Muhammad’s return to Mecca

The sand comes together to create stone.

They of the faith have come together to form the ever-growing mountain of Islam. They are followers of Muhammad and the children of Allah. Their will is one that seeks the embrace of  their god.

The sand that was broken up long before it was ever stone, ran cool between the toes of the nomads. Their way of life was to travel and to trade. The deserts of Arabia would not care for these people, so they learned how to survive in this womb before the birth of their one religion. They were a semantic-speaking people each tribe had their own way of life, as well as their own traditions and cultures. Those on the outside referred to these nomadic Arabs as Bedouins. These people prospered through trading and were known mostly for their independence.

The sands of Arabia knew of the Bedouin tribes and their chaotic nature. The grains have heard the many chants and prayers to the many gods that they believed in, but there was always a supreme god that stood above all others…Allah.

The Arabian winds of change carried the sand grains of independence to the city of Mecca…the city in which the wind stopped blowing. A birth into a society of trade and 5 summers before orphanage paved the path for the greatest apostle of the soon-to-be-found religion of Islam. His father died before his birth, his mother before he was six. His grandfather, head of the clan of Hashim, died soon after. Life with his uncle drifted to life with the Bedouins and the hardships of the desert life. The voice of those Arabs and the art behind their speech was the virtue that this youth would cherish. Patience and forbearance were required for the lone herdsman. This was learned also by the youth. This was learned by Muhammad.

The chosen artist, the desert sands, and the sculpture of Islam struggled to become one. Muhammad received the voice and visions that he believed were inspired by Allah. The voice gave the artist sight and the vision delivered the sound. These combined conveyed the form of the sculpture and Muhammad knew that he was to be the artist. This art was to be a religion based upon the submission to the will of Allah. The religion translates to Islam.

In the beginning Muhammad would only admit the visions to his wife and his inner circle. The ability to speak and express his revelations quickly caused his following to grow. Muhammad’s proclamations of the oneness of God universally and the achievement of everlasting life attracted slaves and the poor initially. Eventually some of the most prominent men of Mecca began to hear and accept the voice and followings of Muhammad.

Islam was a religion that the poor could see eye-to-eye with the rich. It was a religion that anyone could join.
Everyone did not accept God’s message transmitted through Muhammad. Many members of the clan that he was in rejected his teachings and many merchants actively opposed the message. This did not deter Muhammad. The belief in the unity of God was paramount in Islam. The revelations that Muhammad experiences were written down into the book of the Quran.

9th Century Qur’an in Reza Abbasi Museum.
Photo courtesy of www.wikipedia.org

Muhammad never claimed to be divine and was not worshipped as such. In fact, the strict monotheism of Islam would not allow for the worship of any other being but Allah. Those that followed these teachings and the ways of Islam were known as Muslims. Many of those who did not agree with Muhammad saw him as a false prophet and labeled him a possessed sorcerer. These claims forced Muhammad to flee Mecca. This escape is now called the year of the Hegira (“Flight”) and marks the first day on the Muslim calendar.

Refuge for the artist was found within the walls of Medina and from there he gathered new sand for his sculpture of Islam. Muhammad grew in power, for there was no difference, no division between political and religious authority. Muhammad was a prophet. Muhammad was the prophet. To submit to Allah is to submit to he that carries his word. From the land of Medina, Muhammad issued a holy war against Mecca. After eight years, Muhammad captured Mecca and became the ruler. The people of both lands would now live as Muslims, for Muhammad was responsible for the union of the two regions. This caused the growth of Islam to expand all throughout Arabia.

The death of the artist did not stop the sands of the lost from finding a home upon his sculpture. Muhammad died in 632 with the majority of the Arabian Peninsula under Islam. Without any concept of a church or priesthood, Muslims rejected any kind of hierarchy within their belief system, now that the prophet Muhammad was gone.

The basis of the Islamic faith is the fulfillment five pillars of Islam. The first pillar insists that each Muslim at least once in his lifetime recite the profession of faith, “There is but one God and Muhammad is His prophet. Allah is great and Mohammad is His prophet”. The second pillar is participation in public prayers that occur consistantly five times a day. The third pillar is the payment of the “zakat” which is a tax to help the poor. The fourth pillar requires fasting from daybreak until sunset during the month of Ramadan. The fifth pillar requires a hajj, or pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.

The sculpture of the united sands came to life and gained the desire to grow. The sculpture had tasted the breath of life. The growth of Islam was now carried out through the caliphs. The caliphs were the temporal leaders of the Islamic community. They guided their people through the raids and the Holy Wars (jihad). The defeated was not forced to convert to Islam, but those that did not experienced a fate that would influence observers to think otherwise. Muslims believed that it was an honor to die in service of Allah. This created the most difficult enemy to fight…one with no fear of death.

Islam provided a solution to some of the biggest fears that the average person had. Islam provided a ground for the poor to be equal to the rich and the strong to stand beside the weak. The religion gave hope to the tortured spirit that there was something greater through the doorway of death. Islam offered a paradise beside Allah, reserved for the faithful. During this age, the power of hope and faith drove the expansion of Islam through the boundaries of culture, money, politics, and power. Islam stood as a weapon for the most dedicated warrior and a crutch for the most tortured soul. No other religion had this type of effect during this time.

Within a few decades, the territory under Muslim rule had extended onto three continents–Asia, Africa and Europe. Over the next few centuries this ‘Empire’ continued to expand and Islam gradually became the chosen faith of the majority of its inhabitants. Among the reasons for the rapid and peaceful spread of Islam was the simplicity of its doctrine–Islam calls for faith in only One God worthy of worship. Islam also repeatedly instructs human beings to use their powers of intelligence and observation. This any person could do.

Faith delivered by the sword.

Muslims conquered. Islam conquered. Islam engulfed cultures and accepted other religions, as long as they followed the teachings of Islam. The religion defined people into 2 distinct groups, those of the faith and the unfaithful. Muslims would go to paradise upon death, to be with Allah. The unfaithful would be consigned to perdition (eternal damnation). The religion did not favor a race, gender, appearance, ethnic background, etc. Islam divided people into groups that even the simplest of people could understand.

Islam contrasted Christianity is one major area…the enemy. Islam made no qualms on the identification of the enemies to the faith as well as how to treat them if they are ever encountered on the battlefield. Christianity did not. Islam and Christianity both supported unity in their faiths, but Islam described the punishments for those that did not submit to its teachings. Islam embraced peace and had no fear of the concept of war. Christianity embraced peace, but he passages of war had to be interpreted by he who sought it.

No religion is better than any other.
No culture or tradition is better than any other.

They are only different.

Through history many artists have been born and many sculptures have been made. Some have survived the weathers of time, while others have eroded back down into the very sand grains that were gathered to create them. Islam is a sculpture that has survived the weathers of time. Its foundation is one made up of solid stone, the core is unyielding and the edges of it continue to find searching sand riding on the wind. The artist is gone and the sculpture itself lives, it breathes, and it grows. The expansion of it boundaries can not be attributed to any one reason. Equality, simplicity, and the promise for eternal peace and paradise through the faith in Allah has been powerful enough to bring all followers of the way of life together all throughout history.

This is not a sculpture to be liked or hated…this is a piece of art that has earned the right to be respected.