6 - 6
Mazar-i-Sharif - Alī Ibn Abī Ṭālib
The road from Kunduz was really bad, especially just before we reached Mazar-i-Sharif. A small bend of tarmac pierced by thousands of potholes. The morning sun was wakening up the landscape, a treeless steppe with rugged mountains around. The road was like a lifeline, where villages lined it like pearls on a string. The villagers were selling goods to the slow moving traffic and provided all kinds of services: clipping nails, changing money, cooling water bottles or fixing the road. Fixing the road was not like heavy machinery is doing new tarmac, its more that the desperate lowest cast of villagers armed with a small shovel were filling the potholes with gravel. A dusty and hot work not payed by any government. This necessary work was only financed by catching some change, which was thrown out of the windows of the passing vehicles. This was the only contribution to safe Afghanistan´s road network from being completely distinct. Once in Mazar-i-Sharif I had to get some water and find a shady place to relax a little bit. No place would be better than the Blue Mosque, where Alī Ibn Abī Ṭālib, the cousin of Mohammed was finally buried. Actually his case caused a lot of troubles along Muslims and finally led to the split in Sunnis and Shias. Troubles not visible around the mosque as Sunni and Shia pilgrims consider this place equally holy. When I was sitting below a fig tree reading an interesting book about Ali´s life, the Imam of the mosque came to me. With his good English it was a delight to discuss some statements of Ibn Ishaqs, a significant biographer of Mohammed´s life, same as thousands of pilgrims over centuries before I came here.