In the moments between movements you peeked, M…

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In the moments between movements you peeked, M…


Neil Shea






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In the moments between movements you peeked, Marwan Najat. Stole glances. Let curiosity win. It was too much, a stranger sitting there with you in a place few strangers come, and we all know 8 is a difficult age. You should be praised for the fluency and rhythm of your prayer, the grace with which you know the order and line of devotion. Later, when I meet your tall, rugged father, he will beam at you, proud and tender, and push you gently forward to shake my hand: you are his son, alhamdullilah. I remember Sunday school and pews with creaking backs, the daydream scent of churches and the books with their incensed pages. Wonder and mystery, sure, but that came later. You are already far beyond me. When Friday prayers are finished you lead me up to a balcony above the main floor of the Talabani family mosque and together we watch for a while as the old imam leads his congregation of Kurds and Arabs and others into music. Your father and brother will play the daff, a hoop drum with sheepskin stretched across it, while the crowd sings and dances and shakes the mosque with the size of its longing. Some will enter trances, some will spin like dervishes. Men with long black hair will flail the air with it as though their prayers were whips. Everyone is always saying that Kirkuk is Iraq in miniature—all its people, all its faith, crowded in between the gas flares and the desert plains, pressed up against the darkness of ISIS. Why not, Marwan Najat? “I've been coming to this mosque since I was a small boy,â€ù your father, a Turkman, says. “You know, we all have the same God.â€ù And then he looks down at you. #onassignment for @natgeo

#kurdistan #natgeo #kirkuk #iraq #prayer #instakurd #faith #everydayiraq #everydaymiddleeast #peshmerga #isis #onassignment for #nationalgeographic @petergwin @kengeiger •• a series: #kurds2015




Neil Shea, “In the moments between movements you peeked, M…,” The InstaEssay Archive, accessed June 20, 2019,