Voici mon secret…


“Voici mon secret. Il est très simple: on ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.” And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye. -Le Petit Prince


Congratulations, you have been truly blessed.

Walking into the prayer room of the library’s basement yesterday, I heard an unmistakably soft and beautiful recitation of the Qur’an. Every letter was pronounced clearly, and every verse flowed onto the next. And then I saw you, the owner of the voice, wearing a navy blue jilbab and a light blue scarf, sitting with a noticeably large Qur’an resting upon your lap. Your fingertips swept across its pages, line by line, verse by verse. Next to you sat a lady following along with your recitation, peering into her own pocket Qur’an as you read aloud.

The scene was poignant, and I wasn’t the only one who was caught in a trance watching you read. The scene’s effect was immobilizing to the body, moving to the heart. I came and sat next to you, to listen to your recitation before I prayed Dhuhr. I was sitting right next to you, looking right at you, but you couldn’t see me. Because the book you had in your lap, which from afar seemed like a photo album with nothing but blank white pages, was a Qur’an written in Braille. Your fingertips were sweeping across raised bumps, that you translated into sound and meaning. Your eyes, and Allah knows best, but only your eyes, were blind. Your heart, and Allah Knows best, but your heart could see what even the most perfect of vision cannot.

You read on and on: no mistakes and no hesitation. I eventually had to pray Dhuhr because you seemed to be busy for a while. I wanted to meet you, I had questions to ask, but I felt it would be rude to interrupt. So after a wait, I left, unsatisfied that I did not get the chance to talk to you.

Less than an hour later, I was about to leave the library when I saw you with your friend coming up the stairs. This was my chance.

“Assalamu alaikum!” I greeted, discovering an unintended yet welcomed cheeriness in my voice.

We shook hands as you introduced yourself as Tahani and I introduced myself as Bushra. And I got to ask some of my questions. You, Tahani, are nineteen years old, have fifteen chapters of the Qur’an memorized. You have been reading both Qu’ran and Braille since childhood, but this Braille version of the Qur’an only came out when you were in tenth grade.

You answered everything with a bright smile as if you could see mine and had to match it. When I asked if the lady with you was related somehow you joked, “They say she is my sister…in Islam.”

It was a short exchange, but fulfilling enough for the time being.

Tahani, I will not spell out the lessons I learned from you that day. Whether it’s perseverance, a realization of the pathetic nature of our excuses, or it’s being content with what we have; the lessons are all too obvious to be explained. So what is left, really, to comment on?

For the one who has found the Qur’an, found its peace and found its guidance, all that’s left to say is: Glad Tidings.