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Christians Of Iraq

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Who Are Christians of Iraq?

Most people think of the Middle East as mostly Arab and Moslem but it is not the case. Before the seventh century invasion of the Middle East by Moslem Arabs the predominant population of Mesopotamia (today's Iraq), Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt was none Arab Christians. The growth of Islam in these countries was not due to a sudden influx of Arabs but gradual conversion to Islam by the native population who later were termed Arabs. It was not until the eleventh century when Moslems became a majority in Iraq.

Assyrians from the fall of Nineveh to Present

Christians of Iraq trace their ancestry to the ancient Assyrians and Baby- lonians.They are known by various names such as Assyrians, Chaldeans for those who belong to the Chaldean-Church and Syriacs for the members of the Syrian Orthodox church. There is no specific statistics about the total population ofChristians in Iraq but they are estimated to be about one million .

During the relatively tolerant period of the Abassid Caliphate (758-1258) Assyrians scholars of both Nestorian and Jacobite denominations contributed greatly to the advancement of the Islamic civilization by translating the available knowledge form the Syriac and the Greek languages into the Arabic. This usheredan era which is known as the "Golden Age". The first directors of the "House of Wisdom"an institution specifically established by AI-Mamun in 830 AD to translate all the availableexisting knowledge including, medicine philosophy, mathematics, astronomy and other sciences into the Arabic were Assyrians, also known as Nestorians and Jacobites.

To show the extent of the Assyrian contribution to educating the Arabs it suffices to say that from a hundred Galen's treaties ninety six were translated form the Syriac languagethe rest directly from the Greek. Many Greek books no longer existed in their nativelanguage. Yuhanna ibn Masswaya a physician and teacher was the first director of theHouse of Wisdom and the president of the first Arab University. He has been creditedwith having written nearly fifty works. His students were known to be well versed in logic and the writings of Galen. He conducted an assembly in Baghdad on regular basis known as "Majlis" which was a combination of lecture room and consulting hour where he saw patients, lectured his students and discussed scientific topics for the benefit of the general public. One of his most famous students was Hunayn ibn-Isahq who became the second director of the House of the Wisdom.(Arab Civilization to AD 1,500", D. M. Dunlop, New York 1971 p.220)

Hunayn is considered to be the greatest and the most productive translator of all."According to Ibn-abi-Usahbi'ah he was the author of more than one hundred original works, but few of these are extant". (Whiple 27) He translated twenty books of Galen into Syriac, and fourteen treaties into Arabic. He revised sixteen translations made previously by Sergius of Ras al-'Ayn (Rish-Ayna). The Arab translators such as Khwarizmi, al-Kindi and al-l-Hajjaj, the first translator of Euclid's Elements, received their training from Hunayn, and Thabit beit Qurra.

Translation from the Syriac language to Arabic was so widespread that even the Nestorian Patriarch Timothy who was a good friend of al-Mehdi and his sons Musa, Harun and Ali is known to have translated the 'Topics of Aristotle' first from the Syriac in (782-3), later retranslated it from the Greek original with the help of the malikite Patriarch.Christian Doctors were famous for their extensive medical skills.

The Medical training and teaching facilities of Jundi Shapour designed, built, and managed by the Assyrian scholars was transferred to Baghdad. The Jundi Shapour Bimarestan became model for hospitals built in Baghdad, Damascus, Allepo and Cairo. (Whipple 28) The teaching and training of the Physicians was done in the hospital as it is presently the case inthe British Medical Schools. Ahamd Eisa gives a list of twelve physicians from Jundi Shapour practicing in Baghdad. (Whipple p.28)

Members of the Bakht-Eisho family served as court doctors for seven generations. The Beit Qarra family of Harran who were still practicing a corrupted form of the ancient Assyro-Babylonian religion contributed greatly to the Arab Knowledge of astronomy and mathematics. The rise of the Arabic as a language of education contributed to the decline of scholarship in the Syriac language.

The arrival of the Crusaders followed by the Mongols inflamed Moslem passions against the none Moslem communities. Because of continued massacres the Assyrians population gradually declined in number but survived mostly in the plain of Nineveh, Southeast Turkey, Mountains north of Mosul, and and northwest Iran.

Turkey's world war one massacres resulted in the death of 750,000. During Saddam's wars with the Kurds hundreds of Assyrian villages were destroyed their inhabitants were rendered homeless, driven out of their historic homeland, and scattered as refugees in large cities or the neighboring countries. dozens of ancient churches some dating to the early centuries of Christianity were bombed and turned into rubble. The teaching of the Syriac language was prohibited and Assyrians were forced to give their children Arabic names in an effort to undermine their true identity. Those who wished to hold governmental jobs had to sign ethnicity correction papers which declared them arabs.

The fall of Saddam which was hoped to bring peace to Iraq has unleashed religious violence against the Christian community in Iraq. Unless special attention is given to their plight by the US and the Iraqi government this ancient people will continue to suffer grievously as they have in the past.









Nineveh Project: Send a Letter to Congress

Please visit the above link to send a pre written appeal to President Bush and the representatives of the state where you live ask them to help the persecuted Christians of Iraq. (US Residents only)

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Kanoon II - January

“Assyrian Woman” in the Days of Mourning Jan. 31, 2008

Sanharib Malki, Top Goal Scorer in Belgium Jan. 30, 2008

In Iraq, Christians Say They Are Dwindling Jan. 29, 2008

Baghdad’s Anglican church benefits from former Alabama parishioner’s generosity Jan. 29, 2008

The Mar Bawai Diocese joins the Chaldean Church
Jan. 29, 2008

Solidarity and donations are not enough, the Iraqi Church needs concrete projects Jan. 27, 2008

Iraq: Assistance needed for internally displaced and refugees Jan. 24, 2008

Time to Take the power back! Jan. 24, 2008

Blast in Iraq's Mosul kills 15, wounds 132 Jan. 24, 2008

When there’s persecution, what can you do? Jan. 23, 2008

10 Iraq Churches Bombed in 2 Weeks Jan. 23, 2008

Ancient Christians in Iraq have managed to survive
Jan. 23, 2008

Situation of Iraqi Assyrian1 Christians Discussed in Nürnberg Jan. 22, 2008

Iraqis adjust to life in N.H. Jan. 22, 2008

The Hatred against Christians has Escalated in Turkey
Jan. 22, 2008

You Tube Assyrian Videos Jan. 21, 2008

Paul Batou: My Art, My People. Jan. 18, 2008

Jan. 18, 2008

Jan. 18, 2008

Caritas initiative for Iraqi girls: classes to shelter them from exploitation Jan. 18, 2008

Ransacked Baghdad museum details renovation progress
Jan. 16, 2008

Armenians of Moscow to organize picket at Turkish Embassy January 19 Jan. 16, 2008

Iran Plans on Destroying Tomb of King Cyrus Jan. 16, 2008

Iraqi Political Factions Jointly Pressure Kurds Jan. 14, 2008

Imam of Kirkuk: attacks against Christians are “against Islam” Jan. 14, 2008

Assyrian Aid Society of Iraq distributes humanitarian aid
Jan. 12, 2008

Iraqi Priest Abducted and Tortured in Iraq Because he Was Christian Jan. 11, 2008

Religious cleansing’ in Iraq Jan. 9, 2008

Two More Churches Bombed in Iraq January 9th Jan. 9, 2008

Iraqi Assyrians cling to roots even far from home Jan. 4, 2008

Canoon I = December

Iraqi Army delivers Christmas Season Tidings to Assyrian Students Dec. 17, 07

international Genocide Scholars Association Officially recognizes Assyrian, Greek Genocide Dec. 15, 07

Armenia should be the first country to recognise the Assyrian Genocide! Dec. 14, 07

Arrested in Kirkuk a gang specialised in kidnapping Christian doctors Dec. 14, 07

Charities hope to help Iraqi Christians Dec. 14, 07

Assyrian Professor Dies From Stab Wound Dec. 13, 07

Iraqi Christian woman and brother found dead in city with rise in religious vigilante killings Dec. 11, 07

Iraqi Assyrians: Barometer of Pluralism Dec. 11, 07

Assyrians in Syria Ask for Historical and Political Recognition
Dec. 10, 07

Baghdad Christians Celebrate Sunday Mass Dec. 10, 07

Vigilantes kill 40 women in Iraq's south Dec. 8, 07

Assyrians: From Bedr Khan to Saddam Hussein Dec. 8, 07

Sabri Attman's lecture tour in US Dec. 8, 07

My Email to Scott Pelley of "60 Minutes" Regarding his Dec. 2, 2007 Report on Christians in Iraq Dec. 7, 07

Christians leaving Basra despite decades of co-existence
Dec. 7, 07

Prize Pianist: Van Cliburn winner was short on confidence but long on talent Dec. 7, 07

Middle East the cradle of Christianity Dec. 6, 07

For Iraqi refugees in Lebanon either prison or repatriation
Dec. 5, 07

(CBS) 60 Minute's Report : Vicar: Dire Times For Iraq's Christians
Dec. 3, 07




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