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After lighting the lamp

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After lighting the lamp, she would give a quick glance towards the window which was already bright with the first light of the oncoming day.  She knew that the sun was not yet above the horizon, for the lamp still shone with a keenness of its own.  The night was still lingering in the room unwilling to part company with a conscious soul.
To light a small lamp in one’s room as an act of prayer at the commencement of each day is what a woman in India would do day after day. That is a beautiful custom.  When all lamps are put out at sunrise there are some who light a lamp at daybreak as a sign for another light without which the day would be darker than the night.
She would then spread the prayer-mat, a beautiful soft Persian piece, its direction towards the East.  She was now going towards the corner in the room where wrapped in green silk lay the Qur’an.  She would take out the Qur’an and hold it to her heart.  Her eyes then were full of tears.  She was holding a book which she loved and respected so much and yet she was unable to read.  She would then recall, crying like a child, that moment when the Voice repeatedly said to the Prophet in the cave of Hera:  Read, Read in the Name of the Lord.  And the Prophet had said in utter helplessness:  I cannot read.
Then she would return to the prayer-mat lifting the Qur’an above her head, saying as though:  O Book!  You are above my understanding.  My head is nothing more than a place whereupon you rest.
Having sat down not occupying the entire prayer-mat but a part of it, for to occupy the
whole of the prayer-mat was to her an act of arrogance, she would open the book knowing only to keep the right side up, and to begin where she had left the previous day.
For a long time she would allow her eyes to rest on the two open pages before her.  The letters in green ink from right to left, row beneath row, each shape mysteriously captivating, each dot below or above a letter an epitome of the entire scripture, each assembly of letters a group of dervishes raising their hands in zikr, each gap between two enigmatic shapes a leap from this world to the next, and each ending the advent of the day of Resurrection.
She would thus see a thousand images in the procession of that script and would move from vision to vision.
After spending much time in just looking at the open book, she would then, with strange light glowing on her face, lift her right hand and with the right finger start touching the letters of each line, then another line, to the end of the page.  What transpired between the book and that touch, and what knowledge passed, without any mediation of conscious thought, directly into her soul, only the Qur’an and that strange reciter could know.  The entire world stood still at this amazing recital without words, without meaning, without knowledge.  With that touch a unity was established between her and the Qur’an.  At that moment she had passed into a state of total identity with the word of God.  Her inability to read the scripture was her ability to hear once again: Read!  Read, in the Name of thy Lord.
Taken from ‘Alone to Alone’ by Hasan Askari

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