The Imam and the Dervish

A Sufi folk tale from the Nile Delta

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        The imam of the Friday prayers bumps into a little old dervish at the entrance to the mosque. The dervish, evidently with no intention of joining the others in prayer, is tapping the ground with a stick, again and again intoning, ‘God can create the world in the shell of a hazelnut.’ Enraged as much by idle talk as impious behavior, the imam beats up the dervish; then he rushes into the mosque baths to perform his ablutions in time. But no sooner does he step into the water than he finds himself in the middle of a great lake in some far-away land; touching his wet body, the imam realizes he has been transformed into a woman. The woman is rescued by a fisherman who happens upon her in the water, he takes her in; and when his wife dies, the fisherman marries the strange woman from the lake. First she gives birth to a boy, then another boy, then a girl. One day she goes out to do the washing in the same lake, and as soon as she steps into the water, she finds herself in a mosque baths, in a country she seems to remember: she has been transformed back into the imam, who has just enough time to finish his ablutions before starting the prayers. On his way out of the mosque the imam passes the little old dervish, who has not performed his prayers, tapping the ground with a stick and intoning, ‘God can create the world in the shell of a hazelnut.’ The imam rushes up to him and bends down to kiss his hand, shouting, ‘Truth, truth! You speak the truth!’ And winking at him with a beam, the dervish says, ‘You had to give birth to two boys and a girl before you could believe it, didn’t you.’

Leo and the Tugra

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2 thoughts on “The Imam and the Dervish

  1. Pingback: subversive islamobigotry at the ground zero mosque | laboratory

  2. Pingback: subversive islamobigotry at the ground zero mosque | expose

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