Shaykh Muhammad Nazim Adil, World Leader of the Naqshbandi Sufi Order, met with Pope Benedict XVI in Nicosia, Cyprus, on Saturday, June 5, 2010.
As a gesture of respect and humility, Shaykh Nazim travelled from Northern Cyprus to meet the pontiff in the UN buffer zone, and present him with gifts of a cane, a plaque with the word “peace” in Arabic and prayer beads. The Pope, in turn, presented Shaykh Nazim with a medal of his pontificate. In Islam, exchanging gifts is a tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (s) who said, “Exchange gifts, as that will lead to increasing your love to one another [Bukhari].
Although Shaykh Nazim seldom leaves his home in Northern Cyprus, where thousands of his global followers gather throughout the year, he felt compelled to make this arduous journey to reach out to the Pope, as an expression of hope for peace and tolerance in the world. While the pontiff expressed his desire to improve relations between the church and Islam and renewed calls for a greater dialogue between the faiths, Shaykh Nazim was the only Muslim he met on his first visit to Cyprus.In the brief visit between the two great leaders, they embraced and asked that they each keep the other in their prayers, to which both agreed.