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Reincarnation Stories
Remembering the Old Paths
 

One balmy evening during our undergrad days, one of my friends, an orthodox Muslim named Esa, and I went out for an after-dinner walk. We talked of various things, and he told me this story. Muslims refuse to believe in reincarnation, and so this was the last thing I ever expected to hear from Esa.

He told me that when he was a young boy of six, he and his family went on pilgrimage to visit the most important Shiite holy town of Karbala in Iraq. Those were the peaceful days under Saddam, even before the Iran-Iraq war. As they wandered around town, they realised that they had lost the way to the most holy Imam Hussein mosque and mausoleum. Unfortunately, no one in their group knew proper conversational Arabic and, before long, they had given up hopes of arriving at the mosque in time to attend evening prayers.

Little Esa, who was tagging along with his mom, was smiling broadly, as if relishing the discomfiture of his family members. Bemused, they turned to him and asked him whether he knew the way. To their surprise, he exclaimed "Yes!"

He led the group through the maze of narrow walkways and alleys and, within a few minutes, they'd reached the main mosque, well before prayer time! Turning to him, his mother asked him how he'd known the way. He still remembers his reply: "I was born here, and I was Imam at this mosque!" Esa's father's great-great-grandfather was the chief priest at the famous Imam Hussein mosque sometime in the last century.

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john@beyondreligion.com


Posted January 31, 2008