The ongoing violence in the Middle East is something that troubles our souls, even as we hope and pray for a peaceful future. The human cost is truly catastrophic, and I was reminded this past week of the accompanying cultural destruction by a member of the church who sent an article about the recent demolition by the Islamic State of the iconic al-Nuri mosque in Mosul, Iraq. What sense can be made of destroying a worship center that has served generations for hundreds of years?
Included with the article, though, was the story of Aboody El-Tanboorachi, who was contracted in 1940 to repair the mosque. After finishing his work, he refused payment. When asked why, he responded, “Whose house is this?” The answer was “This is a mosque, it is a house of God.” Aboody replied, “Then I will be paid by the landlord!” What makes the story truly remarkable is that Aboody was a Christian craftsman who was known to repair both churches and mosques without pay.
A few weeks ago, in researching the beatitude “Blessed are the peacemakers,” I was struck by a commentary which asserted that Matthew (in whose gospel we find this verse) most likely found this teaching of Jesus particularly helpful for interfaith relationships. His community, like so many through the years, was faced with significant religious tensions and conflicts. What better place for us to start the work of peacemaking? Aboody’s craftsmanship is now, sadly, lost to history, but his witness as a peacemaker still shines brightly.
Grace and peace,