(The Angel Gabriel blowing a trumpet, from the manuscript of The Wonders of Creation by al-Qazvini, made in the 13th century)
This wonderful painting by the 13th century Persian scientist and thinker al-Qazvini is now housed in the British Museum and is from the original manuscript of al-Qazvini’s book The Wonders of Creation (عجائب المخلوقات و غرائب الموجودات). The Wonders of creation is one of the earliest and most important works of cosmography. Cosmography is basically mapping the world according to a religious tradition and not based on geography. al-Qazvini mapped the world according to Islamic (and Biblical) traditions.
The Archangel Gabriel (Jibra’il in Arabic) is one of the most important figures in Islam. In Islamic traditions Jibra’il had conveyed the message to thousands and thousands of Prophets, and he also came to Zachariah to tell him that his son John the Baptist will be born to prepare the way for the Messiah. In Islam as in the New Testament Jibra’il visited Mary and told her that she is carrying the promised Messiah and when Mary stated that it can’t be possible as no man hath touched her, Jibra’il responded that he will be born of a miracle virgin birth and that whatever God wills happens. I also find it very interesting that Muslims also believe that Michael became an exalted angel and he became Jibra’il. Muslims believe also that Jibrai’il visited and comforted Adam soon after the fall. In Islamic belief Jibra’il will also return to the earth during the second coming of the Messiah (Christ).
Muslims believe that the Angel Jibra’il gave the very first Sura (chapter) of the Qur’an to Muhammad. This Sura is known as Al-Alaq (The Clot). Although this Sura is found towards the end of the Qur’an it was actually the very first Sura that Muahammad recited. Below I have written the first five verses of the Sura “Clot” in its original Arabic followed by my personal English translation, which I believe to be the closest to the Arabic.
Recite in the name of your Lord who created- اِقۡرَاۡ بِاسۡمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِىۡ خَلَقَ
Created man from a Blood-Clot خَلَقَ الۡاِنۡسَانَ مِنۡ عَلَقٍ
Recite – your Lord is the most generous اِقۡرَاۡ وَرَبُّكَ الۡاَكۡرَمُۙ
Who taught by the pen الَّذِىۡ عَلَّمَ بِالۡقَلَمِۙ
Taught man what he did not know عَلَّمَ الۡاِنۡسَانَ مَا لَمۡ يَعۡلَمۡؕ