How the Arab People Were Created

By Paulo Coelho
For The Bali Times

In one of his rare writings, the Sufi wise man Hafik comments that the path of human beings on earth is filled with contradictions and challenges that can only be overcome to the extent that each of us accepts sole responsibility for his decisions: “Only the ignorant try to imitate the behaviour of others. Intelligent men don’t waste their time on that. They develop their personal abilities, for they know that no two leaves are alike in a forest of a hundred thousand trees. No two journeys are alike on the same Path.”

According to other wise men, God also seeks diversity in all He does. And that was what inspired Alejandro Dolina to associate the history of sand to one of the legends of the creation of the Arab people.

He says that as soon as the Almighty finished building the world, one of the angels warned Him that He had forgotten to put sand on the Earth – a serious flaw if we consider that human beings would forever be deprived of walking together at the seaside, massaging their tired feet and feeling contact with the ground.

Besides this, the riverbeds would always be rough and stony, architects could not use an indispensable material and the footprints of lovers would be invisible. Willing to correct his forgetfulness, God sent Gabriel the Archangel with an enormous bag for him to pour sand wherever he felt it was necessary.

Gabriel made the beaches and the riverbeds, and when he was returning to heaven carrying the material that had been left over, the Enemy – always ready to spoil the work of the Almighty – managed to make a hole in the bag, and everything inside it spilled out. This happened in the place which today is Arabia, and almost the entire region was transformed into an immense desert.

In desolation, Gabriel went to apologize to the Lord for having let the Enemy approach him without being seen. And God, in all His infinite wisdom, decided to reward the Arab people for His messenger’s involuntary mistake.

He created for them a sky full of stars like no other place on earth could claim, so they would always look upwards.

He created the turban, which beneath the desert sun is far more valuable than any crown.

He created the tent, which allows people to move around from one place to the other, always discovering new landscapes around them, and without the boring obligations that the upkeep of palaces implies.

He taught the people to forge the best steel for swords. He created the camel. He developed the best race of horses.

And he gave them something more precious than these and all other things together: the word, the true gold of the Arabs. While other peoples fashioned metals and stones, the people of Arabia learned to fashion words.

Poets became priests, judges, doctors, Bedouin chiefs. Their verses possess power: they can bring happiness, sadness, longing. They can trigger vengeance and war, unite lovers and reproduce the song of birds.

Alejandro Dolina concludes:

“God’s shortcomings, like those of great artists or true sweethearts, produce so many happy rewards that it is sometimes worthwhile wishing that He makes a mistake.”

© Translated by James Mulholland

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Paulo Coelho

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