What is the Connection Between Franciscans and Muslims

by Sister Julie Ann on June 21, 2010

Jesus in Quran

Franciscan Sisters are interested in knowing more about Islam in special summer sessions.

On four Mondays in June, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity will gather in a Motherhouse classroom for an enrichment experience of Islam. There will be no textbook, exams or homework (but there are suggested vocabulary words.)

An engaging, well-prepared teacher, Sister Mary Bodwin, OSF, quickly points to St. Francis of Assisi’s encounter with the Muslim Sultan as-Malek as-Kamil in 1219 as an early Franciscan example of the  importance of seeking to understand Islam. Indeed, St. Francis was alert to the theological and political beliefs of his time. He desired to be present among the Muslim people, and to meet them personally. Later after spending time with them, Francis walked away from the experience admiring their public, repeated call to prayer and the reverence shown to their holy book the quran.

Thomas Celano writes in the First Book of the Life of St. Francis:

Taking a companion with him, he [Francis] was not afraid to present himself to the sight of the Sultan of the Saracens… Before he reached the Sultan, he was captured by soldiers, insulted and beaten, but was not a afraid. He did not flinch at threats of torture nor was he shaken by death threats. Although he was ill-treated by many with a hostile spirit and a harsh attitude, he was received very graciously by the Sultan. The Sultan honored him as much as he could, offering him many gifts, trying to turn his mind to worldly riches. But when he saw that he resolutely scorned all these things like dung, the Sultan was overflowing with admiration and recognized him as a man unlike any other. He was moved by his words and listened to him very willingly.

What moved the Sisters to be present at this summer series at this time in history?


24 thoughts on “What is the Connection Between Franciscans and Muslims”

  1. I knew nothing about the subject and am interested.

  2. src says:

    I knew nothing about the subject and am interested.

  3. sannetteb says:

    I read the books of 'The Haj' by Leon Uris and 'Blood Brothers' so when this class was offered, I was very interested in it and glad I could take it.

  4. S Delores Wisnicky says:

    I teach World Religions to my 7th & 8th graders and wanted to know more about Islam. It is helping me understand world affairs.

  5. sa says:

    I wanted to learn about Islam. What it is, how will it/might it affect us politically, perhaps, in the near future.

    Also, no class work, study just listen as Sister Mary is very interesting and knows her material.

  6. I was thrilled to be able to sit in on this experience of Islam. The extraordinary meeting between Francis and the Sultan happened because both men had a close relationship with God. It was evident Sister Mary's own gifts of grace and love for teaching made tonight's subject matter not only interesting, but also understandable.

  7. saj says:

    Interested in hearing if Sister Mary had the opinion I get of Muslims from papers.

  8. sg says:

    I heard so much about Sister Mary's class on Islam that I couldn't wait to take it! It's excellent!

  9. Srosangela says:

    I know Sister Mary is a good teacher. I took World Religions Class so I learned something about Islam and wanted to learn more.

  10. sjh says:

    A great opportunity

  11. sm says:

    I'd like to know more about a life so different from my own.

  12. smb says:

    I wanted to learn more about Islam. Curious.

  13. sj says:

    I teach world religions & need to get background-I always heard Sr. Mary Bodwin was a great teacher & never had the opportunity to take a class from her.

  14. sj says:

    I like to learn about different religions, different cultures, different ways of thinking, different viewpoints.

  15. smj says:

    My desire is to learn about Muslims so as to gain perspective in regard to the media presentation of this culture/religion.

  16. sc says:

    Interested in knowing more about Islam since it is so much a part of our culture now.

  17. Mbodwin says:

    I am glad youwere able to attend the class. Please feel welcome to come next Monday.
    You and Sister Mary Ann gave such an informative session this P.M. Keep up the good work.
    Sister Mary

  18. I did have choral reading practice next Monday, but a group of us did so well on our 'few' lines that our practice was cancelled. I'd be happy to accept your invitation and fill the last possible chair in the room once again.

  19. srsharon says:

    I'm sure you are learning much on Islam and what a graced opportunity. Isn't it a blessing to see how the various Religions differ and what we share in common. May we, as a community, continue to appreciate other Religions and share with others on this earthly journey. Enjoy! Sr. Sharon Paul

  20. Mbodwin says:

    We will be happy to have you.
    Sister Mary

  21. Mbodwin says:

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  22. AmariW says:

    I took this class during the year. I highly recommend it so that you will be more open to peole of other religions.

  23. Sister Mary Jane says:

    I took this class during the year. I highly recommend it so that you will be more open to people of other religions.

  24. I'm grateful I could hear part two of the story. Sister Daniella's Tanzanian experience of living side by side with Muslims in her home village showed the goodness of all people of faith. Thanks, too, for the very helpful vocabulary handout.

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