The Light Shines through Many Windows and Islam Is One Thereof

J R E Harger

Let me describe the experience I had when, as a callow simple-minded farmboy from a Christian family New Zealand, I walked through the door of the shrine devoted to a Prophet of Islam. That shrine was erected to honour Imam Reza, the eighth Shi'ite Imam in the city of Mashad, Iran. The year was 1972 and I was 34 years old, a scientist by practice and a “confirmed” materialist. But, I wanted to know about Islam so I asked my father in law to take me to visit the mosque nearest to their house in a suburb of Tehran so that I might better understand. He reacted with some considerable intensity and asked me why I wanted to go to that place so I said that I wanted to know about Islam, to know what it was. Without further ado he said we would not be visiting the local building but instead they would take me to the shrine at Shahr e Rey to the south of Teheran that very weekend. I protested that such a complex visitation was not necessary that the local building would do whereupon I was firmly informed that it would not be appropriate at all. Thus it was that four of us decamped via a very long taxi ride down the mountain to Shahr e Ray on the plains below. You may wish to view the Shah-Abdol-Azim shrine to which we travelled here:

At the front of the shrine we were invited to lodge our foot-ware inside some little cubby-holes before proceeding inside. So far so good but as I stepped inside my eyes were filled with a myriad of dancing lights – the ceiling and walls seemed to blaze with light reflected from a vast array of mirrored tiles.

Then as my father in law motioned me to the center of the mosque, directly under the tiled dome I beheld a central silver-mounted cage-structure enclosing a face-down rectangular tomb-stone. I learned later that this “golden net around the holy grave” was called the holy Zarih. More than that, the emotional atmosphere commenced to congeal into a golden presence as I approached the Zarih. By the time I was able to grasp the silver-mounted network I had become saturated by this golden sweet effulgence – not that I could not maintain my own personal coherence for I was readily able to do this - but at the same time I was conscious that I had joined a high clear consciousness, a state of being really, that was not me but was one to which I was instantly melded. As I moved away from the Zarih the golden presence successively ebbed until I stood outside the shrine once again with my shoes on.

Well, what a surprise for a simple Kiwi boy – I had walked through a presence that felt as if the entire world (the universe even) had become a translucent golden sphere. In my short journey I felt as though I had been progressively swallowed up by an orb of honey, not just any old blob of honey in a container, but a sphere through which shone an unworldly light of pure grace. If I were to allocate a name to this presence it would be the light of divine comprehension as I now see it.

Well, needless to say I immediately asked my father in law if there were more such shrines in Iran – only one he said, and that is erected over the tomb of the eighth Shi'ite Imam. It belongs to Imam Reza and is situated in the city of Mashad, to the north of here. So off we went to Mashad, my wife and I, and there I found it was just as my father in law had reported, only more so.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful