The Fifth Berth: Excerpt 5 from the Atheism Delusion by Ahmed Al Hasan

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Gilgamesh, the Son of Ninsun: The Mother Crying over Dumuzi

Dumuzi:

“My heart went to the edin, weeping, weeping

I am the lady of the temple, I am Inanna who destroys the lands of enemies.

I am Ninsun, the mother of the great master.

I am Geshtinanna, the sister of the sacred boy.

My heart went to the edin, weeping, weeping

It went to the place of the boy,

It went to the place of Dumuzi,

To the nether world, the home of the shepherd.

My heart went to the edin, weeping, weeping

To the place where the boy was chained

to the place where Dumuzi was held

My heart went to the edin, weeping, weeping.”

 

Gilgamesh:

Enkidu’s speech to Gilgamesh:

 

‘As one unique your mother bore you,

. . . the goddess Ninsun!

High over warriors you are exalted,

to be king of the people Enlil made it your destiny!’

 

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, we can read into the future history of mankind and not the past, as some commentators have imagined. We can also read about the story of the savior, who saves mankind from its animalism, something that, unfortunately, is always strongly present, especially in major confrontations:

 

{like that of a donkey who carries volumes [of books]. Wretched is the example of the people . . .} Quran Chapter “Friday” 62:5.

 

{like that of the dog: if you chase him, he pants, or if you leave him, he [still] pants. That is the example of the people . . . } Quran Chapter “The Heights” 7:176.

 

{And made of them apes and pigs and slaves of the tyrant. Those are worse in position . . . } Quran Chapter “The Table Spread” 5:60.

 

The Savior has been renowned across continents for thousands of years. His reputation has spread from Mesopotamia to North Africa, and we find symbolic images of him in Egyptian artifacts:

 

A rising man, with all dignity, is holding two rising oxen: one on his right, and the other on his left. This is a sight we see in many Babylonian artifacts. It usually represents Gilgamesh and his struggle with wild animals (Virolleaud 1949).

 

In the Epic, Gilgamesh is two-thirds god. We find his story—and he is the man of the second deluge—connected to the story of his Sumerian grandfather Ziusudra (Noah) and Babylonian grandfather Utnapishtim (Noah), the man of the first deluge. Perhaps the most important of Gilgamesh’s travels in the Epic is his journey to meet his grandfather Noah (Utnapishtim), who is an immortal among the gods. He asks him about the secret by which he can rid himself of his human third, and thus become immortal among the gods like his grandfather Noah pbuh. In other words, he will deservingly have his name written in the record of eternal life and will be spiritually immortal. Thus, the issue is about his spirit, as he is two-thirds god, and he wanted to make his remaining third like that as well. It has nothing to do with physical immortality, as the commentators of the Epic imagined.

 

We find that in some texts, Gilgamesh is clearly a savior and symbol of justice that everyone awaits, and everyone speaks of his story:

 

He who saw the Deep, the country’s foundation,

[who] knew . . . , was wise in all matters!

 

[He] . . . everywhere . . .  and [learnt] of everything, the sum of wisdom.

 

. . . [the young men of Uruk] he harries without warrant.

Gilgamesh lets no son go free to his father,

    by day and night [his tyranny grows] harsher.

 

‘Yet he is the shepherd of Uruk-the-Sheepfold,

    Gilgamesh, [the guide of the] teeming [people,]

Though he is shepherd and their [protector,]

    powerful, pre-eminent, expert [and mighty]

Gilgamesh lets no girl go free to her bride[groom.]

 

The warrior’s daughter, the young man’s bride. . . .  (George 2003, 4).

 

It is implausible for this passage to mean that Gilgamesh is violating people’s honor or oppressing them, as some experts of Sumerian civilization have understood. Otherwise, the Epic would be completely contradictory. At the beginning, Gilgamesh was described with the finest attributes of a just ruler. In fact, in these same lines he is described as wise, so how can a wise king oppress and violate the honor of his citizens?

Moreover, the next part of the Epic describes Gilgamesh with ideal attributes, such as altruism, bravery, and sincerity. For this reason, such lines are either deliberate distortion added to the text or they are symbolic, and thus require interpretation and explanation.

If we read the text with contemplation, we find that it is referring to the Savior who saves mankind from its animalism—the Savior of Mankind whose story exists in every nation. This is because if the nations of those who come before the time of his dispatch are not prepared to receive him, then at the very least, there will be individuals from these nations who can be saved by his story that they pass on. For he is the person that will connect them to God and will open the door of the heavens, so that whoever wants to listen can listen to great inspiration which informs him of the truth and become strongly attached to it—the truth which brought us into existence from nothingness. It is this truth that we were created to know. That is why he will occupy everyone with God and not with himself, because if he preoccupies them with himself or allows them to do so without warning them, there will be no difference between him and any oppressive tyrant who desires fame and repute.

Now, we can well understand why the young men of Uruk “he harries without warrant”, and why “Gilgamesh lets no son go free to his father . . . no girl go free to her bridegroom, the warrior’s daughter, the young man’s bride”.It is because they were all strongly attached to God Almighty. Gilgamesh the redeemer came and opened a source of great inspiration for those redeemed ones who will exist at a certain time. He taught them how to become attached to God, and how to love God and hear God in everything.

If you refer to the Sumerians, you will find that they yearned for these things.

He is Gilgamesh, which means: the frontline warrior and “the man who will be the seed of a new tree.” (Baqir 2006, 19. Arabic source, translated).

Gilgamesh, the character who is holy to the Sumerians or Akkadians (Babylonian-Assyrians) and many nations of the ancient world, is described accurately in the Epic of Gilgamesh as “two-thirds god and one-third human”. In other words, the light within his existence prevails over the dark side, or the “I”. However, in the end, he searches for the secret of ultimate salvation from this darkness. Even the name Gilgamesh states his mission, as he is the frontline warrior.

 

From the Epic:

He is the warrior who killed the demon Humbaba.

He is the warrior who offended Ishtar (the worldly life).

He is the warrior who crushed his “self”.

He is also the person who will become the seed of a new human tree that is victorious over its animalism.

No one knows the exact meaning of the name of Gilgamesh. Some Akkadian texts mentioned that it means the frontline warrior and there is a possibility that his Sumerian name means “the man who will be the seed of a new tree”, that is, “a man who will produce a family” (Baqir 2006, 19, translated).

Perhaps the worst distortion that these epics were subjected to is the false identification of epic characters out of confusion—for example, identifying them as kings whose names are mentioned in the Sumerian King List. The epic character of Gilgamesh is identified as King Gilgamesh although the names of his fathers and lineage are different. This is exactly like the case of someone who reads the epic story of al-Mahdi that Prophet Muhammad pbuhap mentioned in many religious accounts, and then says there was a king in the Abbasid state over a thousand years ago whose name was al-Mahdi, and believes that the one meant by the epic story of the Islamic Mahdi is that Abbasid king.

Unfortunately, this has happened frequently with Gilgamesh, although some experts of Sumerian artifacts have stated that it is incorrect to consider the Gilgamesh of the epic to be the same as the Gilgamesh of history, based on the similarity of the names alone.

Charles Virolleaud says:

We have reason to believe that at a very ancient time there was a king named Gilgamesh. This name is listed in the List of Kings of Uruk (recently discovered) but it is not at the top of the list (as would be expected), as the Gilgamesh of history did not found a country. Rather, he was included among a list of kings who we know nothing about historically, except their names. . . . In any case, the Gilgamesh about whom history has written two lines does not draw our attention. Rather, it is the Gilgamesh whose poetic epic has reached us (Virolleaud 1949, 39, translated).

 

The kings of Sumer, Akkad, Babylon, and even Assyria placed the Epic of Gilgamesh in their libraries and attached importance to it. They owned copies, as did the people, as if it was an incantation or a holy book. I believe that it is worth studying and researching the following question:

Did it represent the story of the person who is yet to come, and who the Sumerians, or Akkadians, and the Babylonians and Assyrians awaited as a savior and redeemer?

Taha Baqir says:

The name of the very same hero Gilgamesh carried over to most literature of the ancient nations. Or, his actions were attributed to heroes of other nations, such as Hercules, Alexander, Thul-Qarnayn, and Odysseus of the Odyssey (Baqir 2006, 16, translated).

He also says:

It is Remarkable: who is this Gilgamesh that became an example, emulated by the heroes of other nations?! (Baqir 2006, 16-17, translated).

Dr. Charles Virolleaud says:

In the olden times, the Egyptians knew of the character we are talking about because of a knife that was found in the valley of the Nile in Gebel-el-arak. Its blade was made of flint and not of metal, and its handle was made of ivory. On one side, it had the picture of a rising man who is holding two rising oxen with complete dignity, one to his right, and the other to his left. This is a sight we see in many Babylonian artifacts. It usually represents Gilgamesh and his struggle with wild animals (Virolleaud 1949, 38).

Therefore, Gilgamesh is not only a just or righteous person. He is not only a king or someone who will one day be a king. Rather, Gilgamesh is an international character and an example that the heroes of nations emulate, just as the artifacts show us. Gilgamesh being an international character is the only thing that can explain the existence of versions of the epic in countries, and even languages, that are different than the original.

Perhaps the most compelling evidence of its great influence over the minds of the people of ancient civilizations is the broad spectrum of its spread in the ancient world. With respect to the early people of Iraq, it not only circulated among the inhabitants of the southern or middle part of Iraq, which is the part known as Sumer and Akkad, but it also infused the Northern part, Assyria. Many versions of it were found in the capitals of ancient Iraq, during the era of prosperity of the Babylonian civilization in the ancient Babylonian era (second millennium BC.). As for Assyria, the last complete publication to reach us was found in the famous Library of Ashurbanipal, the Assyrian king. With respect to the centers of the ancient civilizations, we have already pointed out that some researchers found many versions of its parts in distant regions, such as Anatolia, the home of the Hittite civilization. Some of these texts were written in the ancient Babylonian language, and likewise, translations into Hittite and Hurrian languages were also found. Recently, there was an exciting discovery of another version of certain chapters in Megiddo, one of the ancient cities of Palestine that is well known in the Torah. This small version dates back to the fourteenth century BC (Baqir 2006, 13-14. Arabic source, translated).

This is how the epic story describes Gilgamesh in the beginning. It summarizes everything about Gilgamesh in a few lines, and is an introduction to the character of Gilgamesh and his mission:

 

Tablet I

He who saw the Deep, the country’s foundation,

[who] knew . . . , was wise in all matters!

[Gilgamesh, who] saw the Deep, the country’s foundation,

[who] knew . . . , was wise in all matters!

 

[He] . . . everywhere. . . 

and [learnt] of everything, the sum of wisdom.

He saw what was secret, discovered what was hidden,

he brought back a tale before the Deluge.

He came a far road, was weary, found peace,

and set all his labours on a tablet of stone (George 2003, 1).

It is clear that the text is describing a knowledgeable person (who saw … wise in all matters . . . [learnt] of everything, the sum of wisdom . . . he saw what was secret, discovered what was hidden …) and an important teacher who comes with important knowledge. He will engrave it so that it remains among the people (and set all of his labours on a tablet of stone).

If we refer to the religious text about al-Mahdi, we find Imam al-Sadiq pbuh saying:

Knowledge is twenty-seven letters. The prophets only brought two letters. To date, people know only these two letters. When our Riser rises, he brings out the twenty-five letters and transmits them among the people. He adds the two letters to them, thus transmitting them as twenty-seven letters (Al-Majlisi vol 52, 336. Arabic source, translated).