Sunday, February 25, 2007

(I had two lovely people staying with me last night. I hesitate to write anything that will seem like criticism- I do think they are sincere in their beliefs and I liked them very much,as a matter of fact. We all seek the meaning of life and happiness. If we find it, so much the better, but all the same...)
To the left in the cart is Zero, a Swedish lady who has moved to Glastonbury in order to be close to her spiritual leader, a Sufi mystic who gave her her name, a reminder that one has to become nothing before one can become something. ( This seems to me to be a universal truth understood by the mystics of all religions.) Her friend to the left of Ibrahim is an English lady, also a Muslim convert. They were here on a pilgimage to the Great Mosque and went praying at all the appointed hours. At first they had trouble getting in, but after reciting a couple of suras they convinced the guards that they were actually genuine Muslims and were let in.
Having prayed in the Great Mosque they were unhappy about the abundance of neon lights, which they felt had ruined their aesthetic and religious experience. They asked me to whom they might address their complaint. My mind rather boggled and I suggested feebly that the Imam of Djenné might be the most appropriate authority, but at the same time I ventured the opinion that their complaint would fall on deaf ears. Although neon lights are perhaps not aesthetically correct for Toubab Muslim ladies, they are exactly what the populaton of Djenné want.
We went to town with the Dolly Express. Lots of mendiant children accosted the ladies who thought them very cute. I explained that they were students at the local Koran schools , sent by their parents to stay with one of the many Marabouts who run such establishments. ' You mean like a boarding school?' chirped the Muslim ladies. ' Yes, a bit', I said, 'only that in this case the children are given no food, hardly any shelter, no medical care and are left to fend for themselves , roaming the streets like scavengers and begging scraps of food to survive'. 'Ah, I see,' said the Muslim ladies and changed the subject.
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