What Pegman Saw – Desert Vigil

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Using the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code. This week’s prompt is Wadi ad-Dawasir.

WPS - Desert Vigil 200308

Desert Vigil

“God is great!”

I gaze up at the stars. The beauty of the night sky cuts me like a sword. I am caught up in the purity of the desert, overwhelmed by awe and gratitude. Here the division of life from death is sharp and immediate. I yearn to remain.

“God is great!”

I smell stone, dry, unblessed by water. Mercy can sometimes be harsh like stone, like sand, like the desert, a mercy that purges, that strengthens, that forces a man’s courage and endurance to grow in response to the will of God.

“God is great!”

I hear the whisper of the night air, the siffle of shifting sand, the creaking of the cooling world.

Sound in silence.

Meaning in stillness.

Tiny grains cohering into a ripple, a dune, a ridge, a desert: a community, a nation, the umma.

“God is great!”

I dedicate myself to martyrdom.

11 thoughts on “What Pegman Saw – Desert Vigil

  1. There’s a twisted logic there, seeing the wonders in the world, acknowledging the awe of it, the power of your creator and wishing to sacrifice yourself to that greatness. It’s not a thing I totally understand, but you’ve captured that thought process very well and created some wonderful imagery along the way. Great writing, Penny

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Land of the stars. Well told.
    I think that the martyrdom aspect of Islam has been overplayed for political purposes, especially among young Muslims who see the encroachment of western ideas as threatening. In its way, it’s not unlike what the Mejii government did with Bushido to inculcate the Japanese people with that idea of Gyokusai (literally, “shattered jewel”) wherein suicide in war was considered more honorable than peace. When a religion promises rewards in the afterlife for deeds done in this world, there’s a good chance somebody is trying to weaponize people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Josh
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I agree with you. As I understand it, jihad is any spiritual struggle against sin, but it’s been co-opted to – as you put it – weaponize people. Much the same as bushido, I think, which is more of an approach to daily life than exclusively a code for warriors. (I hope you’ll correct me if I’ve got that wrong!)
      With very best wishes

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So many (and too many Muslim, too, alas), mistake the meaning of Jihad as physical ‘martyrdom-by-murder,’ when in reality the spiritual teachings of Islam of true leaders (not the extremist zealots who call themselves religious ‘leaders’) refer to it as the journey of the soul, a spiritual mission one takes upon oneself as a way of bettering oneself and battling the lower-aspects of one self. The cheapening (some say, debasing) of the concept of Jihad into killing oneself and trying to create as much destruction and death and maiming in the process … is part of the distortion of Islam that some feed into when they equate the extremists with the religion.
    You have managed to encompass the utter insanity of martyrdom-by-murder and the distortion of the beauty of nature and life, in your writing. So well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Na’ama
    Thank you for reading and commenting. I agree with you about the true meaning of jihad and that what I portray here is a distortion of that. But let me tell you a true story.
    I had a colleague at work, a nice, normal, friendly professional man. A Muslim. We were talking one day about the Danish cartoons. He said they made him unhappy because they showed disrespect to Allah – but he added that he wasn’t very religious. His wife was more representative of the mainstream, he said, and she thought it would be appropriate for those responsible for the cartoons to be killed.
    So, it seemed to me that the distortion of jihad is closer to the mainstream than we would like to believe, and that it would be worthwhile trying to understand it better.
    I think I’ll probably post a longer version of the story which puts the desert experience into a better context. It will run to about 600 words I think.
    Ultimately, God is love. The only way we will combat terrorism is by love and understanding, which means acceptance of all people of all faiths.
    Anyway, I’ve rambled a bit – sorry! Thank you once again for your thought provoking comment!
    With very best wishes


  5. Dear Penny,

    The last line is a slap in the face and a punch to the gut. I will leave it there since there’s so much in the preceding comments that I can’t add to. 😉 Beautifully written as always.



    Liked by 1 person

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