An Arab creation myth

By Paulo Coelho

In The Book of the Ghost, Alejandro Dolina links the history of sand with one of the creation myths of the Arab people.
According to this myth, as soon as the world had been made, one of the angels pointed out to the Almighty that he had forgotten to put any sand on Earth, a grave omission, given that human beings would be deprived for ever of being able to walk along the seashore, massaging their weary feet and being in direct contact with the ground.
Worse, river beds would always be rough and rocky, architects would be unable to make use of this indispensable material, and the footprints of lovers would be invisible. Eager to remedy this oversight, God despatched the Archangel Gabriel with a huge bag of sand so that he could spread it wherever it was needed.
Gabriel created the beaches and the riverbeds, then made his way back to Heaven, carrying with him the surplus sand, but the Enemy – always watchful, always keen to spoil the Almighty’s work – made a hole in the bag, which burst, spilling all its contents. This happened in a place now known as Arabia, and nearly the whole region was transformed into a vast desert.
Distraught, Gabriel went to ask the Lord’s forgiveness for having allowed the Enemy to creep up on him unawares. And God, in His infinite wisdom, decided to recompense the Arab people for his messenger’s unwitting mistake.
He created for them a heaven full of stars, such as exists nowhere else in the world, so that they would always be gazing skywards.
He created the turban which, beneath the desert sun, is of far more value than a crown.
He created the tent, so that people could move from place to place and thus always have new landscapes around them, without any of the irritating duties involved in the upkeep of a palace.
He taught the people to forge the best steel for swords. He created the camel. He developed the finest breed of horses.
And he gave them something more precious than all these things together, he gave them the word, the true gold of the Arabs. While other peoples were shaping metals and gemstones, the Arab people were learning to shape the word.
There the poet became priest, judge, doctor and chief of the Bedouin. His verses have the power to provoke joy, sadness, yearning. They can unleash vengeance and war, bring together lovers or reproduce the songs of the birds.
And Alejandro Dolina concludes:
‘God’s mistakes, like those of great artists or of true lovers, unleash so many happy compensations that sometimes it is almost worth wishing they would happen.’

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  1. Marie-Christine says:

    “..he gave them the word, the true gold of the Arabs. While other peoples were shaping metals and gemstones, the Arab people were learning to shape the word.”
    I like that word “shape” so appropriate to the Arab writing, so elegant. It moves along , has a rythm to itself, so elegant and the other way around, Love it.
    …and without the written word there would not be any writers …

  2. That cleared up some confusion I had about my Arabian, great article

  3. […] An Arab Creation Myth by Paolo Coelho […]

  4. biedronka says:

    I agree with Agnieszka,
    a beautyful storry.
    It gives me hope.

    I liked your poem
    too Tania.


  5. Leaf says:

    Lovely poem, Tania

  6. I liked very much this point of view.
    And I think that the arabeĀ“s horse is the most beautiful that exist.

  7. Tania says:

    Everything that is created is all for a reason ,it reveals its self sooner or later ,I have a poem of great love I wrote about 4 years ago , of a spiritual minister and his best friend ,they became friends and she knew what had happened before ,so did he but he pretended so as to not break up a happy family ..And the girl well she had to clear up her past life ,and take back what was hers and move on ….

    Past Lives

    Our energy takes us back to ancient times
    When we were lovers, friends and partners in crime
    That’s when you stole my heart
    And left us in two worlds apart
    Come back to me, I said as you died
    And for many lifetimes I still have cried
    For the love of my life took with him my heart
    There in time we sat galaxies apart
    Then one day the past became present
    And the two friends met by accident
    But God said, “No, this is heaven-sent
    “So give her back the heart you took
    And with rage, anger and discontent
    She did it again and said what she meant
    Because he acted like he forgot
    So she locked her heart away in all
    Its fragments and from that day on he
    Had to live in banishment
    As God said, this was no accident
    by Tania Chilby 2003

  8. agnieszka says:

    Beautiful story Paulo,
    thank You.

    It’s so true that, when we make mistakes, behave wrongly, we regret it so much that we want to do something outstanding, something special, something very, very good to correct it, to erase it, somehow.
    We want to do so much so someone can have an impression as it actually never happened.
    By doing that, we give a lot more than we would do if we didn’t do anything wrong.

    Pope John Paul II wrote:
    “evil can only exist with the relation to good, with the relation to God”

    everything we do to redeem the evil always create the good.
    As the love will win over hate, the resurrection over death – the Good will always win over evil.