An Iraqi Town Where Muslims, Jews and Christians Coexist, in Theory

An Iraqi Town Where Muslims, Jews and Christians Coexist, in Theory


Hazana’s biography is so hazy that he defeats a Google search. Locals don’t have much to add. He was “a really great guy, a pure person,” said Bzhar Ahmad, 55, a retired government worker who had just emerged from noon prayers at the town’s Amadi Grand Mosque, with a group of other Muslim worshipers nodding agreement.

None of the men found it strange that Muslims and Christians also prayed at Hazana’s tomb. “The Jews were always our friends,” Mr. Ahmad said. “We never thought about what we were, we were just people living together.”

Directions given by locals to find Hazana’s tomb varied, but all ended up in a crooked lane narrow enough that in Amadiya’s heyday there were footbridges connecting roofs from one side to the other so that residents could use their rooftops to go to the mosque while avoiding the visitors in the overcrowded lanes below. Or so they say.

On the way, opposite a chicken coop with a roof festooned in flowering potted plants, Saran Sabah stood with her 18-year-old daughter, Amal. In the side alley leading to her house was a huge pile of firewood, ready for the coming winter. A Sunni Muslim, Ms. Sabah had prayed to Hazana, and it had worked, she said; there was a daughter to prove it.

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