A Mosque in Damascus

I am in a mosque in Damascus. The red and blue carpet smells of ittar as I place my face upon the ground in prostration. The soft whispers of dhikr and recitation of God’s words caress the walls and windows of the musallah. Shelves of gold inked books stand at attention, guarding the perimeter of the Sacred. I wish peace upon my shoulders and I soak in the spirit of the room. This is a house of worship. I choose an old Quran from the multitude and search for a place to sit. Finding an empty pillar, I place myself at its base, legs crossed, and open the book at The Opening.

“In the name of Allah, the most merciful, the source of mercy.”

I form each letter in my mind, following each vowel, each inflection. My voice just escapes my breath, hovering like mist upon the ocean shore. I whisper God’s words to myself and to my angels.

A half hour passes and I scan the room for my teacher. He is late. I continue in my recitation, practicing the sounds I imbued last week. Another piece of an hour goes by and I return the Quran to its home. I leave the mosque and place my tired shoes on my feet.

I walk along a side street, staring into hummus shops and bakeries. I hail a taxi and tell the driver to take me back to my apartment. The driver lights a local cigarette and offers me one. I decline his offer.

We drive quickly until we hit traffic in Muhajireen. I decide it is faster to walk from here. I pay the driver and grab my pack. I walk along Jisr al-Abyad, thinking of dinner and my research paper. It’s just a Tuesday in Damascus.