Monday, 31 December 2012

Da Vinci, Michaelangelo and Pablo Picasso

I watched the Da Vinci Conspiracy on ASTRO History Channel on TV earlier tonight. I read quite a bit about Da Vinci when I was a teenager in secondary school. I was interested in his mechanical drawings. I was not interested in his Mona Lisa painting at all - it didn't attract me as it did many art historians in the past and today. Da Vinci also drew a lot of human musculoskeletal diagrams - these were useful for me as a student.

Later I came to know about Michaelangelo and Pablo Picasso. Michaelangelo's paintings were mentioned to me by my elder sister, Sharifah. She read and knew more about him than I did. It was sufficient for me to know that Michaelangelo painted life-like human figures that occupied ceilings and high walls.

Pablo Picasso to me was someone linked to abstract painting. As a teenager, I tried to understand his paintings but failed to. I couldn't connect with his paintings. Even as a young adult, I could not understand his paintings.

Coming back to Da Vinci, his 2-year hiatus from 1476 to 1478, seems to me he went to learn something else apart from painting. I think he went to learn religion and returned with more paintings of divine scenes, including Virgin Mary, before and after she had her child. Art historians and curators say Da Vinci was the greatest man with the greatest impact on man. I don't think so this is true. The man with the greatest impact on human civilisation is still Prophet Muhammad SAW. No man can ever surpass him, not even Da Vinci or any of the European painters.

Da Vinci drew mechanical drawings of machines. Prophet Muhammad SAW taught the Quran and the Sunah. Of the two, machines are the basis of today's development. How humans should live and abide by rules that let man live in peace were taught by Islam, the divine religion taught by Prophet Muhammad SAW. What art historians and curators failed to say and point out clearly is that Da Vinci showed the technicalities of inventions used in today's war machines. The same with Alfred Nobel with gunpowder and explosives. These men provided knowledge of destructive war machines. On the contrary, Prophet Muhammad SAW taught just the reverse - how to live in peace, and without material greed, hardly destructive war weapons.

Every time the TV airs a program of some invention by the West, it is inevitably connected to exploration and war. The message I get is aggression of the West through inventions of sophisticated war weapons. I think it is high time that the West opens its eyes and learns to look at how to live in peace. Technological advances are great but we don't need war anywhere on this globe, not when innocent women and children are killed, and homes, schools and buildings are destroyed indiscriminately. Nobody should die and nothing should be destroyed. That's my message, human to human. I'm not talking to heartless machines or wired robots. I'm talking real.

I don't think we should use technology to invent objects for destructive purposes. I think it is better to use technology for useful purposes. Man versus machine, which should we support? I think we should support all efforts and inventions that teach us how to live peacefully. Da Vinci maybe creative and intelligent by standards of the West, but nobody has said that he learned or improved on methods already present in the books of the Golden Era of Islam. Where are those books today? Medieval Europe lived in the Dark Ages. Renaissance (French for rebirth) occurred in Europe with people like Da Vinci learning from other scholars and then extending that knowledge to Europe. Did Da Vinci learn from the great Muslim scholars? Did he operate corpses alone or with an aid who knew where to make incisions and what to excise? Did he go to learn from the Muslim surgeons and then decide to do his own surgical explorations? Wasn't he just reproducing the drawings of the Muslim scholars before him? The theory that claims Da Vinci had a divine visitation from "bright lights" of extra-terrestrial beings in spaceships - I think I would like to trash that. Let's just accept that Da Vinci disappeared and went to learn from the Muslim surgeons and engineers for 2 years and returned rejuvenated or enlightened with the knowledge that the Muslim surgeons and engineers taught him. Then he started researching whatever he had learned. That's Renaissance.