Book Review: prayer candles and jinn

I read a book this winter called “Birds Without Wings.” Truly a masterpiece about villagers in a small, remote village in Turkey during the fall of the Ottoman Empire and Turkey’s beginning days.

It was unique for many reasons particularly the style of how the author presented the story: short stories of different members of the village; sometimes told in first person and sometimes in the third person. He interwove the village life with short chapters on Mustafa Kamel.

The content of the story, rather the villager’s lives, was what captured me especially as the author carefully but simply presented the story of Muslims and Christians living together. The Christian women would light candles for their Muslim friends, and the Muslims would get advice from the local Sheikh for their Christian friends. Each was buried with a relic of the other faith. Comical at times, I was left with a sense of profound beauty.

Tonight I got a message from my Pakistani Muslim roommate saying she felt jinn in her room. Without thinking, I, an Egyptian Christian, grabbed a Mexican prayer candle that some American Christian gave me, lit it, and took it to her room right before she played the Quran.

Sitting back down in my room, feeling confident that we would be able to dispel any discomfort she was feeling (although I am not necessarily a believer in jinn, I do believe in spiritual and emotional warfare and any range of lesser feelings that can sometimes cause discomfort), I remembered the book. So in a sense, this is a book review and a very big recommendation to read it, and in another sense this is me reflecting on life, and how often it is through the simple things that the most complex are manifested.

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