Friday, February 02, 2007

Feng Shui For Mosques

(Feb. 2007)

If a thing were not forbidden, it tended to become compulsory. That was the only explanation Hafiz had for Fred deciding they should redo the mosque in Feng Shui.

"It's Shway," he said, "like sway," moving his hips as though he were a woman.

Hafiz didn't like the other man, though he'd never said. It wasn't that there was something precisely wrong with a Muslim named Fred, it was only that he smiled. All the time. This queer little smile as if there was a joke, and only he got it.

"It is just architecture," Fred said. And then: "The door is going is going to face Mecca anyway, dude."

"I am not a dude," Hafiz said.

"Woah. Chill, man."

Hafiz said: "I am chill."

Fred said: "I meant, calm down. It's just some fun. I know someone who knows someone, and they offered, and it's free. You can't argue with free, can you?"

Hafiz wanted to say: "I can. I must, because free things are seldom worth their cost. They're too expensive, Fred who smiles too much," but he said nothing, and Fred was the sort of man who took silence as assent.

The basement was large, so they loaned it to the friend, who began to have ceremonies down there, with incense, and chanting. Mostly women, a few men, all not of the faith. The woman found reasons to stop by, to ask about the Feng Shui, to move things.

Fewer people came to the mosque, save at night, and to the basement. They did not think Hafiz noticed. There was talk, of rights and empowerment, by those who did not understand that power conferred only responsibilities. Hafiz tried to explain, but no one listened. They asked: Why don't you have a Western name?

Hafiz said: "I already have a name," and was called old fashioned. He became silent, but still watched. They invoked names, in the basement; idols in a place of Allah. When he told them not to, they called him a terrorist, flinging the word about as if it were 'infidel' or 'heretic'.

He took down the feng shui, but no one noticed. Finally he went downstairs, into the darkness, and brought light.

"What are you doing?" Fred screamed, when the friend of a friend died. The knife was, after all, very sharp, and the door locked: Hafiz was a practical man.

"I have decided to convert," Hafiz said, smiling a Fred-smile of his own. "But not to your god, devoid of sacrifice, of duty, of obligations. A faith that does not demand things of you is not a faith, Fred."

"Have mercy, please!" Fred begged, as infidels had throughout the long history of war.

"I am not evil," Hafiz responded, and brought down the blade, cutting precisely (for he had read a book on this, to prepare) and removed her heart, holding it up. It was not still beating, a fact that he regretted, but Fed was here as well.

Fred threw up, gasping, drenched in fear and urine, too terrified to fight.

"I give this sacrifice to Quetzalcoatl," Hafiz said, his voice filling the room.

He walked over to Fred, who cowered into the wall. "Conversion is not done by silence," Hafiz said, his voice terrible gentle. "Only by blood. Only by pain. Only by loss. We grow from loss," he added, bringing the knife down.

He had time to show Fred the heart before Fred died, then put the knife down on their alter and thanked the corpses for allowing the sun to rise, went upstairs, faced Mecca, and waited patiently for the sun.

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