Post One

A Fraternity of Prophets & Nur Muhammad

(Week 3)

This ink and paper work entwines two major themes in Islamic belief. First, the tree is like a family tree, except it represents the “fraternity” rather than family of prophets. Each prophet, including Adam, Moses, and Jesus, is represented by a ray of light, as the light of the Prophet was passed from Adam onward until the ultimate and complete light was revealed in the Prophet Muhammad. The base of the tree starts with calligraphic Allah written in Arabic, as God is the origin of this prophetic light out of which the prophets received life and inner knowledge. The light shines throughout the entire tree, representing the idea that God gave the same message to different prophets to reach different people, until His final and whole revelation was revealed to Muhammad. As Muhammad is the central Prophet, two figures on each side of the tree represent both the two parts of the Prophet’s mi ‘raj and the two requirements for understanding God. On the left is the angel Gabriel, who represents intellect, and on the right is the Al-Buraq, who represents love; both love and intellect are required to properly know the Quran and God.

 By the same token, the angel Gabriel represents the spiritual aspect, called Mi ‘raj (literal translation of “ladder”, representing the Prophet’s ascent to heaven) of the Prophet Muhammad’s celestial journey. The Al-Buraq represents the physical aspect of the Prophet Muhammad’s journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, called Isra’, as the Prophet travels on the Buraq to make the physical journey. This is described in Knappert’s collection Myths and Legends of the Swahili, as he reports Muhammad to have said, in describing his mi’raj, “thousands of angels were waiting for me. They all greeted me in chorus. They brought me Buraki, my mount […] Her tail was like the tail of a peacock and she had two large wings to fly with” (p. 75).

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