A Muslim family has risked their lives to save two ancient Christian texts from destruction by the Islamic State in Iraq.
The official press agency of the Roman Catholic Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions shared the story of how two ancient Syriac Orthodox manuscripts evaded destruction for three years while ISIS controlled the city of Mosul, Iraq, The Christian Post says.
Reportedly, ISIS has destroyed numerous cultural and religious relics in the area and has burned hundreds of Christian texts.
However, One family who wished to remain anonymous for their safety, was determined to keep the texts safe despite threat of being killed if caught.
In an interview with AsiaNews.It Father Paulos Thabit Mekko recalled the story noting that he is now temporarily in possession of the manuscripts until they can be returned to their rightful owners. The priest told Asia News that he believes that the manuscripts were stolen from the Syriac Orthodox Church of the Immaculate, a church that was demolished by ISIS.
Mekko explained, “Recently a Chaldean from Mosul contacted me saying that he had a Muslim neighbor from the time he lived in the city 20 years ago.”
He continued, “One day the man saw a lorry dump some rubbish,” Mekko explained. “He was in the area looking for some wood to cook and heat his home. Among the refuse, he found a couple of manuscripts in ancient Syriac script and thought they might be of some value.”
The man then reportedly decided to take the manuscripts home understanding it could cost him his life.
The Muslim man then went to visit his former Christian neighbor in Kurdistan and brought the documents with him. The man handed them over to his friend and according to Asia News, asked his former neighbor if he knew a pastor or a religious scholar who could be trusted to keep the manuscripts, discover their rightful home and not sell them.
“The latter entrusted me with the two tomes. They contain the offices of the morning and evening prayers in Syriac Antiochene Orthodox rite,” Mekko was quoted as saying.
Mekko also came bearing a message from the manuscripts’ keeper. Mekko said, “[T]he Muslim man wanted to give me a message: ‘not all Muslims are with IS.’”
He continued, “Many consider Christians like brothers and are ready to put their lives at risk to save a Christian text. What great courage!”