Isaac of Qatar
St IsaacA Qatar Saint
Isaac of Qatar was born in Qatar (then known as Baat Katiriya or Bet Katraye) at around the time Islam was sweeping through the Arabian peninsula. Isaac was, however, a member of the Nestorian Church that had set up in Arabia after fleeing persecution elsewhere, and was at the time tolerated by Muslims.
Isaac of Qatar is also known as St Isaac and as Isaac of Syria, and is sometimes confused with another St Isaac (also known as Issac of Syria), who was the abbot of Spoleto and lived in the previous century.
Isaac and his brother entered a monastery in Bet-Qatraje in Kurdistan while they were still young. He later became Bishop of Nineveh, a city on the banks of the Tigris, but resigned after just a few months to retreat to Mount Matout. His successor, Sabr Isho, was to follow his example, resigning his seat in favour of solititude in the mountains.
In Matout Isaac lived in solitude among the Anchorites: Christians who lived in solitary cells. It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that he said, The man who follows Christ in solitary mourning is greater than he who praises Christ amid the congregation of men". He certainly lived this belief, remaining in the mountain until his advancing age and blindness (said to have been caused by the reading of the scriptures) lead him to to retire to a monastery in Rabban Shabur, where he stayed till his death in c 700.
Isaac became well known for his writing on the scriptures, completing a total of 91 homiles, and although a Nestorian till he died his writings were adopted by the Orthodox Church.
While he lived hundreds of years ago in a time unimaginably different from now, some of his writings are valid to humanity even today:
"Be persecuted, rather than be a persecutor. Be crucified, rather than be a crucifier. Be treated unjustly, rather than treat anyone unjustly. Be oppressed, rather than zealous. Lay hold of goodness, rather than justice." (Source: Isaac of Syria).
Also see IsaacTheSyrian.com