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  • Writer's pictureartgainz

Why I Painted the Prophet (Satire)

"Captain Kirk and Spock as the Lone Ranger & Tonto by Isabel Samaras.

Like almost everyone, I have always been an aficionado of fan-fiction. It’s always seemed to me to be the one venue where the true intentions of the writers can finally be presented to the world, where the secret, repressed stories that the authors always wished they could tell are brought to life. I have always been thrilled reading about Holmes and Watson’s passionate trysts, Mithrandir and Galadriel’s not-so-secret affection for each other, the romance that slowly bloomed between Kirk and Spock, how Hermione softened Draco’s heart… the list goes on and on…

In the sweaty worlds of fan-fiction, love always wins---to an extent that the original authors could not bring themselves to portray, perhaps because of some perceived need to conform to “reality”. In fan-fiction though, boy always gets girl. Boy always gets boy. Girl always gets girl. And their impassioned embraces shake the very foundations of the world, sweeping away all the hurt and the hate. At least it seems so to me. That is the world I wish we lived in, a world very unlike this unlovely place we currently inhabit in 2019, where the hatred of stupid and ignorant people seeps into everything, poisoning it seems the very air, making everything dull and boring, making us all sick and fearful. We could be soaring through space! Treading on the surface of the sun! But no, we are kept from our destiny by small minds and even smaller hearts…

“Faun and Nymph” (1868) by Pál Szinyei Merse. A faun... also known as a... Such witty word games!

In my own ventures into writing fan-fiction, I adopted the conceit in my narration that it was not actually myself that wrote the stories, but a small faun-like creature that danced on the keyboard before me, typing out the words with his diminutive hooves. I had some grandiose concept of how this was a metaphor for how “magical” the worlds of fan-fiction were, how greatly superior they were to the “real world”. This metaphor and my heavy dependence upon word-games which I thought too obvious to explain proved too confusing for the half-dozen or so readers who perused my work on the fan-fic sites, many of whom thought I actually meant what I was saying, which made me very upset. I gave up on the fan-fiction and embarked upon a circuitous road that eventually led to my becoming an artist. But I’ve never forgotten my first love, and my disappointment with the “real world” has sat there, I’m sorry to say, festering like an old sore.

I began to have some vague conceptions of using my artistic skills to create “visual fan-fiction”, but self-doubts and other concerns prevented me from deciding upon appropriate subject matter for quite a while. It was only a matter of time, however. Eventually the perfect subject matter for my “visual fan-fiction” presented itself.

I had accidentally clicked on a link to some horrible videos by certain prominent racist, Alt-Right comedians and commentators in which they made fun of the Prophet Mohammad--- material for which they should definitely be banned from all the social media sites. (Frankly, it amazes me that “people” like Steven Crowder and Ben Shapiru are still allowed any platform at all!) I decided to look into the story of Mohammad for myself, looking straight at the original scriptures and commentaries.

Inevitably, I came across the story of how the prophet Mohammad, Peace Be Upon Him, first met the Angel Gabriel (or Jabril as he’s called in Arabic), how fearful Mohammad was and how Gabriel hugged him repeatedly, after which Mohammad sat down to write some of the most beautiful poetry ever written by human hands. Now, we all know how much of a champion for women’s rights Mohammad was---in contrast to the unfair reputation Christians have forced upon him---but as I was reading, the obvious romantic elements of this particular chapter of his story jumped out at me; the things that Mohammad and his commentators could only hint at due to the small-mindedness of their ancient world, and I thought, This is another part of Mohammad’s story that must have been overlooked until now!

Images began to flow into my mind, suggested by the story. The Angel Gabriel, flying high in the air, flitting from place to place on gossamer wings, suddenly catches sight of something beautiful on Mount Hira. Flashes of iridescence as something ascends to heaven. Swooping down to investigate, he sees prayers rising from the mouth of the cave, the shining iridescent prayers of a righteous man. Entering the cave, Gabriel finds Mohammad deep in prayer and meditation, and such is the beauty of his piety that Gabriel---the one who usually does the smiting---is smitten himself and takes on visible plus tangible form just to hold the man in his arms. Mohammad yields himself to the heavenly majesty of the angel and enters a state of ecstasy. The sensual aspects of that ecstasy…well, it would be more fitting to turn to a true author of fan-fiction to conjure up that part of the story…

I chose to portray that moment of ecstasy in a painting, my first foray into “visual fan-fiction” which I now present to the world.

It is my hope that through this painting of the Prophet, presented with all respect, I can do some small part fighting the small-mindedness and boorishness which surrounds us, tipping the world just a little bit more toward that place where love always wins and the disapproval of morons is rendered a very light burden.

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