The Truly Devout

Abu Sari owned a haberdashery in the middle of the main market in the city. He spent all day selling, buying and bargaining with the customers.

But every afternoon he drew a cloth curtain in a corner of his shop around himself and prayed.

One afternoon, a mullah visited him. He said he was close to God and wanted to share his joy with Abu Sari.

“Where do you live?” asked the merchant.

“In the desert. There, I manage to contemplate the face of the Almighty Lord and swim in his blessings.”

“If you live in the desert, that means that you are still far from the Divine,” answered Abu Sari, “an enlightened man lives in the middle of a market, and is never a single moment absent from the company of God.”

Paulo Coelho is a Brazilian author who has sold more than 100 million books, which include 14 short story collections and the novel “The Alchemist.” He has been a fan of the Internet since the early 1990s. He spends at least three hours a day online, writing e-mails back and forth with his readers and posting photos on Flickr, MySpace and a blog.

Coelho’s online activities also include promoting pirated copies of his own books. Since 2005 he’s been directing his readers to an online site where they can download his books, in languages from German to Japanese, for free. “I always thought that when, at the beginning of your career, you strive to be read, you can’t change your mind later and become greedy about it.”

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