In front of the Shah Cheragh Mosque, a guard stops me: “Are you Muslim?”
“To be perfectly honest, I am not.”
“I’m sorry, Sir, but today the mosque is only open to Muslims,” he explains, referring to the festival of Ashura. Trying to be helpful, he adds that tomorrow it will be open to everyone again.
But today is my last day in Shiraz; tomorrow morning I have to catch an early flight to Tehran. Too bad, the mosque with a mosaic of millions of mirror shards is supposed to be one of the most beautiful in Iran.
The guard suggests that I come back in ten minutes. Puzzled, I walk around the block. Will he be on lunch break then?
No, he is still there. With a broad grin, he asks: “So, are you Muslim now?”
I smile appreciatively at his ingenuity and reply: “Allahu akbar.”
With a welcoming wave of his hand, he invites me into the mosque.