The Saint and the Sultan: Discussion Questions

1. Francis of Assisi was deeply affected by the trauma he suffered as a soldier and prisoner of war. How did these experiences shape his life? Can you think of people you know who became closer to God after a devastating experience?

2. It was important to Francis to obey church authorities, and yet he exposed their attachment to power and wealth by living a virtuous, simple, peaceful life. What can his example mean for us today?

3. What kind of leader was Sultan Malik al-Kamil? Did his religious faith shape the way he ruled? If so, in what ways? Does he offer any example for government leaders today?

4. In his Earlier Rule, Francis proposed two ways for his brothers to interact with Muslims: to live quietly and peaceably among them, giving witness without preaching; and to preach the Christian faith openly. Which method do you think Francis preferred? Does his example apply to us today?

5. Francis of Assisi and Sultan Malik al-Kamil lived in a time of constant warfare and violence. What can we learn today from the warfare they witnessed and their response to it?

6. Sultan al-Kamil displayed a great interest in Christianity, and Francis was very much affected by some of the Muslim religious practices he witnessed. At the same time, each was true to his own faith. What can we learn today from what is good and true in other religious traditions?

7. How can the story of the encounter between Francis of Assisi and Sultan Malik al-Kamil help today to improve relations between Christians and Muslims? Francis acted as an individual. How can individuals try to make a difference today in inter-religious relations?