|With the Name Allah, the Gracious, the Compassionate|
by Hakeem Muhammad (Lester Knibbs)
|It is the end of the World
The invaders are victorious. The mighty army of Kanem-Bornu, combined with its allies and many great heroes and surviving veterans of the great wars to the west – this mighty and determined army has been crushed.
The Ruling Council must be warned, and fast. Despite his wounds, the Warrior manages to mount his charger, shake the reins and mutter, “Home! Home!” The sleek, jet black war-horse understands and bursts forward, swift as lightning. Strong and brave, the animal carries its wounded, half-conscious burden toward the appointed destination.
Forward, across hot sands under the blazing sun. Forward, over rocky heights and through narrow passes. Forward, through brushlands and across grassy vales. The loyal war-horse carries its burden at maximum speed.
The sun sets, and onward rushes the horse. Rain falls, but even thunder and lightning do not deter this charger from its forward progress.
Finally, in the distance, the charger sees its goal.
In the dim light of early dawn, the mu’adhdhin is finishing the adhaan. “Allaahu akbar. Allaahu akbar. Laa ilaaha illal-Laah.” On the distant eastern horizon, the tiny figure of a horse and its rider appears. “It’s Fadlallaah!” someone cries out. “I know his horse.”
Immediately, the men go for their armor. These are the ones too old, too young, wounded or sick, who could not go to the distant battle. They know that Fadlallaah would not leave the scene of battle, even if his life depended on it, unless the whole country was in immediate danger. These men will perform the dawn salaah in full armor.
The horse and its rider finally reach the city. Women, humming and chanting prayers for mercy, come to remove the Warrior from his mount. Battered and bruised, everywhere clotted with blood – his helmet and his armor, his face, arms, hands, even his legs and feet – yet he is conscious. “Must tell them. Must tell them.” But everyone already knows.
The members of the Ruling Council had come out for the dawn salaah. Seeing Fadlallaah, they mumble among themselves: “All is lost. The invaders cannot be stopped. It is the End of the World.”
After salaah, they will decide what must be done.
Suddenly, a shrill cry pierces the air. The powerful horse, its mission complete, rears up, paws the air in futile agony, and collapses to the ground.
The charger dead.
|… “charger” – Track 12|
19 Tone Poems for Piano Solo
Lester Knibbs (Hakeem Muhammad)
Hakeem Muhammad (Lester Knibbs). Born in Brooklyn 1945.
Grew up in Harlem and the Bronx.
Graduate of Music & Art High School. B.A. and Ph.D., Harvard University.
(Admitted to graduate seminar in composition at age 16.)
Taught at Antioch College (Ohio), Howard University and
Fayetteville State University (North Carolina).
Has performed “new improvised music” in
New York, San Francisco, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands.
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