Syria has been torn by an internal conflict for years, with the war also claiming the life of the mufti’s son. But he is still confident that religious differences, which partially contributed to the conflict, can be overcome in the future.
Syrian Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun wondered how people who have a single god, prophet and religious book could end up separated into dozens of branches that are rarely on good terms with each other. He offered his own explanation to the problem in an interview.
“When politics interferes in religion, religion becomes a party. The problem with religion is that the clerics opened up their shops and emporia, and started trading,” he said.
He elaborated further by saying that cooperation between clerics and politicians led to the creation of “1000 religious branches,” although according to him, there can’t be such things as “Qatari Islam, Syrian Islam.” He is confident that there can be only one Islam and only one Christianity.
When speaking about the wealth of modern clerical institutions, he noticed that he would prefer to sell all the “crystal chandeliers, expensive icons and gold” he sees in churches and mosques and would rather spend the money to help young families, single mothers and the homeless. “I swear, this is better than taking care of the church or a mosque,” he added.
Countering Radical Islam
When commenting on the measures that are currently undertaken in terms of countering radical Islam, Hassoun said they are all “empty words” which do not affect anything. He is confident that the reason behind this is a lack of common ground between the clerics, as well as their reluctance to reduce divisions and adherence to certain political positions.
“We can always find behind Salafists, Sunnis, Shiites states that support and supply them. When clerics mature, when they have their own philosophy, message, not just their posts, then we can come up with a solution to the problem [of radical Islam],” he said.
Mufti Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun lost his son in the conflict that broke out in 2011, engulfing Syria. A group of armed militants shot him, along with an Aleppo University professor, on October 10, 2011.