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The Youngest Mullah (Part 1)

August 17, 2012

Dr. Sa’eed of Iran by Jay M. Rasooli and Cady H. Allen

Sa’eed was a Kurd born in the city of Sanandaj. His was a Kurd mullah in the nearby mosque. While still a young boy, Sa’eed developed a proud intolerance against the Jewish and Christian minorities living in his town. When on an errand to such a home, young Sa’eed was known for passing close to a shelf, and with his elbow sending a dish or two crashing down, and then offering profuse apology for the accident! He hoped that the damage would be to Allah’s glory, and would thus merit a later reward for himself.[1]

The Youngest Mullah

As early as his ninth year, Sa’eed was giving the call to prayer and reading with the mullahs at the mosque. He spent many hours a day reading Kurdish poetical works about Mohammed’s life. At 13 his father died; at 14 Sa’eed was elevated to the place of mullah, and unprecedented honor for one so young. Moreover, Sa’eed was initi­ated in the Naqshibandi order, the youngest member the order had ever taken. His mother and brothers and sisters felt proud of his ambition and accomplishments.

Dr. Saeed Of Iran

Jay M. Rasooli and Cady H. Allen convey a thrilling and revealing account of how a former Muslim Mullah responded to the message and ministry of Jesus Christ.

Exposure to the Bible and to the church did not influ­ence Sa’eed except to make him more content in his Islamic faith. Sa’eed describes his first reading of the Per­sian New Testament:

As I had never seen a Christian Bible before, from mere curiosity I read and read, but could make nothing out of it. It was such a strange book. Through one of my Chris­tian pupils I made an engagement to meet the Catholic priests, to whom I sent and asked for an explanation of certain passages in this strange book. But he could not solve my difficulties, nor explain the passages that puz­zled me. So I cast away the book with disgust. Through my pupils I also visited some other Christian homes and even went into their church and saw their worship. The image worship and adoration of pictures, both at home and in the church, the mode of their worship, the vest­ments, of their priests, the curtain and the holiest place, candles, incense burning and bowing to the Eucharist—in fact, the whole service gave me the impression that these poor men and women were nothing but idolatrous. I did not wonder why, in all the Kurdish poems I had read, Christianity and idolatry were synonymous. Disgusted and hateful more than ever, I left these Christian gowers (heathen). I came to the con­clusion that Islam was the only true religion of Allah; and how grateful I was to my ancestors who suffered and at the point of the sword were compelled to become Moham­medans, centuries ago, and I owed my orthodox faith to them.[2]

In 1879 an Assyrian pastor, Kasha Yohanna, and two col­porteurs trained in Urmiah came to Sa’eed’s city, Sanandaj. The pastor wanted to improve his Farsi, and Sa’eed was recom­mended as a teacher. Through Yohanna’s friendship, Sa’eed understood the Christian faith for the first time. Sa’eed gave up the practice of “cutting the Koran,” that is, opening it at random for divine guidance. Sa’eed had to wrestle with the growing con­viction that his father’s Islam was wrong. Due to Kasha Yohanna’s virtuous life and compelling faith, Sa’eed at last placed his own faith in Jesus Christ, and turned from Islam.

Accordingly, the young mullah was no longer able to mount the minaret for the call to prayer. Isaac Yonan records the drama:

You can imagine the scene before you. It is sunset time; the muez­zins from a dozen minarets of Senneh have begun singing solemnly the familiar Arabic phrase, Allahu Akbar, God is great. But Sa’eed’s voice was silent; he did not even show up at the mosque. There was a stir of anxiety among his kinsfolk who daily had listened with pride to the melo­dious voice of their pious Sa’eed when he uttered the phrase Allahu Akbar. While they were thus pondering his fate, Sa’eed came home; but before explaining the cause to the excited groups of relatives, he handed to his brother a letter which he had prepared.

The contents of the letter were as follows:

In the one only God’s name. My brother. You know that the dangers to my life grow greater every day. To remain in my paternal home is impossible. I am a Christian, and confess it openly to you. If you will murder your brother, my life is in your hand. I cannot escape you; yet death is also a gain to me. If you spare my life I shall be very thankful, and will all my life respect you, and serve you as much as I can. My wish is to flee from here so that you may get more peace. Your brother, Sa’eed.

Jay Rasooli writes, “A sudden explosion of a bomb could not have terrified the fam­ily as these words did. ‘Blasphemy!’ they all shouted frantically. All agreed that Sa’eed had been duped by the stranger, the Christian to whom he had been giv­ing lessons in Persian in the past years.” [3]

Sa’eed was baptized April 10, 1887, in public, with Muslims present. (to be continued)


[1] Jay M. Rasooli and Cady Hews Allen, The Life Story of Dr. Sa’eed of Iran; Kurdish Physician to Princes and Peasants, Nobles and Nomads (Grand Rapids, MI: International Publications, 1957). 24

[2] Isaac Malek Yonan, The Beloved Physician of Teheran; the Miracle of the Conversion of Dr. Sa’eed (Nashville: Cokesbury Press, 1934). 24-25

[3] Ibid.

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 23, 2012 6:17 pm

    What an amazing story. Thank you. Can’t wait to hear more.

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