REPOST – How an Amazing Photograph Compelled A Return Trip to Saudi Arabia; Definition of Compel; Shell Shock Defined and Illustrated; Martin Lings’ Monumental Book; Quotation From a Book Accidentally Found in a Used Book Store in Edmonton; Photos of the Amazing Photograph and the Cover of the Two Books 

Faithful readers are aware that I am returning to Saudi Arabia at the end of this month. Do not know if there is wide spread speculation concerning my motivation in taking what could be viewed as a useless trip. Many of my critics (and my friends)  probably see this return as a waste of money, but see that no real harm will be done.  

I shall now reveal the real reason for this untimely journey – untimely as it is summer in Canada, snow birds leave during the winter months. This is summer – not only here, but there. And when you are hot (in Saudi Arabia) you are hot. And when you are not, you are cold. 

I am going, in part, to retrieve my summer clothes, left in the luggage room of a Riyadh Hilton. Summer clothes, my winter coat and a wall hanging. Although this brings a sense of clothing closure – there is another much more compelling reason.

Compel is a strong word., it is to force or oblige (someone) to do something. Some forceful synonyms are: impel, drive, press, push, urge, prevail on; bully into, bludgeon into, intimidate into, leave someone no option but to; make; bulldoze, railroad, steamroller, twist someone’s arm, strong-arm, lean on, put the screws on. 

In other words I feel impelled  steamrollered, driven to return to Medinah, which is (by the way) in Saudi Arabia. The stunning photograph, proudly displayed in my prayer room is the force behind it all. I took the photograph in Medinah, not knowing anything about it, not the history, nor the significance. I gifted a smaller, earlier version of the photograph to a Muslim woman and her family. She and I had the following conversation. 

She: I kept the picture of the mosque. 

Me: It is a picture of a mosque but its significance is that the people entranced looking into something on the left hand side is it is the burial site of the 68 (or 70) martyrs. It is revered, I had no idea when I took the picture of its significance. I could not understand what those people were looking at. I MUST go back and see it and so many other sights and sounds of Medinah. I did not see Medinah properly, not learn of its significance. 

I shall now tell you, faithful readers, what I learned and, equally important, how I learned of it.

Returned from Saudi Arabia on Christmas Eve, in a state of shell shock (almost,) for many reasons. “The term “shell shock” was coined by WWI soldiers themselves. Symptoms included fatigue, tremor, confusion, nightmares and impaired sight and hearing. It was often diagnosed when a soldier was unable to function and no obvious cause could be identified. It is also described as a condition with psychological and psychosomatic symptoms resulting from exposure to active warfare, first identified in soldiers undergoing bombardment in the trenches in World War I. Shell shock would now be regarded as a form of post-traumatic stress disorder.”

I scarcely left my apartment for weeks. In the early days I emerged briefly, walking to Audrey’s Bookstore to pick up a treasured book I had ordered. The book was Marin Lings’ Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources, The Times of London: “This work is widely recognized as the most readable account of the life of the Prophet to date.” Lings was an amazing man, holding degrees in English and Arabic from London University and Oxford University. He was impaired by other philosophers to convert to Islam. He is the author of twelve books on religion and spirituality. 

The book was read during the days of my self imposed solitary confinement. It was an absolute blessing. It was healing – I was missing Saudi Arabia, and it took me back there – during the days of the Prophet (PBUH) It was there I first learned of the significance of the martyrs. 

I also, rather miraculously, found a second hand book at the Alhambra Used Book Store. This provided basic information: A Glance at the Life of the Holy Prophet of Islam. Chapter 14 discusses The Motives of the Wars of he Prophet. 

“Unlike the self-centered rulers and kinds all over the world who embark on wars for exploitation of human powers, and for the plunder of other people’s wealth and natural resources, the Prophet of Islam refused to resort to the sword and fighting unless it was necessary and unavoidable. Instead, he advanced carrying the torch of the Holy Book and the divine laws and would get involved in war only to remove the stumbling blocks—the thorns in the way of salvation—to hinder oppression and tyranny and to hoist the flag of justice and truth. 

The battles of the Prophet of Islam against the infidels were, needless to say, meant to remove those brutal selfish pagans from the scene who for the sake of their own satanic passions and desires inflicted all kinds of oppression against God’s pure creatures and prevented the promulgation of Islamic precepts and beliefs. He only fought to bring about conditions of justice and equity under which human beings could materialize the ideology of world peace and mutual understanding. 

Can such a war be considered illegitimate and unjust?  It goes without saying that such struggles are necessary and that no nProphet could avoid combating those who intend to bring ruin on human societies and cause corruption and social decay. No doubt any wise, humanitarian person accepts such combat and admires it because there is no other way to achieve the sacred ends of the prophet……

Christian propaganda purposely misinterprets the holy wars of the Prophet of  Islam  and ascribes large numbers of casualties to them to weaken the morale of Islamic nations, to hinder the ever-increasing expansion and prevalence of Islam, and to make the murder of innocent people by the masters off the churches and the crusades appear trivial and negligible to the people of the world.” 

The book then goes on to point out the motives of the Prophet of Islam in the wars he undertook, the casualties of the wars. 

The book first discussed the War of Badr and then the relevant war, for purposes of the photograph, The War of Uhud. 

Since a considerable number of the infidel troops had been killed in the Baer war, the next year, the third after the Hijra, the Quaraysh prepared to take revenge for the defeat in the Badr war. They proceeded to Medina. They faced the army of Islam in a place called Uhud. Since a number of the Muslims in the war did not fully obey the instructions of the Holy Prophet, the Muslims did not become victorious in the Uhud War. (Citation to Tabbaqat pp. 27-29) 

Martin Lings’ comprehensive book contains the gory details. More about that in a subsequent blog. 

The photographs will be the compelling inspirational photograph taken by none another than Alexis McBride as well as the covers of the two books mentioned in this blog.