Ahmed was born in the seventeenth century to a Muslim family in Constantinople. By profession he was a copyist in the Great Archives. In accordance with Ottoman law, since he did not have a wife, he had a slave instead, a Russian woman. Another captive from Russia lived together with her, an old woman, also a slave. Both these women were very pious.
On feast days the old woman would go to church. Taking the blessed bread or antidoron, she would give it to the young woman to eat. The old woman would also bring her holy water to drink. Whenever this occurred and Ahmed was close to her, he would smell a beautiful and indescribable fragrance coming out of her mouth. He would ask her what she was eating to make her mouth smell so fragrant. Not realizing what was happening, the slave would say that she was not eating anything. However, he persisted in asking. Eventually she told him that she was eating the bread which had been blessed by the priests, which the old woman brought her whenever she returned from church.
On hearing this, Ahmed was filled with longing to see the Orthodox church and how Orthodox received this blessed bread. Therefore he summoned a priest and told him to prepare a secret place for him, so that he could go when the Patriarch was serving the Liturgy. When the appointed day arrived, dressed as an Orthodox Christian, he went to the Patriarchate and followed the Divine Liturgy. While he was in church, he saw the Patriarch shining with light and lifted off the floor, as he came out of the altar and through the holy doors to bless the people. As he blessed, rays of light came from his finger tips, but though the rays fell on the heads of all the Orthodox, they did not fall on Ahmed’s head. This happened two or three times and each time Ahmed saw the same thing. Thus, Ahmed came to the faith. Without hesitation he sent for the priest, who gave him rebirth through baptism.
Ahmed remained a secret Orthodox for some time, concealing his baptismal name, which is why it has not come down to us.
However, one day Ahmed and certain noblemen were eating together. Afterwards they sat talking and smoking, as is the custom. In the course of the conversation they began to discuss what the greatest thing in the world. Each gave his opinion. The first guest said that the greatest thing in the world was for a man to have wisdom. The second maintained that woman was the greatest thing in the world. And yet a third said that the greatest thing in the world, and by far the most delightful, was good food – for was this not the food of the righteous in paradise?
Then it was Ahmed’s turn. They all turned to him, asking him for his opinion on this matter. Filled with holy zeal, Ahmed cried out that the greatest thing of all was the Faith of the Orthodox. And confessing himself to be a Christian, he boldly censured the falseness and deception of the Muslims. At first, on hearing this the Muslims were aghast. Then, filled with unspeakable rage, they fell on the holy martyr and dragged him to a judge, so that he could be sentenced to death. He was beheaded, receiving the crown of martyrdom on the orders of the ruler on 3 May 1682.
Glory to God! Thank you for the article. It shows how the greatest miracles can take place by the grace of God Almighty.
Fr. Charles Constantine J. Simones says
Your web site is brilliant. It is truly a great tool to evangelize the world for the Orthodox Church. I want you to know that I connect with you because I was at the seminary with Fr. Triantafilou and he became the godfather of my youngest son. I would recommend that your postings on the conversion stories would have an of icon for printing the article. The article about the conversion and martyrdom of Ahmed the Muslim was truly great. I believe that I had read about this in the past but never the way you posted it. Thank you father for great service to our precious Orthodox Christian Church.
+Fr. Constantine J. Simones
P.S. I have a number of articles, long and short that are of great interest to the contemporary Christian world. Do you welcome such articles?
Fr. John says
Thanks for the kind words, Fr. Constantine, and thanks for supporting our work and mission.
I absolutely welcome such articles – please send them to frjohn at journeytoorthodoxy dot com. If they do not fall into the categories of this website, we may use them for Preachers Institute or Good Guys Wear Black.
Wonderful. I would love to hear more “old” stories of conversion like this.
Loved reading this article. Thanks!! It is good to have you back posting again, I, as I am sure others, missed your presence through the wonderful postings. Again, I am sure with others, hope you had nice break from educating us all and you are doing that !!!
Travis-Gregory Cutbirth says
I love this story. I can think of some similar things in my own experiences with the Liturgy, and those of friends. For those who are on FB, I have an album of several pictures from an Orthodox Baptism in New Mexico where the Newly Illumined is picked up on film as such, and by an unbelieving Jewish man (whose daughter had converted and was attending the Church, and that service). He took over 100 pictures which show this amazing light, which showed up on his negatives, not just in the prints (as we know, symbolism in Orthodoxy is not just a visual reference to illustrate an abstract concept, but is a visual reminder for our natural eyes of what our spiritual eyes can’t yet behold, of what is *actually* taking place). There’s a reason for the white garments and candles, for, “As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ”, and He is Light and Life! Agios Phos, indeed! 🙂