31 Days of Inspirational Biography: Dr. Sa’eed of Iran

Some years back I wrote about Dr. John Dreisbach, a modern-day missionary who had recently gone Home to heaven. I was listening to his memorial service online when I heard the following poem read:

Christ is my Life, and Christ is my light;
Christ is my guide in the darkness of night;
Priest and strong Advocate Christ is for me;
Christ is my Master, to truth he’s the key.

Christ is my Leader, he peace to me brought;
Christ is my Savior, Christ righteousness wrought;
Christ is my Prophet, my Priest, and my King;
My Way, and the Truth to which I firmly cling.

Christ is my Glory, and Christ is my Crown;
Christ shares my troubles when woe strikes me down;
Christ is my treasure in heaven above:
In every deep sorrow he soothes me with love.

Christ is my Savior, my Portion, my Lord;
All honor and homage to Him I accord.
Christ is my Peace, and Christ my Repast;
Christ is my Rapture forever to last.

In joy and in sorrow Christ satisfies me;
‘Tis Christ who from bondage of sin set me free.
In all times of sickness Christ is my Health;
In want and in poverty Christ is my Wealth.

Afterward I searched online to find out who wrote this poem and discovered it was titled “Dr. Sa’eed’s Hymn” and was contained in the book  Dr. Sa’eed of Iran: Kurdish Physician to Princes and Peasants Nobles and Nomads by Jay M. Rasooli and Cady Hews Allen. It is no longer in print, but Amazon.com has inexpensive used copies, so I ordered one. (If you don’t mind reading books on the computer, the text is online through Google books.)

Dr. Sa’eed’s is a fascinating story. He was born into a Kurdish mullah’s (an Islamic teacher) family in June of 1863 in what was then Persia, now known as Iran. He was uncommonly bright and well-taught, so much so that he was given the title of mullah at the age of thirteen when his father died.

As a child he once saw a foreigner wearing a hat with a brim, uncommon because Persians then wore brimless hats. When he asked his mother why the man wore that “funny hat.”

“He is an unbeliever,” she replied, “and they do not wish him to see the sky, which is the abode of God.” By such an answer was aversion to non-Moslems instilled in the receptive mind (p. 23).

Sometimes he might be in a Christian home and “accidentally” knock something fragile off a shelf so that it broke or sit on a rug and cut holes in it with his knife. “Such misdeeds, while inspired by bigotry, were done especially to earn merit with God by causing damage to an unbeliever or even to one of a rival Moslem sect” (p 24).

But he also had a thirst for holiness that led him to fervent study and extreme rituals. After years he was still “dissatisfied and restive” (p. 29.) His first encounters with professing Christians were with Catholics who disgusted him, as they drank alcohol (forbidden in the Koran).

When he was seventeen, some Protestant missionaries came to town and engaged Sa’eed as a tutor in the Persian language. He had heard even worse things about Protestants, but he acquiesced.

He was surprised by many things: they knew something of the Koran, they prayed for their enemies, they did not drink, lie, or gossip. Their behavior matched their teaching. They used the Bible for language study, and Sa’eed heard many discussions about Christian teachings. Over time he began to speak with Kasha Yohanan about religion and read the Bible for himself. He began to see his own failings and to doubt what he had always been taught. This was agony to him, causing him to burn himself with hot coals as a vow never to speak with Christians about religion again and to tell the missionary that he was no longer available. But the words he had heard continued to burn in his heart until he finally prayed to be led in the true way. He decided to study both the Bible and the Koran. “In Mohammed’s teachings and personal life I found nothing which would satisfy the longing soul — not a drop of water to quench the thirsty spirit” (p. 38). Finally he yielded to faith in God.

His heart was now at peace, but his persecutions began in earnest. Even his own brother planned to kill him. The rest of the book details his growth, his training as a physician, and his life as a testimony to the One who saved him. Though often in danger, he never failed to treat anyone who called on him, even his enemies. His faith and godly character were a witness and a reflection of the One in Whom he believed.

(Reposted from the archives)

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For the 31 Days writing challenge, I am sharing 31 Days of Inspirational Biography. You can find others in the series here.

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2 thoughts on “31 Days of Inspirational Biography: Dr. Sa’eed of Iran

  1. Pingback: 31 Days of Inspirational Biography | Stray Thoughts

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