Longreads

Maija Liuhto | Longreads | June 2019 | 18 minutes (4,978 words)

Late on a Thursday night in a faraway corner of Old Kabul, a community of musicians and worshippers gathers for an evening of solemn prayer, ecstatic singing, and melodies from days long forgotten.

In a small shrine rebuilt after having been destroyed during one of the worst periods in Afghanistan’s tumultuous history, fires have been lit, milky tea is served, and hashish is being passed around. This shrine, called Charda Masoom (Persian for “the Fourteen Infallibles”), lies at the end of a muddy street with open gutters, lined with houses with cracked paint and tiny shops selling trinkets and household goods. On the surface, this congested alley looks like any other in this part of the city.

But what an outsider would not know is that for several hundred years, this street — known as Kucheh Kharabat, “the…

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