It was a warm November night in 2003 when I first heard about the Book of Visions. Shaykh al-Qusi and his followers were holding a Ramadan gathering on a large parking lot in one of Cairo's more affluent neighborhoods. Next to me at the gathering sat a middle-aged, wealthy Sudanese woman who was wearing an elegant green silk veil and many golden bracelets. She was visiting from Australia to spend the month of fasting in Cairo, close to her spiritual teacher. The woman had been among Shaykh al-Qusi's followers for many years. I, in contrast, had met him only recently but was already intrigued by his charismatic aura, his cosmopolitan demeanor, his habit of smoking Marlboros while talking casually about the saints as if they were his next-door neighbors, and, finally, his own saintlike status.
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