Sun 8 Apr 2007
Christians around the world celebrate Easter with thoughts of the empty tomb and resurrection of Christ. But there is more. Weather permitting, children are let loose in their Sunday best to hunt for Easter eggs, adding a secular, healthy, dietary blessing to the baskets of chocolate bunnies and jelly beans waiting at home. Even the White House lawn is set for the annual Easter Egg Roll (minus the Christian Rock) on Monday. It is as though many Christians are not content to leave the tomb empty. Apparently egged on by the spring fever of long forgotten fertility rites, the main message of Christianity gets sidetracked to a debate of anything but intellectual designing: which comes first, the Easter egg or the Easter bunny?
Eggs are not the exclusive mystical domain of Christendom (although the ludicrous lengths taken to parade a sacred holiday into outrageous bonnets and Texas-shaped eggs suggest we have entered the dispensation of Christendumb). Secular folk and agnostics eat their eggs for breakfast with bacon, toast and diner coffee. But all God’s children like eggs, including Muslims with internet savy and a taste for the miraculous. Take a gander (but do not confuse his spouse’s eggs with those shown here) at the three eggs shown below. What do you see different in the middle egg than the ones on either side (hint: the left is from the White House State of the Union Eggroll and the right is reported from last year’s Easter Sunday):
In 2006 a man in Kazakhistan (no his name was not Borat) claimed to have found an egg with the divine name of Allah inscribed on it (the one in the middle above). This was a story picked up by Reuters and it made the rounds (egg-head-shaped, if you will) of the blogosphere. Here is the Reuters blurb:
Chicken in Kazakhstan lays mystery Allah egg
Thursday July 13, 02:40 PM
ALMATY (Reuters) – A chicken in a Kazakh village has laid an egg with the word “Allah” inscribed on its shell, state media reported on Thursday.
“Our mosque confirmed that it says ‘Allah’ in Arabic,” Bites Amantayeva, a farmer from the village of Stepnoi in eastern Kazakhstan, told state news agency Kazinform.
“We’ll keep this egg and we don’t think it’ll go bad.”
The news agency said the egg was laid just after a powerful hail storm hit the village.
Kazakhstan is a large, thinly populated Central Asian state where Sunni Islam is a dominant religion.
As you might suspect, this is not the first such egg. Here is another eggzample. See if you can unscramble the letters:
A website dedicated to such natural signs reports the following history of this egg, this time proving it is worth a hill of beans:
About five years ago 33 year old Mikail Guclu from the Regent Quarter of the Hague, Holland, bought some eggs fresh from the farm and as usual had them on sale in his shop. But two of the eggs seemed slightly strange. “I noticed that the shells were a little misshapen.” he said “Very odd, just like Arabic letters, And then suddenly I saw it: ‘Allah’.” Reason enough for him to call a friend. He himself speaks four languages but his knowledge of Arabic is limited and besides, he wanted to hear all the ‘ins and outs’ of it.
“But I could hardly believe what he said – what he could read on the egg was “There is but one God, Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet.” That’s why I asked others just to be on the safe side, and I went to the mosque, to the imam. Everyone said the same thing.”
Guclu discovered the “miracle beans” while sorting through them two days after he had purchased the eggs. He had bought about five kilos of beans, about 500 grams of which bear the name ‘Allah’.
Guclu believes that what subsequently happened with the beans is even more of a miracle. He gave some of the ‘Allah beans to friends. Out of respect he did not feel he could sell the remaining beans; he decided to give them to the mosque, and requested that they be cooked and shared among the congregation. ” About forty people enjoyed a complete meal from those beans and there was still food left over. The imam told me later; ” We could serve as much as we wished, and the supply was still not exhausted.”
The name of Allah has also been reported on clouds in the sky, watermelons, tomatos, apples, eggplants, a line of trees in Germany, a Senegalese territorial waters fish, a honeycomb, and the list goes on.
What do all of these sightings of citings have in common? The shared human impulse to read meaning into shapes. We do it all the time. Every time we look in the sky, clouds remind us of caricatures; gazing at the constellations at night we imagine big dippers, lions, scorpions, reclining Greek ladies on couches and even camels. It is all a matter of perspective. But Muslim sightings are dwarfed by the reported miraculous images of Jesus (from the shroud of Turin to Mexican tortillas) and the Virgin Mary.
What does all this miracle egg hunting have to do with Islam? Nothing that does not have to do with most other interfaith monologue and skeptical demogoguery. Islamophobes look at Allah-on-the-egg images (Sunni and Shi’i side up) as further proof that Islam is a basket-case religion, adding ignorance and gullibility into the mixed curry of violence and intolerance. In so doing, those who profess to be Christian ignore the stigmata in their own beaming eyes. Atheists add such miracle-glo effluvium to their skeptic tanks, flushing away the embryonic spirituality with absurd holy bathwater at the same time.
Here’s an idea, at least in an eggshell, and I don’t think it is all that cracked. Call the divine what you will (and can): Allah, Yahweh, the Trinity ad nominem. But think about the smallness of what it means to worship a supreme being who signs his name in blurred images rather than marveling at the diversity of our shared evolved nature independent of the human limitations we place on the world. With global warming now coming to the attention of gas-guzzling governance and smoke-stack backdoor politics, in a few decades or centuries it may not matter which of the divine names is scribbled on an egg: our planet, egg-shaped or not, is about to get fried and it won’t be over easy. And that’s no yolk.
Daniel Martin Varisco
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