Mohammed Called by God

Muhammad's Call to Prophecy and the First Revelation

A page from a copy of the Majmac al-tawarikh (Compendium of Histories) by Hafiz-i Abru, created ca. 1425 in Herat, Afghanistan.

Watercolor, silver, and gilt on paper. Lapiz lazuli was indigenous to the region, and can be noted in the use of very bright blues in Central Asian manuscripts - in Europe at the time blue was reserved for very important figures such as the Madonna since it was more expensive than gold. 42.8 x 33.7 cm.
Metropolitan Museum, NY.

The book this image comes from was commissioned by Shah Rukh (Timurid, reigned 1405–47) - it was a 'world history' from Adam to his own reign, and so obviously included a history of Mohammed too. Gabriel is here shown approaching Mohammed on behalf of Allah, to reveal to him the word of God. Later Afghan manuscripts tend to depict the Prophet aniconically, but here his face is shown fully, crowned by a small flame halo. His pose, sitting crossed legged on the floor, is highly reminiscent of depictions of Buddha in the region - Buddhism had by then been almost entirely replaced by Islam in the region, but many monuments survived. The seen is set on Mount Hira, just outside Mecca, and took place in AD 610 - the Koran calls it "The Night of Power".

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