A man was walking through the market when, as the muazzin began the Azaan, his eye fell on a woman. She was attractive, though dressed in black, a veil over her face, and she turned to him and gave him a meaningful nod before rounding the corner. The man was drawn, a prisoner of that look. In vain he struggled, but it was finished: there was nothing but to follow.
He hastened after her. She turned, and he thought he saw a flash of a smile from beneath her veil, as she beckoned. The poor man was beside himself. Who was she? What did she want? He quickened his steps. And so she led him, always beyond reach. On to the edge of town. The sun set, and there she was, before him.
Now they were come to the City of Tombs. Had he been in his senses, he would have been afraid, but, he reflected, stranger places than this had seen a lovers' tryst. She entered an old tomb. He went down and found himself in a room, lit with candles. There sat the woman. "Lock the door behind you," she said in a low, husky voice, "and bring the key." He did as he was told. She pointed at a well. "Throw it in." A ray of sense seemed to penetrate. "Go on," she said laughingly, "You didn't hesitate to miss the prayer, did you?" He said nothing. "Throw it in. You want to please me, don't you?" He extended his hand over the well and let the key drop.
An uncanny feeling rose from the pit of his stomach as no sound came. He felt wonder, then horror, then comprehension. "It’s time to see me," she said, and she lifted her veil to reveal, not the face of a young girl, but of a hideous old crone, all darkness and vice. "See me well," she said. "I am DUNYA, This World. I am your beloved." You spent your time running after me, and now you have caught up with me. In your grave. Welcome."
At this she laughed and laughed, until she shook herself into a mound of fine dust as the candles went out, one by one.
Adapted from the original by Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller