Dr Hassoun is one of my favourite people in the world, and someone I pray for every day. He made a deep impression on me the first time I met him. I see him as an archetypal spiritual leader.
They say that ‘a fish rots from the head’, meaning that if the leader of an organisation or country is rotten, then the rot will affect everyone beneath them. The opposite can also be true – that a leader of genuine spiritual integrity can strengthen everyone beneath them – and Dr Hassoun is one key reason why Syria has displayed such incredible unity and strength over the recent years of strife and violence.
Dr Hassoun possesses a unique combination of wisdom, authority and compassion. He is the only religious leader I know whose first words when he greets me are ‘I love you’.
This interview took place in Dr Hassoun’s home in Damascus on 21 May 2016.