The story of the birth of Jesus Christ, known as the Prophet Eesa (upon him be perfect peace) in Islam, is a story that is known by most people. It is a story that is acted out in nearly every primary school in the Western world in December every year. But what most non-Muslims do not know, is the significance of the Prophet Eesa in the Islamic tradition.
The general story of the Prophet Eesa (upon him be perfect peace) is a story that is shared by Christians and Muslims - from the Immaculate conception, to his birth, to stories about his life and the great miracles he performed - all of these stories about one of the world's most well-known figures are stories shared by these two Abrahamic faiths. What Jesus came to symbolise to Christians is love, as they believe he made the ultimate sacrifice for them through the crucifixion. And to Muslims, whilst Eesa (upon him be perfect peace) is not dead, he is the one, who it is ordained, will slay the Anti-Christ in the end of times. He will save righteous humanity from destruction.
The tradition of the Christmas tree however, is far more recent, as it was introduced by the husband of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, as a gift to his wife (though it was already symbolic in some parts of Western Europe prior to this). And since then, the Christmas tree has come to symbolise not just the gifts under the tree, but togetherness, family and of course, LOVE for one-another.
This could not be better depicted than by this beautiful piece by Lord Richard Macleod, named very aptly, The Tree of Love. In his painting, the tree is made up of the Arabic word for love 'hubb'. In this piece, the word hubb is made up of two Arabic letters and a red dot. The word is also written in different sizes, with white spaces. Richard explains the significance of this,
"To me, this a true representation of Love. Love is sometimes hard work, sacrifice and even pain. The missing (white) spaces represent that; they represent what we are willing to give away for the sake of the ones we love."
To Richard, that love is all-encompassing; not just between couples, but between family members, friends and then ultimately, God. If you look closer, you will see that love is everywhere. The word is repeated to represent this and gives a message that it is only love which makes our lives green, healthy, and beautiful. The Tree of Love is Richard’s artistic celebration of this.
The word hubb is written in the Arabic QEII script, which is the first Arabic-British script in history - a genius, hybrid script designed by Richard and named after the Queen Elizabeth 2nd.
Whilst Christmas is not a holiday of religious significance to Muslims, we believe this piece is a perfect way of showing the common denominator of love shared by Christians and Muslims towards Jesus / Eesa (upon him be perfect peace) and the beautiful lessons he set for humanity throughout his life.
About Richard MacLeod
Lord Richard MacLeod is a Lebanese refugee who studied architecture in Lebanon, Islamic Studies and Arabic calligraphy in Saudi Arabia and completed his MA in Faith, Culture and Identity and the artistic representation of it in 2014 at the University of Sunderland.
Richard is also the Imam of the University of Newcastle Mosque and the founder of a local voluntary group which is setup to support asylum seekers and refugees. www.LordMacLeodFoundation.org.uk
All profits from the sale of this print will be donated to Richard's foundation.