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Capitol Latino

Politics, Culture, Reporters, Thieves

Yesterday I awoke to the Word of God and his Prophet Muhammad sung on an AM radio broadcast. Ramadan continues for Saiid.

On Monday, I asked Saiid his favorite passage in the Qur’an. He responded by explaining what the Qu’ran is. To paraphrase: According to Saiid, the Qur’an is a set of explicit, oft-metaphorical mandates on living as a “Good Muslim”. Some Muslims “do everysing”, others pick and choose what mandates to follow, and many of the mandates are interpreted differently by individual Muslims.

Saiid also gave me an overview of his Qur’an protocol. Before he handles the book, he will at least thoroughly wash his hands, but prefers to shower. “If smoking” he brushes his teeth. In short, one mustn’t be or do unclean while handling the Qur’an, according to Saiid. While I still understand only about twenty percent of what Saiid says, thinking uncleanly may also have been among his forbidden Qur’an-handling activities.

Saiid never did point out to me a favorite passage or passages, but he did let me hold, open, and read his Qur’an — a Library of Congress paperback written in the original Arabic on the right side and an English translation on the left side of the open book. The book is read backwards, to the Western reader — back to front.” That is, one progresses through the text by turning the page on the right toward the page on the left.

Saiid says that if I am willing he will take me “to mosque” when he next goes. He attends D.C.’s most-prominent mosque — the city’s Islamic cathedral-equivalent. Of course, I am willing and even enthused to accompany him. I have even considered stopping by Capitol Books to inquire about an inexpensive copy of the Word of God and his Prophet Muhammad. Instead, to save and earn the same penny, I will borrow a copy at my Library of Congress.

Meanwhile and much to my delight, the pious Arabic singing continues. I love hearing languages, and Saiid only turns off the radio broadcast to sleep. “I no watch TV for Ramadan,” he says. “No, no. For Ramadan, instead I listen to God.”

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