During the Islamic State’s occupation of Mosul, a Muslim family hid two ancient Syriac Orthodox books to prevent their destruction from the extremist group, putting their lives at great risk. Upon the city’s liberation, the family gave the sacred manuscripts to Father Paulos Thabit Mekko, a representative of the Chaldean community, but asked that their identity be protected because “sleeper cells” still exist in the city.
Father Paulos Thabit Mekko says he believes the manuscripts were originally stolen from the Syriac Orthodox Church of the Immaculate, one of a number of churches and monasteries that was sadly destroyed by ISIS. The manuscripts were initially discovered by the Muslim man in 2015 near the Chaldean monastery of St. Michael. “One day the man saw a lorry dump some rubbish,” explains Father Mekko. “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.”
Father Mekko says the unidentified Muslim man does have a message. “He wanted to give me a message,’not all Muslims are with ISIS. Many consider Christians like brothers and are ready to put their lives at risk to save a Christian text.'” And Father Mekko adds, “What great courage!”