The Nile River, Sahara Desert and Islam

The Nile River has always been the backbone of Egypt. The mighty river flows for some 4,000 miles from the mountains of Equatorial Africa and Lake Victoria before it empties into the Mediterranean Sea. Without the Nile River and its annual inundation Ancient Egypt would never have come into being. Its fertile valley was renewed every year with rich silt deposits laid down during the flooding. As the agriculture of Egypt revolved around the Nile, so did the social life of the ancient Egyptians.

During inundation when there was less to do, people had more time for recreational activities, they played games, held sporting tournaments and regularly feasted. When the River Nile receded the appearance of the land had radically changed and there was a great rush to restore boundaries. There were many disputes as markers had moved, banks had collapsed, and distinguishable features had disappeared. The river was also the chief means of transport. It was their highway, making unnecessary roads, except between close villages. Virtually everything moved by boat.

The Nile, for the most part, is a gently flowing river and in the time of the ancients, was crammed with fish. It’s easy flow made fishing very popular. Everyone enjoyed fishing, from the young to old, peasant to noble. The Egyptians believed that the Nile was the centre of the world. And the place from which it originated was, ‘the beginning of the world’. In Lower Egypt, in the area of the Nile Delta, the river splits into two great arms. The area between the two was densely populated from the earliest times. Many of the major religious group centers developed in this region.

Even the soul of a deceased had to cross the Nile before he could enter the kingdom of the dead. The Sahara desert covers around 9,000,000 square kilometers and the overall area is as large as the continental United States. The Sahara desert also has the reputation of being the world’s largest hot desert. The landforms in this desert often undergo constant change. These landforms are shaped as per the direction of the wind and the occasional rainfalls. Although being a desert area, one can notice annual rainfall in many regions of this vast land area.

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There are different climates witnessed in different regions such as the subtropical climate in the northern land where as a tropical climate in the southern area. Over the years, the climate of the Sahara desert has undergone humungous changes. This desert therefore, is known for its harsh climates so typical of all deserts. This hot desert has annual temperatures that can exceed 30 degrees C. Some of the hottest months have temperatures exceeding 50 degrees C. In the winters, the temperatures drop below freezing points. This it explains the diverse climates of this hot desert. Studies have revealed the changing size of the Sahara desert!

Observations made with the help of satellite photographs have proven this desert can shrink or even grow in size. The Sahara desert is home to quite a few species of animals. Camels and goats are the only ones amongst the domesticated animals one may see out here. Apart from these, the Saharan cheetah, the sand vipers, scorpions and monitor lizards can be found out here. This desert has some of the tallest sand dunes and these can reach 189 meters in height. The land area also has stone plateaus, large gravel plains, dry valleys and even sand flats. The Sahara desert has around 500 species of flora.

These consist of mainly ephemeral plants known locally as Acheb. At some oases, close to the Nile Valley, one can find olive trees growing out here. Vegetation is found in areas where the ground water reaches the surface of the land. This place has mainly nomadic groups of people that move from place to place. Nomads wear a particular headdress known as Howli. These people are mainly engaged in trading and hunting. The low population is due to the rather difficult conditions seen in the Sahara desert. The Sahara desert stretches over areas of Northern Africa, from the Red Sea to the areas close to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean.

This desert shares it boundaries with the Atlas Mountains, the Mediterranean Sea, Egypt, Sudan and valley of the Niger River. Islam is a religion that has existed for millions of years. The followers believed that there is one God and Muhammad is his messenger. Muhammad was deeply troubled by the idols worship of Arabs and the moral ills of society. When he was about 40, he was meditating and heard a voice. According to Muslim the belief the voice was that of the angel Gabriel it said, “Proclaim. ” When Muhammad asked what should I proclaim the voice responded with proclaim in the name of God.

Muhammad was a young man born in Mecca about the year 570. Orphaned at an early age, Muhammad was cared for by his uncle. In his youth he worked as a shepherd among the Bedouins. Later he led caravans across the desert for merchants. When he was 25, Muhammad married Khadija. It was at age 40 when he had his first vision. Islam has a book similar to that of the Holy Bible. It is called the Quran. To Muslims, the Quran contains the sacred text as spoken to Muhammad from god. The Quran not only teaches about God, but about how to lead a good, faithful, life. It sets harsh penalties for stealing or murdering.

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