God-fearing and devout Muslims like Imam Muhammad were exceptionally steadfast in their convictions and never allowed considerations of material gain to influence their judgements and actions. Their personal example inspired generations of Muslims around the world and continues to serve as a beacon of guidance and illumination for Muslims to this day.
Muslims and Assyrians in Iraq
The Assyrians are a Semitic people who have a long history dating back to biblical times. A powerful Assyrian Kingdom emerged in northern Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) around 1350 BC, which lasted for more than six centuries.
Assyrian writers and translators, who followed the Christian faith, were actively involved in the massive project of translation that was initiated by the Abbasid rulers in the 9th century. Thousands of books on science, medicine and philosophy written by Greek, Assyrian, Persian and Indian scholars were translated into Arabic. Yuhanna ibn Masawayh, an eminent Assyrian physician and translator, was closely associated with Bayt al-Hikmah (House of Wisdom), a monumental academy of translation and research established by the Abbasid caliph al-Mamun in 830 AD.
Nearly 800,000 Assyrians still live in Iraq with an additional half a million in Syria, USA and other countries. They are adherents of Syriac Christianity and still speak the ancient biblical language of Aramaic.
Many Assyrians in Iraq are engaged in their traditional occupation of distilling wine and follow the centuries-old method of making alcohol from grapes. Muslim farmers, aware that the Assyrians use grapes for making alcoholic drinks, refuse to sell grapes to them on grounds of their religious belief. This has adversely affected the prospects of Assyrian distilleries.
The example set by Imam Muhammad ibn Sirin and other illustrious forebears continues to inspire millions of Muslims around the world.