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Johannah Murphy's Blog

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Reaching for Muhammad in 4’s

O love-intoxicated Muhammad, meet your yearning lovers.

Countless beings have sacrificed themselves, Muhammad, meet your

yearning lovers


In the chapter In Praise of Muhammad: Sindhi and Urdu Poems, tears, yearning, unrest, absence, beloved, and distance, all become important ways of describing a poet’s relationship to Muhammad. Ali Asani in this chapter discusses the Sindhi poem in praise of Muhammad as a poem that attempts to “assimilate the figure of the Prophet Muhammad to the local Sindhi milieu…many Sindhi poets adopt into their eulogies the symbol of the virahini, a loving and yearning young woman, usually a young bride-to-be, who is tormented by the absence of her husband or beloved.” (161)


This art piece seeks to simultaneously explore one’s relationship to Muhammad as a yearned for beloved and Muhammad as prophet. Four of the panels depict Muhammad as a falling dark shadow, while human bones reach for the prophet, a showing of a human stripped down reaching for the divine. These four panels attempt with the Quadsi Hadiths and poetry to “catch” the falling Muhammad whose prophethood is never quite within one’s grasp. In these four panels different texts go between the soul and the falling Muhammad. They switch off between poems that long for Muhammad and the saying “and the Prophet said,” a phrase that a companion of Muhammad would say before a Quadsi Hadith. I choose this phrase to activate Muhammad as a revealer of the text, a core part of his “Prophethood.”


The included poem pieces are from the Mauluds of Abdu r-Ra Bhatt, they include:


I am love-sick, beloved, may you be my health! Maulaud 49 And

Difficult desolate distances, dear Punhun makes me travel. Maulaud 45


I used these verses to first establish the idea of “love-sickness,” a sickness that makes one feel the distance between one and the prophet as “difficult” and “desolate.”


The last panel is a reaching, a hand stretching out to a form of Muhammad that is no longer falling and instead sitting, giving the last panel both a sense of calm as well as an eeriness combined with another piece of poetry from the Mauluds of Abdu r-Ra Bhatt that reads: “The sweetest of relationships is that with the Prophet;/all the rest are meaningless!” Maulud I The last panel though words are included, speaks to how perhaps the best way to relate to, to aspire to the prophet is more a process of soul and heart, a filling in or covering of our bare bones, rather than an establishment or analysis of what one’s relationship to the Prophet truly consists of. Though poetry and a following of the Hadiths may help one to attain a closeness to the divine, to obtain true closeness it is not through the writing of poems or following of hadiths but a re-writing of soul and a following of heart, the true skin and flesh to cover our bones.