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Ziwar Muhammad Isma’il (2003) - Killed at Work

Ziwar Muhammad Isma’il (2003) - Killed at Work


Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14

When Christian taxi driver Ziwar Muhammad Isma’il, a convert from Islam, took a call for a fare on 17 February 2003, he could never have guessed it would be his last. Unlike many Christian converts in Iraq, Ziwar was quite open about his new faith and as a result was threatened by his relatives and others. He was arrested twice, though not charged, and also received death threats.

Ziwar worked in Zakho, in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. Taking a call for a taxi was an everyday occurrence for him, but on this day in 2003 he was shot early in the morning at a taxi rank. His assailant approached Ziwar and challenged him to leave his new faith. At Ziwar’s refusal, the gunman shot him 28 times with an automatic rifle, shouting, “Allahu Akbar” (“god is great”).

Other taxi drivers gave chase, caught the killer and handed him over to the police. The murderer claimed that Muhammad, the founder of Islam, appeared to him in a dream and told him to kill Ziwar. The taxi driver left a widow and five children.

I thank you Lord Jesus Christ for your goodness in accepting me, an offering by fire for your Name’s sake; for you offered yourself upon the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of all the world. I offer myself in death to you who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ages without end. Amen.

Afra of Augsburg (martyred c. 304)



Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is the International Director of Barnabas Fund and the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.


Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash


Ziwar Muhammad Isma’il (2003) Killed at Work

Originally appeared on Isaac Publishing


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