so they all could pray to the one and only God.
These are our mosques AND our churches. They never were for a certain religion or sect, but they were the house of God for all human beings.
Thus, when Muslims write the date nowadays of 1438, it is also not just a number. They need to know that this number has a meaning, that our prophet Mohammad (may peace be upon him), and upon Christ and Moses and Abraham, in the day of Islamic Hijra he wrote a date that freed humans from worshiping idols, to worship the One who judges us all.
That specific day, he was aiming to build a nation to unify everyone through one God, so that the idols would be destroyed. So let us repeat to our children that these numbers are a message from the prophet of peace and the prophet of mercy.
So if anyone who ever carried a weapon in Syria to kill our children, and to destroy our mosques and our churches, if they had even learned that they are way too far away from the prophet of peace — Jesus — and far from the prophet of mercy — Mohammad — and that he is an enemy to them both and to all of humanity, had we taught them from infancy that if one were to destroy all the mosques in the universe and all the churches in the world, it would have been better for God that you would've murdered a person, because it was mentioned, your Eminence, in the book of Zabour, in one of David's psalms, that man is built by God, and cursed is the one who comes after the buildings of God.
Cursed is the one who comes after the buildings of God! Look at the difference! They are putting people to death, but Christ goes to the dead, puts his hand upon them and brings them back to life. Look at the difference!
Mohammad sees someone who has murdered another, and asks him, "What have you done?" He exclaimed, "There is no God but God!" He exclaimed this out of fear. He asked, "Have you wounded his heart?" Why do you make Gods of yourselves, killing humans in the name of God? Whereas God has created the universe with his love.
Thus, today as we begin our new year, and from the heart of our soul, Maryam [Mary], who was the immaculate mother, the pure, the brilliant, who carried the Christ (may peace be upon him) with a breath from the holy spirit so he can be the word and soul of God... Shouldn't we all learn to be the word of God on earth, to unleash love, peace, and purity upon it?
This is Syria, sending the entire world a message today. We welcomed a Nazarene (Christian) convoy into the mosque of our prophet 1400 years ago. So they sat on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday inside the mosque with the hospitality of the prophet.
So when it was Sunday, they put their robes on and went out of the mosque. So the prophet said "Why have you left?" They replied, "It is Sunday, and we need to pray." So he said,
"Why don't you pray inside the mosque? For the God we pray to is one. Go back inside the mosque and pray."
This is what we also did when France colonized this country. When they came out with a decision to close all mosques on Fridays, then the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church that day came out with his own decision:
"Open all the churches so our Muslim brothers can do their Friday prayers inside them!"
If our children have no memory of this, then read it to them from history. The churches of Aleppo and Antioch opened up. Antioch was once there, and it will go back one day by that name, God willing, in the land of the Levant, because Antioch is one of the blessed lands of God. And the chair of Antioch shall stay together with the chair of Constantinople, and the chair of Alexandria, and the chair of Damascus, and the chair of Athens — all one chair, always preaching the verse of peace and love to humanity.
This is Syria that you are witnessing today. We are together, and our prophets in the past were also together, in the same message. We never segregate between any of God's prophets.
This is Syria, whose media that was in churches, and mosques, and hospitals, and schools, and factories, and its leader (may God bless him) President Bashar Al-Assad — who was in a monastery orphanage last week feeding the orphans with his own hands, entertaining them with conversations, smiling at them through dialogue — this is Syria, which they demonized in their media. But God wanted it to be a light, through His grace and glory.
This is Syria, telling Palestine that all of our martyrs who have been martyred in the past six years on the land of our own country — We have prepared them for you, O Palestine, but they have punished us, because we have not surrendered to them, because we refused to sell Jerusalem, and Bethlehem, and Nazareth, and the Church of the Resurrection.
We refused to sell it, and we will refuse to ever give it up to those who have once killed the prophets and have made their way a way of animosity toward God, and defeat of human beings. As for us, our way is a way of love of God and dignity of human beings. This is Syria.
If our brethren here from Australia are shocked that we are here in a church, know that thousands of years ago Omar Bin-Al-Khattab entered the church of Bethlehem and he stood there looking at it.
Over 40 years ago, before the Zionists invaded Bethlehem, I went there myself. I went inside the Mahdi and went in the cave, and I saw the palm and prayed where our own prophet once prayed. And the Archangel Gabriel, the holy spirit, said unto him, "Go and pray."
And he said, "Do you know where I prayed?"
He replied, "No."
He said, "This is where your brother Issa (Jesus) was born."
"Your brother Issa (Jesus)." See, we do not segregate between the prophets of God.
This is why we came, your Eminence, to start a new year with you, and to tell the world that even if our history is based on the Hijra, it is a gift of mercy, and if our history is based on Christmas, it is peace, safety, and a message of love and brotherhood. This is what our history here is about.
But what is your history about? First and second world wars? Well, our history is peace, love, and generosity. This is Syria today, in its brand new year, starting with a ceasefire.
And as his Eminence prayed a few moments ago, God guides our children to go back to safety, and to invest this peace into telling those who invaded Syria to go back to their lands, because Syria's soil is pure and its water is healing, and its sky is a shining light, and its people are made of love and brotherhood.
So if you want to change Syria, you will not be able to, because God has chosen it for all the prophets, and for all those who are good.
Dear President (Bashar Al-Assad), in this moment while you lead the way of peace, as you lead the way of resilience, we pray from within our mosques and our churches that God takes your hand to create amazing peace in this nation, and to cease the fire of war, and make peace the way for our new generation.
But as for our martyrs — some of you told me that you have martyrs from your very own [families] — I bring you good news. A martyr does not stay in the ground. Martyrs go to heaven. They look down upon us and ask God for our happiness and purity.
Our martyr is in the land of the prophets, being greeted by the angels of heaven, as they have greeted the martyred prophets of the past.
Greetings to all of you dear ones in the home of the Virgin Mary, the amazing, pure woman whose book I always read in the Qur'an. And my heart leaps up, for she carries the most beautiful annunciation for the entire universe. May the peace of God be upon you.
Thank you all. And in the name of the Ministry of Awqaf and all its scholars, we would all like to tell you that we are all on the same road of faith.
God bless you all, and prayers for our most beloved brothers to come back — Archbishop Paul and Archbishop John — and be with us next month, alive, God willing, so we can celebrate them and see them in the churches and mosques all together.
Thank you, and may this day and every day be blessed in the Levant, and may the peace of God and his mercy and blessings be upon you.
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