A Trajectory Toward the Periphery: Francis of Assisi, Louis Massignon, Pope Francis, and Muslim–Christian Relations

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If one day Muslim Americans will be forced to register their identities, then that is the day this proud Jew will register as a Muslim. (Khomami and Sidahmed 2016Khomami, Nadia, and Mazin Sidahmed. 2016. “Jonathan Greenblatt: ‘This Proud Jew Would Register as a Muslim’ in database.” BBC News, November 18. Accessed 28 August, 2017.
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—Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)

When we were at last together he railed against injustice, particularly injustice against the lowly. He told me he had made a vow—at age seventy-six—that if a certain Algerian who is wanted by both the French police and the Algerian terrorists comes to the Muslim–Christian pilgrimage in Brittany later this month and is arrested, he will enter prison with him. (Emphasis added).1
1 Massingnon's is referring to the legend of the “Seven Sleepers of Ephesus” found in the Qur’an and ancient Christian sources. It is commemorated by an old French church in Brittany. Massignon started a Muslim–Christian pilgrimage there for reconciliation shortly after the FLN started the armed struggle in Algeria (section 4). Herbert Mason, formerly University Professor of History and Religion, Boston University, was a life-long friend of Massignon's, and translated into English Massignon's La Passion d’al-Hallaj / The Passion of al-Hallaj (Massignon 1982Massignon, Louis. 1982. La Passion d’ al-Hallaj / The Passion of al-Hallaj, Trans. by Herbert Mason, 4 vols. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
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—Herbert Mason on Louis Massignon (1988Mason, Herbert. 1988. Memoir of a Friend: Louis Massignon. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.
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, 102)

Many times in our private conversations, Massingnon told me how great was his debt to St. Francis of Assisi, whom he considered not only one of the most ‘compassionate’ men in the history of civilization, but also the first Western Christian to preach, by example, as well as by words, the principle of non-violence, as opposed to the war-like ideology of the Crusades … . to preach the principle that only with love should we confront those who appear to be our enemies.

—Giulio Bassetti-Sani (1974Bassetti-Sani, Giulio, OFM. 1974. Louis Massignon: Christian Ecumenist. Chicago, IL: Franciscan Herald Press.
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-36
Number of pages21
JournalReview of Faith and International Affairs
Issue number1
Early online date6 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • Sociology and Political Science


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