Once the sight of it came face to face with me, I held my breath back. I had to gasp for air after a few seconds of breathless amazement. The grand mosque* with its graceful, long minarets and neatly shaped, green domes was beyond my perception of peaceful beauty. A conflicting mixture of longing and reluctance mercilessly controlled my steps that I was about to stumble down and fall. I have been waiting for this day for so long that my longing was chocking me with tears. I knew that I would leave the mosque a different person; I will put down all my burdens, which was something I was reluctant to do. I have been carrying them for so long that they have become a part of me.
I had to drop the struggle when I crossed the outer, high gates to walk on that snowy marble yard. A cold refreshing breeze cooled my flushed cheeks when I approached the main gates. I am in! I lower my eyes not accustomed to the radiance I felt around me. I sit down and start looking at people around me. I have never seen such diversity and difference in one group of people in one place – different costumes, different complexions. I look at their eyes and I see all the colors; green, blue, brown and black; sharp, entreating, wrinkled and smiling. There is just one thing in common; that shiny layer in their eyes and the sparkling diamonds at the tip of their eyelashes. They are all calling Your name, they disclose to You their deepest wishes, fears and desires. They call You with endearing names yet I do not feel jealous because I know Your love can encompass us all, abundantly, generously and fairly.
I move my eyes to the pillars; long, softly shaped white marble with glimmering golden crowns. Beautifully designed arches are numerous which gives the feeling of an eternal embrace. I move to the dome with its entangled, perfect designed. It has protruding frames where each frame gently contains complex, beautiful designs. The entanglement and richness of the designs are perplexing to my poor mind, very challenging that I lingered there for too long, lost in their maze. I blink and shake off my head saving myself from eternally drowning in this tempting web. To my surprise, I notice that all the protruding frames point to one circle in the middle of the dome; one simple, infinite circle. I frown and wonder, “Why haven’t I noticed the circle from the very beginning?” I hear a voice from within answering “the circle has been there, clear and visible, yet you chose the hard path to reach it. It is fine to experience the complexity and richness of the other paths. But be ware not to dwell in them for too long lest you should become a slave of the path rather than a passenger, lest you should be blinded of the end. And remember, all the paths lead to the circle, only if you choose to jump out of the web!” Knowing me, I know I will always take the hard way; I will be lost in this mental web for some time. Yet I hope that the love I bear for the circle would hold me out of the web to finally reach my destination.
A tiny movement a few steps away forces me to lower my sight. It is a bird! I notice with a smile. It wanders fearlessly among us as if we were its fellow birds. I hold my knees to my chest and bury my exhausted head inside. I wonder if this bird has to take the same winding, hard path I have to take or it simply reaches the circle. I envy it for its burdenless shoulder. I slightly raise my head and lean with my chin on my knees. I frown and look around: Why are the pillars moving? Why are the arches and the dome shaking? Why everything turned blurry and hazy? I blink strongly and open my eyes again to find everything back to normal. Everything is as stable and unshaken as ever. The salty taste on the corner of my mouth tells me that the cloud of blurriness is all my fault. I close my eyes again and lay down on my back enjoying this moment of serenity. Just a minute later, I hear a low buzz. I open my eyes to find the dome moving to reveal the sky with the first rays of daylight. The circle in the dome moves aside to be replaced by the infinite sky. I hold my breath before the perfect beauty that my limited sight and mind cannot grasp. I put my hand on my heart and whisper: “only you can have a glimpse of what is beyond the sky.” I close my eyes and gently slide into dreamless sleep.
* Prophet Mohammed’s mosque in Medinah (PBUH).