As we finished our Isha prayer (the last prayer of the day), we noticed a group of people gathering besides one of the pillars inside the mosque to recite an ancient poem entitled Dalaa’il Al-Khayraat (دلائل الخيرات).
There are few places in Cairo like Sayyidah Zainab mosque. Built in one of the busiest areas of Cairo, the mosque is not sheltered from the hustle and bustle of the streets. But amidst the chaos, a different kind of serenity emerges amongst the people within the mosque. Despite having so little in material goods, beneath the outward poverty lies a wealth that we in the west are so deprived of – contentment.
As we walked to join the gathering, the elderly man leading the gathering was thrilled to see us, embracing us as if we were his own children. “Salman? Talha?” he said to me and my friend, “beautiful names shared by great companions of the prophet ﷺ!”. His appearance would show him to be his mid-60s but his vigour and energy were more abundant than any many man in their prime. His smile was a gentle, opening up a window to his soul which showed the sincerity and peace within. So rare it is to see a smile so well-meaning which truly reflects his joy at meeting us, untouched by any insincerity to pollute to. Contentment seemed too little a word for him as he had moved to a higher state of being, gratitude for the situation he had been placed in.
As we were leaving, I turned to Salman to ask who that man was. Salman replied;
“This man is 85 years old and is the former Mufti in Hanafi fiqh at Al-Azhar Mosque. He has been coming to this mosque every day for the last 30 years to lead the gathering in reading this poem.”