I’ve blogged before about the coincidence of eagles’ appearing on both the flag of Egypt and the flag of Mexico. Since today’s Cinco de Mayo, my memory has been jogged about another similarity between Mexico and the Arab world.
There are various versions of the story of the founding of Mexico here, here, and here. The first two include pretty pictures and the third one is Wikipedia. The short version is: the early Mexicans were trying to fulfill a prophecy that their city would be founded on the site where they saw an eagle perched on a branch, holding a serpent. But when they finally saw the eagle with the serpent, it was on a swampy island in the middle of a lake! Not a great place to try to establish a city, but a prophecy is a prophecy and so that’s what they did. And it was a great success. It was called Tenochtitlán and it grew to be one of the world’s largest cities. (That last link there leads to a really interesting page).
The Arab story is from the life of Muhammad. Muhammad lived in Mecca as a young man, right in the vicinity of the Ka’bah. The locals wanted to rebuild and refurbish the stone edifice around the black stone, but weren’t sure whether the circumstances were auspicious or not. At this time a great, big serpent started hanging around the Ka’bah, which convinced the local Meccans that it was probably not a good time for the improvement project. But then an eagle came along and snatched up the serpent and flew off with it, and the locals took that as a sign that they should go ahead.