ΑΝ ΠΕΘΑΝΕΙΣ ΠΡΙΝ ΠΕΘΑΝΕΙΣ, ΔΕ ΘΑ ΠΕΘΑΝΕΙΣ ΟΤΑΝ ΠΕΘΑΝΕΙΣ

(ΠΑΡΟΙΜΙΑ ΟΡΘΟΔΟΞΩΝ ΜΟΝΑΧΩΝ)

Τρίτη, 9 Δεκεμβρίου 2014

From Islam to Christianity: Saints in the Way to the Lihgt


Ελληνικά για το θέμα: Μουσουλμάνοι που αγίασαν ως χριστιανοί
 
Herebelow we have presented certain Christian saints, who converted from Islam to Christianity, and in fact to its ancient and authentic form : Orthodoxy.

The 100,000 Holy Martyrs of Tbilisi

When abandoning Islam, these saints were well aware that they would not gain any glory, authority or wealth and pleasures, but would face torture and death, in accordance with Islamic law. And yet, all of them had willingly sacrificed their earthly lives, because they had come to realize that the true Light and the true Life - the eternal Life - is Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.
When Christianity speaks of God and the Son of God, it by no means implies that there are two separate Gods; only one God exists, who is Triunal (Three in One) - that is, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit - while the manner of unity that exists between those three divine Persons is an inscrutable mystery for man.
This Triunal God is revealed in the Holy Bible and in the lives of the  saints who are united with Him and who are extremely careful about the revelations that they receive about heavenly truths - far more careful than any muslim sage or teacher. 
This is why we frequently encounter cases of orthodox Christian saints who, even after their biologial death, are known to have appeared and to have performed miracles among people - even to Muslims.  It is as though they are miraculously invited to approach the true faith - the Orthodox Church of Jesus Christ.
  
Saint Tounom the Emir ( 18 April 1579)


Below is the account of Monk Parthenios written in 1846 which he received regarding the great miracle of the Holy Light and how the plans of the Armenians were thwarted when they tried to perform the miracle. He also speaks of the Muslim Emir Tounom who converted to Orthodoxy upon witnessing this event.

Let me tell you about this. At the Great Gates themselves, on the left side, stands a column made out of marble with a fissure from which the grace, that is, the Holy Fire, came forth. This column is honored by Orthodox as well as non-Orthodox, and even the Armenians. I would like to write a little about this incident, how the Orthodox Eastern Christians unanimously speak of it and the Turks themselves confirm it.

In the wall there is an inscribed marble slab, and they say that this very incident is written on it; but we could not read it because it is written in Syrian letters, in the Arab tongue; and I only heard about it, but did not read it. But the incident happened something like this:

At one time when the Greeks were completely oppressed by the Turkish yoke, some rich Armenians took it into their heads to force the Greeks out of the Holy Sepulchre and out of the Church of the Resurrection. They gathered a large sum of money and bribed the Ottoman Porte and all the Jerusalem authorities, assuring the unbelievers that the Holy Fire comes forth not simply for the sake of the Greeks, but for all Christians, and "if we Armenians are there, we also will receive it!" And the Turks, who are greedy for money, accepted the bribe and therefore did as the Armenians wished, and they affirmed that only the Armenians would be allowed to receive the Holy Fire. The Armenians rejoiced greatly and wrote to all their lands and to their faithful, that more of them should go on a pilgrimage. And a great multitude of them did come.

Holy Saturday approached: the Armenians all gathered in the church, and the Turkish army drove the poor Greeks out. Oh, what unspeakable grief and sorrow filled the Greeks! There was only one comfort for them -- the Grave of the Saviour, and they were being kept away from it, and the Holy Gates were locked to them! The Armenians were inside the church and the Orthodox were on the streets. The Armenians were rejoicing and the Greeks were weeping. The Armenians were celebrating and the Greeks were bitterly lamenting! The Orthodox stood opposite the Holy Gates on the court and around them stood the Turkish army, watching so that there would not be a fight. The Patriarch himself with all the rest stood there with candles, hoping that they would at least receive the Fire from the Armenians through the window. But the Lord wished to dispose things in a different way, and to manifest His true Faith with a fiery finger and comfort His true servants, the humble Greeks.

The time had already come when the Holy Fire issues forth, but nothing happened. The Armenians were frightened and began to weep, and ask God that He send them the Fire; but the Lord did not hear them. Already a half hour had passed and more, and still no Holy Fire. The day was clear and beautiful; the Patriarch sat to the right side. All of a sudden there was a clap of thunder, and on the left side the middle marble column cracked and out of the fissure a flame of fire came forth. The Patriarch arose and lit his candles and all the Orthodox Christians lit theirs from his. Then all rejoiced, and the Orthodox Arabs from Jordan began to skip and cry out, "Thou art our one God, Jesus Christ; one is our True Faith, that of the Orthodox Christians!" And they began to run about all of Jerusalem and raise a din, and to shout all over the city. And to this day they still do this in memory of the incident and they jump and shout, running around the Holy Sepulchre, and they praise the one true God, Jesus Christ, and bless the Orthodox Faith.

Beholding this wonder, the Turkish army, which was standing around on guard, was greatly amazed and terrified. From amongst them one named Emir, who was standing at the St. Abraham's Monastery on guard, immediately believed in Christ and shouted, "One is the true God, Jesus Christ; one is the true faith, that of the Orthodox Christians!" And he jumped down to the Christians from a height of more than 35 feet. His feet landed on the solid marble as if though on soft wax. And to this day one can see his footprints imprinted as though in wax, although the non-Orthodox tried to erase them. I saw them with my own eyes and felt them with my own hands. And the column with the fissure still bears the scorch marks. As for Emir the soldier, having jumped down, he took his weapon and thrust it into the stone as though into soft wax, and began to glorify Christ unceasingly. For this, the Turks beheaded him and burned his body; the Greeks gathered up his bones, put them into a case and took them to the Convent of the Great Panagia, where they gush forth fragrance until this day.

The Armenians in the Holy Sepulchre received nothing and were left only with their shame. The Pasha of Jerusalem and other Turkish authorities were greatly displeased with them and wanted to slaughter them all, but they feared the Sultan. They only punished them heavily: they say that they made each one to eat dung as he left the church. 

More here.


Saint John the New Martyr of Vrachori, formerly a Muslim ( 1814) 

St. John the New Martyr of Konitsa (Feast Day - September 23)

MYSTAGOGY

John was born in 1785 in a place called Konitsa, which was populated by Albanian Muslims at the time. He was a Muslim of Muslim parents. His father was both a dervish and a sheik. When John was twenty years old, he also joined the order of dervishes, as there were a few tekes (Muslim dervish monasteries) in Konitsa. He moved to the city of Ioannina, Epeiros, but later he moved to the town of Vrachori in the province of Aitolia, whose pasha was Haznatar Isufaravos, a friend of his father. So the pasha made John his private dervish, where he arose high in rank and fought in the battle of the Turks against the Russians in the area of the Ionian Islands.

During the battle John came into contact with many Orthodox Christians and decided to become an Orthodox Christian himself. He removed his dervish attire and sought baptism, yet no one would baptize him out of fear. The pasha eventually was transferred, but John did not go with him.

Because he was unable to be baptized in Vrachori, John went to the island of Ithaka where he was able to be baptized and at that time was given the name John. Returning to the mainland he married an Orthodox woman and became a rural guard, avoiding Muslims as much as possible.

His father eventually heard of his son's apostasy and sent two dervishes to persuade John to return to his Muslim faith. The messengers failed due to the steadfast faith of John. However news spread in the village that John was a former Muslim and dervish, causing the local Muslims to bring charges against him.

Soldiers were eventually sent by the muselimi of Vrachori to arrest John. When he was asked to identify himself, John replied: "I am an Orthodox Christian and my name is John."

The muselimi replied: "Aren't you the young dervish, the son of the skeik of Konitsa?"

"Yes I am," answered John, "but now I am an Orthodox Christian and I will die as an Orthodox Christian."

"You were deceived by your wife," countered the muselimi, "and changed your faith. But come to your senses now and make a confession of your old faith and then you will see how much you will be honored by me."


John dismissed what the muselimi said to him and said: "Don't think, muselimi, that I will be so foolish and dumb as to leave the holy faith of the Orthodox Christians and be blinded again to come to the faith of Islam."

For this confession John was sentenced to be beheaded. Before his decapitation John requested that his hands be untied. His request was honored, so he made the sign of the Cross and said: "Lord, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom." He then bent his head and it was cut off. This occurred near a tree of the Church of Saint Demetrios in Agrinio which still stands today.

The muselimi did not acknowledge John to be either a Muslim or a Christian, thus not allowing him to be buried in either faith's cemetery. His head and body were thus thrown into a stream near the Church of Saint Demetrios. Influential Christians bribed the aga who gave them permission to gather the body of the martyr to give him a proper burial. However the aga ordered them to give no formal service or ceremony for John, and the Christians promised to not do so and merely buried him.

Thus John the former Muslim sacrificed his life for the love of Jesus Christ in Vrachori, Vellas, Epiros on September 23, in the year 1814. Many years later a child would hear voices coming from the tree trunk where the martyrdom took place, and this occurred daily until Priests came and did a Sanctification Service.

The holy skull and relics of Saint John were brought to the Holy Monastery of Prousou in Evrytania, and they are still kept there today. His relics were confirmed to be his in 1974. There is a small chapel dedicated to Saint John near the tree of his martyrdom where his feast is celebrated annually with a transfer of his relics for a few days. This chapel was established on 26 October 1983.



Two Turkish Saints (from here)

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