“It’s not a lion,” the four-year-old whispers in his tribal language.
He remembers back to a few months ago when he had spotted something golden along the horizon line where the hot air appeared to vibrate. The boy had screamed Lion! and all the village elders (who are skilled in hunting) went charging into the distance, wielding their spears. The tribe had feasted on lion meat that night. Many went to the edge of the bush and vomited; (they were not used to their bellies being so full).
Now, though the boy knows the figure he sees in the distance is no lion, it has an appearance that is lion-like. It is a man. He has thick russet hair, a long beard, and golden skin.
“Ateer,” the boy thinks. He is too shocked to say the word aloud. It is the word his tribe uses for any foreign person. An outsider. An enemy. The boy’s friends, both six years old, stand silently by as well.
When the lion-like man (as the boy thinks of him, for it is the only comparison he knows to make) gets close enough, his broad nose and green eyes become distinct. The older boys start to back away. The lion man grabs the four-year-old and lays him on the ground in one smooth motion. The man places his fingers in the center of the boy’s chest and parts his skin. There is blood. The older boys run screaming back to the huts in the village.
The boy does not scream when the lion-like man pulls the boy’s heart outside of his chest and examines it, turning it over and over in his bloody hands. When he finds a particular spot, the man pinches it and pulls it until it detaches. The small piece is black.
“This is The Evil One’s portion that was inside of you,” the man says. The man tosses it into his mouth and swallows. In his right hand, the man cradles the still-beating heart while he pulls a golden vessel out of his rucksack with his left. The vessel fills with water and the man uses it to wash the boy’s heart. He then replaces the heart as if it was never disturbed and squeezes the boy’s ribcage and skin closed again. He leaves a line going down the boy’s chest. He did not have to do this. It would have been easy to remove the scar. But, the man had been told to leave the line visible as proof.
The boy’s friends lead some village elders back to the spot where they left him. All of them are confused. The tiny boy sits on the ground, albeit a little pale at the moment, but content and calm. There is now no sign of the ateer no matter how far any of them peer in any direction.
The little boy holds a smile on his face. And there the smile stays, afixed, for always.
For my Muslim readers, it may be obvious to you that my story reminds you of a famous narration in Islam. For those of my readers who are not familiar with this, my story is loosely inspired by the time when The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was visited by The Angel Jibreel (as) who opened the four-year-old Muhammad’s (saw) chest and removed a piece from his heart, discarded the piece, then washed the heart in blessed zam zam water before returning it back inside the boy’s chest.
Clearly my story is fiction, but I was thinking today about that narration of Prophet Muhammad’s (saw) experience and just imagined if maybe other angels had been sent down to any other of God’s prophets throughout history. There have been so many prophets so I wondered what all of their experiences were. Islam says that there were approximately 124,000 prophets sent from God over time, it’s just that we have only been told the names of a small number of them.
Thanks for reading and happy blogging everyone!
Featured Image Cred —> Here