Tuesday, November 02, 2004

One Cool October Night in Baghdad

Sunday night mass at St. Raphael’s
The cool evening breeze of Baghdad in late October
Windows open letting the sounds at twilight enter in

The tenth day of Ramadan
The muazzin begins his call to prayer from the minaret
Sound travels for blocks over the speaker system

Mass begins as the first chants of the azan sound out
God is greater, God is greater
God have mercy, God have mercy

Sitting near the window the volume from the altar
Matches exactly the volume from the minaret
The sounds of both faiths each going into one of my ears

Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth
The true light that shines on everyone was coming into the world
Rush to prayer, rush to prayer/ Our Father who art in heaven

Songs of the eight-note scale merge with the chanting of twenty-four
Blending together in my ears to form a beautiful bireligionality
Chant and song forming sounds sent to Heaven.

The God of Abraham listening to the sounds of the evening
Might think that all is well with creation here on earth
The children of Abraham are singing my praises in their own voice

Later that cool October night in Baghdad
The roar of F-16’s returning from another night of missile attacks
The rumble of a car bomb exploding on Karrada Street

I declare that there is no god but God
The Peace of God be with you, the Peace of God be with you
I declare that there is no god but God

Writer’s note: For the sake of transparency, I admit while I am trying to learn Arabic, I don’t have a clue what part of the Qur’an was being recited that night. I was having a lot of images of light, both physical and spiritual. Later I opened up a translation from the 24th surah of the Qur’an titled, “The Light” and wrote down the first line my eyes fell upon. I used a translation of the call to prayer, the azhan, by Yahiya Emerick.


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