Caucasus Muslim Board Chairman Allahshukyur Pasha-zade said the Sheikh-ul-Islam, the community's top honor, recognized Patriarch Alexy II's "efforts to foster peace, harmony and understanding between people, to establish tolerance as a norm of life and to remedy international conflicts."
Presenting the award at an international religious summit in Moscow, which focuses on terrorism, inter-ethnic conflicts and xenophobia, Pasha-zade said great bloodshed had been averted through the patriarch's efforts.
Alexy II said he saw the award as "an appreciation of activities by the entire Russian Orthodox Church, whose hierarchs, clergymen and congregations seek to interact with all people of good will and who consolidate relations between the Orthodox clergy and the Muslim clergy."
More than 100 religious leaders from across the world have gathered in Moscow for the three-day summit, which, according to organizers, is the largest event of its kind. The list of guests includes Cardinal Walter Kasper, responsible for relations with the Orthodox Church at the Vatican, as well as the chairman of the World Jewish Congress, Syria's top mufti, an Iranian ayatollah, and Muslim, Buddhist, Catholic and Orthodox Christian officials from China.