Holy Land: Moslem Cosmogony

Just as there are Jewish and Christian legends that go beyond the Biblical story of creation (see Ginzberg's Legends of the Jews, for example), there are also Islamic legends about the moment of creation which go beyond the Koran; the legends here come from the Koranic exegesis of Mujir al-Din, a scholar of Jerusalem who lived from 1456-1522. You can read more about him at Wikipedia.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Holy Land Folklore unit. Story source: Folk-lore of the Holy Land: Moslem, Christian and Jewish by J. E. Hanauer (1907).

Moslem Cosmogony

KNOW that the very first thing which Allah created was the marvellous Tablet of Destiny upon which is written not only all that ever happened in the Past, or that will happen in the Present or the Future, but also every human being's lot for ever: whether he will be happy or wretched, rich or poor in this life, and whether he will be a true Believer and inherit Paradise hereafter, or a Kâfir and go to Jehennum. The Tablet of Destiny was made out of an immense white pearl, and it has two leaves like those of a door. There are learned men who assert that these leaves are formed out of two red rubies of incomparable size and beauty, but Allah alone knows if they speak truth.

Allah next created a great pen formed out of a single gem. The pen is so long that it would take one five hundred years to travel from end to end of it. It is split at one end like an ordinary pen and pointed, and from the point, light flowed forth in the same way that ink flows from common pens or water gushes from a fountain.

Then the voice of Allah thundered forth the one word "WRITE," and the sound caused the pen, which was full of life and intelligence, to tremble, and immediately the point began to race across the tablet from right to left, and to inscribe the things that had been, and that then were, and that would happen until the Day of Resurrection. When the tablet was filled with writing, the pen dried up, and it and the tablet were removed and are preserved in the Treasury of Allah, who alone knows all that is written.

The next thing which Allah created was water, and then a great white pearl of the size of the heavens and the earth. As soon as the pearl was formed, Allah spoke to it and, trembling at His Voice of Thunder, it melted and became water which, meeting that first created, formed great billows, deep smiting against deep, and surge upon surge. Then Allah's command again went forth, and all was still — a great expanse of pure undisturbed water, without wave or ripple or foam.

Then Allah created His Throne, the seat of which was formed of two great jewels, and He placed it floating upon the face of the waters.

There are those, however, who maintain that the Throne was created before the water and the heavens and the earth, saying that human builders lay the foundation of a structure before they put on the roof, but that Allah, in order to display His Almighty Power, put up first the roof, which is His Throne.

The wind, which He furnished with wings, was the next thing God created. None but Allah knows how much wind there is, nor how far the atmosphere extends. Allah commanded the wind to bear up the water, in the same way in which the water was supporting the Throne.

After this Allah made a great serpent which lies in a circle surrounding the Throne. The head of this serpent is a great white pearl, its body is of gold, and its eyes are two sapphires. None but Allah Himself knows the size of the serpent.

Now the Throne is the Throne of Might and Greatness, and the Seat that of Glory and Majesty, and they were not created because Allah was in need of them, but only in order to display His Greatness and His Glory Who existed from all Eternity.

(600 words)

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