The muezzin are calling us to prayer. From at least seven minarets I would say, at first in sequence coming closer and closer to our beds, then away again, then all calling over each other.
It is 4.30am. There is an ancient mosque on every corner here. This is believed to be the oldest city in the world.
My name is Sarah. I was barren. Then, after years of service and childless sadness as Abraham’s wife, God said I would have a son. I laughed at God. “A son at my age?!” But God was right. Isaac was born.
Abraham is revered in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This is his birthplace. He was hidden as a baby in a cave to save him from the King’s order to kill all new born baby boys. The King had received a prophecy that someone was newly born that may challenge his position.
The cave where Abraham was born and hidden is now graced at its entrance by a beautiful mosque. Inside the cave, prayer mats are laid out in separate quarters for men and women to pay their respects, as they may have been doing for over 2000 years.
Elegant gardens nearby harbour two famous ponds of fat fish… where God had later turned a fire into water and the burning coals into fish to prevent Abraham from being martyred by the jealous King.
Much later, God requested Abraham to kill our only son Isaac. You may know this story – it has captured the imagination of artists and writers for centuries. Abraham had had another son by my maidservant, at my suggestion – I had not coped well with that – but God chose our son. Abraham took Isaac up a mountain to offer him to God but at the last moment God stopped the sacrifice and provided a sheep for use instead. Imagine the heart break and intense emotion for us both at this event!
Scholars have not been able to prove to their satisfaction that I (Sarah) existed or even Abraham himself, considered by some to be the father of all mankind. Isaac had gone on to beget many generations. But for a once earnest little girl that grew up reading Bible stories and trying to figure out if she believed, and if so what, and for one having perhaps an over-active imagination, this sacred place made me want to fall to my knees!
Sometimes I cannot believe how lucky I am!