For many people in Iraq, the worst and the most hellish days are when they face armed attack from one of the gangs operating in Baghdad. However, for a Christian Bishop, the same day proved to be the most blissful day of his life! Fifty-year-old Father Thamir Nasrani was intercepted by an armed group that opened fire on him in one of the suburbs of Baghdad. He fell on the ground bleeding profusely and the gang bolted out after the assault. The police took their own time in reaching the site of the incident accompanied by an ambulance. The medical assistance team tried hard to stop the acute bleeding while he was rushed to the hospital in the ambulance. The doctors at the hospital concluded that there is no use in providing further medical assistance to Father Thamir because he had sunk into the unconsciousness of inevitable death. They decided to keep him in the mortuary refrigerator. But a miracle happened there!
Father Thamir states, “While I was completely unconscious, I saw two persons with light emanating from them towards heaven. One of them was more charming and radiant than the other. This man told me, Get up and follow me.’ I asked him, 'Sir, who are you?’ He did not respond but he repeated his order. I immediately got up and started walking behind him slowly. We were walking between two rows of people unknown to me. At the end, a door appeared and he stopped there. He turned towards me and said, ‘Stop here and don’t come with me.’ Then he disappeared through that door.
At that moment, I suddenly woke up and found myself in a refrigerator among dead bodies! I was extremely scared. But after composing myself, I got up and opened the door of the room. I walked down the passage for a while and found my relatives and friends crying with a coffin lying nearby, which they had brought to carry my body for burial! They seemed to lose track of everything when they saw me alive.
But soon they surrounded me and started yelling and calling for doctors. Doctors and nurses could not believe their eyes when they saw me alive. They were baffled by my survival after so many hours and soon shifted me to the operation theatre to extract bullets from my body and for further treatment and blood transfusion.
The doctors felt that what happened to Father Thamir is a miracle as they are unable to understand the reason for his survival. As for Father Thamir, he was haunted by this mystery for months until he chanced upon the right answer!
Father Thamir states, “I was recovering slowly from my physical injuries, yet I kept asking myself about the person whom I saw in the mortuary refrigerator and what actually happened to me. This question was hovering on my mind day and night and I was not able to get an answer. Hence, I kept praying to God to guide me to the answer.” “Once, one of my friends asked me to accompany him to visit his Muslim friend who was residing in the Kazmia region of Baghdad – a holy city of Shia Muslims where two Imams, Musa al- Kazim and Muhammad al- Jawwad, peace be upon them, are buried. While we were in Mr. Naseer Hassan Ali’s house, my friend turned towards me and said, “How about relating your story to Mr. Naseer?” I said, “Sure”.
When I finished my narration, Mr. Naseer inquired, “Do you remember the features of the person whom you saw in your dream?” I said, “Yes”. He said, “If I show you some pictures, will you be able to recognize him?” I said, “Of course, as long as he is one among them”. Mr. Naseer brought some pictures and asked me to have a look at them. While browsing through the pictures one by one, I exclaimed, “Oh my God, this is him!” He asked me, “Are you sure?” I said “Yes, this is him. Please tell me who this person is?” He replied that this was Imam Ali, peace be upon him!
I couldn’t believe that because even though I was a tolerant Christian, I was a firm believer of my religion. My forefathers were the ones who wrote the Holy Book and my family has a tremendous history of serving the church.
It was quite difficult for me to believe that the person whom I saw and who breathed new life into me was Imam Al i , the cousin of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him and his family) and husband of his daughter, Fatima al-Zahraa (peace be upon her). This was so distant from my Christian belief.
While I was still in this state of bewilderment, Mr. Naseer asked me, “What about visiting the sons of Ali, Imam Musa and Imam Jawwad along with us in the Holy House. There you can talk to them and do some soul searching. I readily agreed.
I really wanted to know the truth and as soon as I reached the Holy House with two golden domes towering over it, my heartbeats appeared to signal something to me. I prayed to God and I felt as if my soul is soaring towards heaven and that I was very close to Imam Ali. In simple words, I felt as though everything was leading me spiritually towards him as if the God was telling me “The truth is with Imam Ali”.
Since then, the bond between Father Thamir and Mr. Naseer, who heads a religious committee that organizes street processions on religious occasions, grew stronger. Father Thamir, by virtue of his relation with Mr. Naseer, was researching Shiite sect of Islam, the history of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family), the history of Imam Ali and the history of his sons and their teachings.