Syrian Grand Mufti says he is "Sunni and Shiite"


Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun Says no such thing as "holy war," just politics

DUBAI (Haian Nayouf,

During a visit to Germany, Syria's Grand Mufti made "controversial" statements – saying he follows all sects of Islam, and adding that there is no such thing as "holy war."

Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun – the highest Islamic jurist in Syria -- confirmed German media reports about his multiple affiliations to different denominations in Islam, saying: "I am Sunni in practice, Shiite in allegiance. My roots are Salafi, and my purity is Sufi."

This, he said, is the type of international Muslim he is trying to mold: "There is no contradiction in being both Sunni and Shiite. That's how one's Islam becomes complete."

Hassoun's speech to the German Parliament, in which he tackled Islamic conquests, also drew criticism after the German press quoted him as saying there is no such thing as 'holy war' in holy books.

"The Crusades as well the Islamic conquests were to serve political interests and had nothing to do with religion, press reports had said.

But Hassoun later told that he meant many, but not all, Islamic wars were waged for political or other non-religious purposes, the conquest of Andalusia, being the most obvious example.

About the issue of praying in mosques and churches, Sheikh Hassoun had another controversial point of view: "Praying in a church or a synagogue is like praying in a mosque. They're all houses of God."

Hassoun confirmed reports that he met Former Supreme Guide of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, Essam al-Attar, in Aachen. Hassoun expressed his deep respect for Attar whose sermons he used to listen to in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus when he was a child.

"I appreciate how he defended our region, especially his position on the Palestinian cause," Hassoun said.

While in Germany, Hassoun called for immediate intervention to end the Palestinian and Iraqi occupations, pointing out that Germany can play an active role in establishing just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid).


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