The police siren comes on with a repeated announcement in Turkish asking people strolling on the Sahil ( Boshorus shoreline walk) to go inside their homes and stay inside. The worldwide corona virus has sent people off the streets and back to their nuclear families.
It is a gorgeous sunny day in Istanbul though chilly. I am in self isolation as ordered by the authorities and as common-sense dictates.
I look out of my apartment window; the sun is being veiled partially in the diaphanous dupatta ( scarf) made by the mist over the Bosphorus.
Watching the boats cleaving the pristine waters of the Bosphorus, listening to the computerized female voice of the Car ferry announcing people to gather their belonging and hold on to the handrails as they disembark as it floats up to my window. Its metallic staccato computerized lilt repeated every 20 minutes reassures me that life is going on. However, it is difficult to reconcile this scene with that of people all over world catching a disease unknowingly and dying from it. I have just completed the wird for a global dua of healing for the world. I am reminded of the words of a Scottish writer :
“ You are well because somewhere in the world someone is praying for you”.
I pause in my Quran recitation and look out at the silent sentinels of the Istanbul skyline who have been witness to a lot more than what we are experiencing in the world today. The merciless Dhulm or oppression of man over man over maal and jah, i.e. wealth and power.
It seems that the juz I am reciting is getting longer with every page I turn. Perhaps because my thoughts intrude and I pause too often.
The evening sinks into the quiet of post asr and the preparation for the galloping dark mares of the night. the pink touching the velvety white of the clouds in the sky is like a bride in white blushing at the thought of her groom in a black tuxedo soon to arrive after sunset.
I continue with the recitation of the juz and a hush falls in the room and suddenly I feel a warmth hug me, filled with love, contentment and something else entering my body, cell by cell………The ayah I am reading stills me. I look at the translation and my eyes mist…….. I feel it is truly being addressed to me in the most affectionate manner of the Divine. Joy rushes through me like a wave and a calm healing hand rests on my heart.
I look up at the sky which was clear a minute ago it has suddenly filled with birds migrating to the west. As I follow their movements it is as if they are on a pilgrimage. Their Ziyarah begins….with the Suleimaneya mosque, the Yeni mosque and then they move towards the Yavuz Selim mosque, they congregate there but never alight.
They then move over to hover over the Top Kapi palace and the little mosque in it, and they flutter over the Aya Sophia pausing as if paying homage and just as suddenly as they came they melt into the western sky leaving behind a sense of purity and freshness of a departed pilgrim.
In their wake the evening angels sprinkle the barakah of Allah as they arrive to take command of the incoming night, and the air of Istanbul becomes palpably laden with Divine mercy.
I re read the ayahs I had read when the birds came and am rooted to the spot with its significance: It is a Divine promise that lays a hand of comfort on my agitated indecisive heart.
نَّ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّـهُ ثُمَّ اسْتَقَامُوا تَتَنَزَّلُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ أَلَّا تَخَافُوا وَلَا تَحْزَنُوا وَأَبْشِرُوا بِالْجَنَّةِ الَّتِي كُنتُمْ تُوعَدُونَ ﴿٣٠﴾