Sheikh Mazen was an impressive figure, as he sat there with us on the soft carpet of the mosque in the Muslim quarter. His great purity of gaze and peacefulness of heart were striking. He was entirely focused – which seemed due to total commitment to his faith and his God.
He is an important future in the Muslim community of Jerusalem. He is one of the Board which supervises the many mosques of the Old City; he is a leading figure in interfaith relations; most recently he had been invited to meet Pope Francis during the papal visit to Israel.
Sheik Mazen, with his intense clarity of mind, answered our questions – Riad was our interpreter – and commended our work. He spoke of peace even as peace seemed to flow from him and around him. He is a person in whose presence you would want to dwell.
Hisham was our guide, a courteous and intelligent man. He told us that the Old City has about 24,000 inhabitants, of whom 20,000 are Muslim, 3,000 are Jewish, and 1,000 are Armenian. He did not say how many Catholics were there, but they did not seem to be numerous.