Abu of Tbilisi
The Holy martyr ‘‘‘Abu of Tbilisi’’’ was a well born muslim arab who accompanied the Georgian ruler Kartli Nerses when he returned to Georgia from Bagdad about the year 775. His interest in Christianity grew such that he became a Christian and suffered martyrdom. In Georgian transliteration his name is Abo. The martyr Abu is remembered on January 8
Abu was born in Bagdad. According to his biography he was an "excellent connoisseur of mohammedan books" that is the Qur’an and Law. There is no information concerning his reasoning for leaving his home in Bagdad to travel to distant Georgia, the Emirate of Tibilisi, nor why he was an attendant to the released Georgian ruler Kartli Nerses.
According to his biographer, after his arrival in Georgia, Abu remained a moslem, but apparently being learned and receptive to new ideas, he studied the Georgian language and then continued serious study of the Holy Bible and Christianity. He attended the Divine Liturgy and perceived its meaning. He talked with educated Christians. Through these associations Abu was gradually convinced to make the decision to embrace Christianity as the single true religion, an action that he made in both his heart and mind.
At the time of his decision, Georgia was subjected to political changed. Thus, like Achmed Kalfa, he did not declare himself a Christian, but was among the 300 attendants who accompanied the deposed Nerses in his exile to Chazaria. There Abu accepted baptism.
In Georgia, Stephen, a nephew of Nerses, became the ruler in Kartli. Stephen pleaded for Nerses’ return, which in time was granted, and Nerses, with Abu, returned to Georgia. After his return, Abu openly professed and preached about Christ in the Arabic quarters of Tbilisi without any ill will among the population. But, a rise in hostility grew to the “Apostate” among influential muslims.
In December 785, Abu was arrested for the first time for teaching Christ and thrown into the dungeon. Solicitation by the ruler Stephen soon earned Abu’s freedom from the infidels, but not for long. Abu’s foes informed the Kadi that Abu was born a muslim and only later converted to Christianity. On this basis these muslims called repeatedly for Abu’s re-arrest. When some Christian friends heard about these demands and suggested that Abu escape, he answered, “I am ready for Christ, not only to torments, but also to death.” When taken before a judge, he went in peace with Christ.
Abu’s appearance before the judge followed the established proceedings. He was offered cash awards and good career positions, that he spurned. After these unsuccessful proceeding, Abu was shackled and thrown into a dungeon to await his martyrdom. While waiting ABu presented an amazing example of his veneration and humility before God. He took the opportunity to sell his property through his friends, with the some of the proceeds to benefit his own cellmates. He asked that the money also be used for incense, candles, and benedictions for churches with a request that his memory be remembered in their prayers.
On the day of his martyrdom, Abu asked to receive Holy Communion. This was recognized and in the third hour he was visited by a priest. After Communion Abu was led across the city to his execution site. After he saying his prayers, the executioner began his duty by three time using the dull side of the sword in an attempt to induce fear in Abu and that he would return to islam. Not being successful, the executioner then took his full strokes, this was on January 6, 786.