week 4

This week we read some Sindhi and Urdu poems in praise of the prophet Muhammad. One of these was “the Miracle Story of the Prophet (Peace be upon Him) and the Doe,” in which a hunter traps a doe. The doe is distressed as she has left her two fawns hungry in the desert. Hearing her plight, Muhammad appears and agrees to act as her guarantor while she goes to feed her fawns. The hunter, a greedy and faithless man, returns and is wroth with the prophet for letting his prey go. He has no faith that the deer will return. When the doe appears with her fawns again, the hunter is humbled by the miracle that has occurred and attains faith in Islam. He releases the doe and her fawns out of compassion.

To represent this story, I decided to illustrate the deer and her two fawns. The deer in the story is a doe, but I chose to represent a buck (or more appropriately an antlered doe, which occurs in nature but is not as common). This was so I could incorporate the alif-lam-lam-ha of Allah’s name in the deer’s antlers. This reflects the doe’s godly nature and her faith in the takeaway of this particular story: “Whoever seeks refuge in the master [Muhammad] escapes harm. / Those who recite the kalmah, they are the people of paradise. / There is no god but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God.” (Mu’jaza, pp. 130-32). In the story, the deer’s faith in Muhammad is what allows her to escape from harm. Because of her faith, the hunter is converted and the doe is pardoned. She is free to raise her fawns to themselves venerate the prophet.

This story seems to be a metaphor about the Prophet Muhammad as an intercessor on the behalf of man in man’s relationship with God. The deer represents man in times of turmoil, and as Muhammad represents a fatherly figure to which man may turn for aid, in the story the Prophet intercedes on behalf of the deer by acting as a guarantor. The notion of sacrifice resonates strongly in this act, as Muhammad is putting his faith in the deer by trusting that she will return. It is perhaps this feeling of sacrifice and responsibility that makes man’s relationship with Muhammad and with God so deep.

Medium: pen & ink