The Blessed Cloak of the Prophet Muhammad

Graeme Wood in The Atlantic:

ScreenHunter_05 Feb. 07 11.58 Mullah Masood Akhundzada, guardian of the Shrine of the Blessed Cloak of the Prophet Muhammad, in Kandahar, is wary of guests. When his brother was the guardian, 13 years ago, he accepted an insistent visitor. Today, a youngster with a Kalashnikov shadows Mullah Masood around the shrine, just in case the visitor, Mullah Omar, or any of his friends return.

The mosque itself is a modest cube with filthy blue-and-gilt mosaics. But in a poor city, it is an outpost of opulence and safety. When Masood and I relax in the courtyard, sipping imported packets of Iranian cherry juice, it seems as if we’re at the estate of a country lord. Its most aggressive resident is the goat that mows the lawn. Aside from the bodyguard, there’s little hint of the dangers outside: the area’s main boulevard is Khuni Serok, or “Bloody Road”; on the way to the shrine, I passed the blackened divot left by a suicide bombing.

More here.