Shirin Abu Akleh: An Eternal Star in Jerusalem’s Sky
Since the assassination of Palestinian Journalist Shirin Abu Akleh, I felt overtaken into another level of seeing this universe. That space in which a line is drawn by death on this earth. How death can elevate a human towards a must-be- sacred space where goodness, peace, holiness, and justice are the ultimate truth.
With each death we witness, we are forcibly stopped into a halt of questioning the value of our existence. What happened, what is happening, what will be happening. Often, we succumb to the despair of wishful thinking as we see how a human body succumbs to earth with no words left to describe what was just a living human, but with our helplessness and feebleness. We are incapable, powerless, and unable.
It is only in rare moments that most of us may not even witness in his\her spam of a lifetime when we perceive a moment of death that elevates a human into a Saintly, Angel-like reality.
A moment when we truly believe that there are angels and saints. A human body-transforming, rising to a saintly angelic level.
I have been trying to make sense of “Shirin’s” name for the past few days. A true Mariam end… elevation… rise. The funeral that we have not witnessed for the Mother of Christ. A Via de la Rosa of salvation that continues its trail to redemption. To the rise towards the upper Heaven. A step closer to the Creator. To God.
Shirin means charming. Though not a direct Mariamic biblical connection in the name. It carries a Thousand and One-Night epic legacy of Shirin, the Christian Persian queen. She kept the True Cross of Jesus captured by the Persians after conquering Jerusalem in 614 amidst the Byzantine Sasanian War.
I was captivated by the prayers and recitals during Shirin’s funeral in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Annunciation. It felt similar to the Qur’anic recitals with similar words. It was not a surprise, as I know that the Melkite and Syriac Christians have incorporated Arabic in parts of their liturgical practices. In the Persian epic, Shirin belonged to the Church of the East, the Nestorians, and later joined the Syriac Orthodox Church. The same church that paid our Shirin her last tribute on this life. Shirin, the Persian queen, discreetly supported Christian minorities in Iran. Shirin, the Christian Star of Jerusalem, also secretly helped Muslims in Jerusalem during Ramadan.
Christ Arose. I felt my lips repeating as the prayers continued with Allah Akbar ringing bells in my head. The ceremonial funeral continued towards its final trail with the coffin and thousands of people chanting and swinging, rising, flying like moments of movement that seemed out of time.. out of place.. somewhere in some space. A space that is a step further than earth. As if the coffin with the soul that resided a moment earlier in the body that rests inside has started its Ascendence. Unbelievable moments when time has completely stopped except for the time that meant a soulful existence while the people of this city were bidding a farewell to this angelic human who has just ascended to become a star.
It is one moment in existence when we witness a human more significant than life. Shirin was larger than life. We all saw this God exceptionally given moment of a miracle when a sky is wide open to receive a pure soul. It was a moment larger than life.
Thus, it has been a moment larger than Occupation.
It was a moment more significant than oppression, intimidation, and mercilessness of those with the power of coercion.
It was a moment in the existence of this city that was way larger than meagerness, shabbiness, and defeated mentalities.
It was a moment when the sky was opening its space to receive an eternal star.
Each time we are encountered with yet another oppressive, depressing act against us as people living under an occupation that insists on occupying our every breath of life, an end to life creates an endless, eternal memory of a life.
As with the tears that blocked like a stone in my eyes on the shocking news of Shirin’s murder, rivers of flowing emotions broke out in the masses that carried Shirin to her eternal situation. Like Jesus, like Mary, like the thousands of Martyrs that ascended while defending the truth, Shirin shines today as an eternal star.
For the first time, I feel: It is not. Rest In Peace, dear Shirin. It is what a glorifying rewarding end this sweet, kind woman had.
Dear Nadia–A very moving and appropriate reference to the mother of God in your tribute
I have been trying to make sense of “Shirin’s” name for the past few days. A true Mariam end… elevation… rise. The funeral that we have not witnessed for the Mother of Christ.