THE SPIRITUAL UTOPIA: DEIR MAR MUSA AL-HABASHI

_ Elizabeth Pasipanodya Sayı 177, Haziran 2008

Deir Mar Musa Al-Habashi (the Monastery of Moses the Abyssinian) revives the monastic tradition of Syria and has the dual role of being a centre for ecumenism between Christianity and Islam in Syria and a centre for the preservation of the environment with the establishment of a protected area around the monastery. The method of dialogue, of reaching out to the Other as the community of the monastery prefers to call it, is a special one that follows the Abrahamic tradition of hospitality and the Christian theology of badaliya inspired by Sufist traditions within Islam and the works and lives of Louis Massignon and Charles de Foucauld. The monastery of Mar Musa has stood at the eastern fringes of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains since at least the sixth century and is thought to have been built on the remnants of a Roman watchtower. Tale has it that an Ethiopian prince named Moses fled home after his father denied his calling to become a monk, so he wandered through Egypt, Israel and Syria following his destiny before being speared by Byzantine soldiers in the mountains near Nebek. The place of his martyrdom became the site of the monastery and in later years its positioning made it an apt stopover for pilgrims passing through the desert and for merchants on-route to Palmyra, and this lent it a prosperity that allowed the chapel of the monastery to be beautifully frescoed at least three times since 1058.

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