Excerpt from ‘The Collector of Worlds’

I am reading this absolutely phenomenal book these days by Iliya Troyanov, a fictionalised piece of history based on the life and travels of Richard Burton in the 19th century. Every day I am blown over by the poetry in the prose and the richness of its tapestry. The book is rich in both the story and in the telling of it – and then as a bonus, sewn with pearls of wisdom. Here’s an excerpt:

‘A prayer designed like a law is only needed when prayer is an exception, when you step out of your life to pray. But if each of your breaths is a prayer, if everything you do is a prayer, if you honour God because you are in God, then you do not need any other sort of prayer. Eh, you already have the highest form of prayer. In the mosque, prayer is no more than a declaration of intentions, well-meaning and visible to all. It is like a boat, which you make seaworthy on shore but is only tested at sea, when you hit your first storm. Who wants to know then how good the boat looked when it was still on shore? Do you think at our moments of weakness God counts up our prayers?’

‘Baba Sidi is right. A well-lived life is the best prayer.’


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