Fajr, the morning prayer


This is a fragment from something else I wrote some time ago…

Especially across the hush of the desert and the sand-coloured villas and high-rises standing like silent sentinels, you can feel it. That pre-dawn stillness when, for a brief instant, the ‘night life’ senses a shift that is not of the sands or the stones and it starts to turn in to sleep for the day. This is just before the ‘day life’ begins to awaken. The very stillness rings out like a clarion. Unbeknownst to themselves, the creatures of the day respond to it. They stir in their sleep, they mutter. The denouements of dreams culminate and bid farewell to sleeping minds still enwrapped in their tales behind closed eyelids.

An almost imperceptible warming of the chill night air is counterpointed by the chill of the night air that is not willing yet to surrender its lower temperatures to the balm of day. They are poised mid-step – Night and Day, Light and Dark, yesterday and today. The dance of their two winds is halted for a moment, captured in the tapestry of pre-dawn, the warp and woof of life. And they make a brief exchange in silence. The merest kiss of a farewell. And then the deep velvet of the bowl of night is tinged at its very edge with a lighter shade of dark.

It is at this time that the muezzin sitting in the minaret of his mosque can just distinguish between two threads and his practiced eye informs him which one is white and which black, when it is day and no longer night. Then he raises his clear melodic voice to the skies and chants in his pure tones, “Allah hu Akbar! Allah hu Akbar!” God is great.

 The sound reverberates through the as-yet dark streets and alleys, up stairs and down narrow lanes, past shuttered windows, through richly carpeted hallways and equally over mud-smoothed stairways. It floats over sack-covered spices in the souk, caresses the dates and figs in their baskets and stirs the flies. It sends mice scuttling for their warrens and cockroaches for their drains. It wafts past curtained chambers and beaded blinds, closed eyelids and the last cobweb wisps of dreams and nightmares alike. Pushing all away. Announcing to every ear in this island of Islam, Bahrain; the miracle of the birth of a new day.


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