One man observed me from a distance and, taking interest, wandered over to where I sat. A tall fellow of about 40, he had clear brown eyes and a fair complexion and wore a spotless white robe and turban.

He bowed his head respectfully. “Sir, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Ibraham. I am a resident of the holy city of Meshed.”

I extended my hand to him. “You appear to be interested in my religion, may I speak with you?” After inquiring about my life, he agreed to teach me about Islam. Just outside the magnificent tomb of a saint, we sat on two small rugs to study. He looked to the sky and spoke in a deep voice; “Almighty Allah has sent you to me at this sacred time and place. Within this shrine is the burial place of the saints Imam Reza and Harun al-Rashid. And thousands of pilgrims are now in Meshad to observe the holy month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.” He paused and smiled gently, then talked about how the Prophet Mohammed had received his first revelations of the Holy Koran during the month of Ramadan. In a cave, Gabriel the merciful messenger of Almighty Allah revealed the Holy Koran to the Prophet, to bring peace to all sentient beings. “He pressed his palms and fingers together, and then touched the tips of his index fingers to his forehead. Islam means submitting to the will of Allah, the Almighty God of creation. Please hear as I explain our teachings and practices.” Soon a crowd of staring pilgrims encircled us. I was no ordinary sight in this neighbourhood.

Ibraham kindly escorted me to the library room in his home. I found him to be a liberal-minded scholar of scripture and he seemed to practice the tenets of his faith sincerely, with generosity and kindness. He removed the Holy Koran from a shelf filled with old Arabic and Persian manuscripts and recited a passage of invocation. Then, raising his outstretched palm to the heavens, he began, “Islam teaches that there is no god but the One God and Mohammad is the messenger of God.  God revealed His word for mankind to Mohammad and other prophets, including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Mohammad is the last, or the seal, of the prophets. Thus, his preaching for humankind will last until Qiyamah, the Day of the Resurrection.” He went on to explain how Almighty Allah had sent angels to the earth to help prepare the faithful for the Day of Judgment when they would meet their fate in either heaven or hell. He said that Muslims believed that the main written record of revelation to humankind was the Koran, the final revelation of God to humanity. He also told me of the five obligations Muslims have to fulfil in their lives: to believe in Allah as the one true God, to offer namaz or prayer five times every day, to fast during the month of Ramadan, to give in charity to the deprived, and to perform Hajji — the pilgrimage to Mecca — at least once in life.

In this way, Ibraham spoke for hours about the history and teachings of his faith. He was a refined gentleman, so different from the man who had forced me to scream the name of God in the teashop of Erzeram. I was gaining striking lessons on how every religion has so many levels of practitioners and how shallow it would be to generalise about an entire religion from a few of its followers.

As the sun set, casting a golden veil over Meshad, Ibraham gave me a decorated box of dried fruits and bid me farewell to join his family as they broke the Ramadan fast.

Om Namah Shivay

***Write ” Om Namah Shivay ” if you ask for God’s blessing on your life today. Please Like, Tag and Share to bless others!



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