The reek of whores’ perfumes

‘How magnificent the new mosque…its cupolas gleamed like oranges….Why did [oil] wealth and Islam go together?….There must, somewhere in the Koran, be a fulfilled prophecy: “For, as Allah Most High has denied you in this world the solace of the fatness of pigs, so He has made the earth to yield a most spiritual fatness, wherewith your loins shall be larded and those of the fruit of your loins, and the richness thereof shall spout heavenwards to His glory.”….the Mosque…seemed a crouched leprous sun-beast, bulbous, pillared, the golden dome the spike-nippled breast of a supine giant Amazon. It was terrifying and somewhat obscene, like its Semitic God….Looking up to the tip of the ithyphallic minaret, the people of the town found something missing….The muezzin practised the retroflex divided consonants that made up the name of God, an emblem of stasis, of the old order never to be changed…”Just you bloody hypocrites with your four wives and your ten thousand houris in heaven?”….the Mosque…seemed a crouched leprous sun-beast, bulbous, pillared, the golden dome the spike-nippled breast of a supine giant Amazon. It was terrifying and somewhat obscene, like its Semitic God….[Brunei’s] secondary title (conventional Arabic epistolary) was Daru’r-ridzwan — the Abode of Grace. What grace could there be…where the reek of opium, of pork-sellers’ stalls, of whores’ perfumes rose to choke the calling muezzin?’

— from Devil of a State

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