4 Sufi Questions

“How did you spend your time on earth? * How did you earn your living? * How did you spend your youth? * What did you do with the knowledge I gave you?

This is a traditional Sufi teaching about the passage of the soul after death, which is ushered before the throne of God and asked just these four questions. I first saw it on a poster in the office of Moroccan travel agent in Tangiers, but having failed to remember it properly was delighted to stumble across it thirty years later in Elif Shafak’s novel Honour.

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

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