‘The Prophet used to say when he was heading for the mosque:

O Allah, make light in my heart and light in my vision, and light
in my hearing, and light on my right, and light in my nerves,
and light in my flesh, and light in my blood, and light in my hair
and light in my skin.

Ibn ‘Abbas: from Al Bukhari and Muslim.

His moon; his month; his sweet smell,
linger in the finger
- fronds of evening shade
between the mesjid’s balustrade
of light; a lawful spell
to awe the maghrib-bringer
floating in the swell
the cooling sun has made.

His call; his calm; his last light,
blend into a splendour
through the mashrabiyya
of the mesjid; the jalabiyya
of surat for the night,
lull the prayer-time vendor
into circles of delight
that grace the mind and ear.

His love; his land; his blent breeze,
drone throughout the dome
in tiles and chords of time
that enervate the mesjid’s rhyme
of golden-angled ease;
they draw the faithful home
to a Qibla which decrees:
the light of love’s sublime.

Nigel Holt


(1) Mesjid - the Arabic word for mosque.
(2) Maghrib – both sunset and the sunset prayer.
(3) Mashrabiyya - wooden grille or grate used to cover windows or balconies made in a lattice-like pattern.
(4) Jalabiyya – traditional long robe worn by both Arab men and women.
(5) Surat (pl) – one ‘Sura’- the Arabic term for "chapter" (i.e. as in a written work of literature). The term usually refers to the 114 suras that make up the Qur'an.
(6) Qibla - the direction of the Ka’aba towards which Muslims turn for their daily prayers.

If you've any comments on this poem, Nigel Holt would be pleased to hear from you.