Our History Defines Us!
On Sunday, 02 August 2020, I did not go cycling with TEAM ROSHNEE because of fatigue therefore, I used the time to watch a documentary. The documentary was on the MING Dynasty with a strong focus on the Great Wall of China. I was spellbound and made so many mental notes that it kept me in deep thought. The thoughts were intriguing and it jostled my mind into a frenzy of questions which I had no concrete answers too. My answers I hope would come through writing this piece. It is not historical in its aim but, more to draw lessons from this historical marvel.
Lets begin with the end in mind as we learn from Jim Collins’ Good to Great because its the last action of man or a nation that will define his or their mark on the world. The end of the Great wall is in Jiayuguan Fort which for me is the real fort of Troy. Preserved with museum care, it stands in splendour of an era gone by reverberating a history you cannot ignore.
The Great wall of China spans 21 196 km and it ends in a majestic fort which in essence shows that the Ming Dynasty finished what they started. If you were to start your journey to inland China from Jiayuguan Fort without the knowledge it’s the last point, you will walk into main land China thinking that’s the end. You would be astounded by the magnificence of the capital at the time. Two points define you – How you start what you start and how you finish what you started.
The wall started as a means for defence and that was the driving force yet, when you read more about history of the great wall you are enthralled because it’s more than that. Prior to the Ming Dynasty and even before Genghis Khan, the ‘Qin Dynasty emerged as one of the dominant powers of the Seven Warring States and unified the seven states of China in 221 BC under Qin Shi Huang.‘ The Qin Dynasty is known for the Terracotta Army which today, looks an impossible feat of sculpture and can well be equated to the Giza Pyramids which Elon Musk says it was built by aliens, that entombed the Pharaohs. The Terracotta Army stands as a reminder that there was a king that was so revered that his ‘army’ still stand watch over his tomb. Each sculptured soldier is unique and the few that were restored and painted in the glamour of the army regalia resembles the full panoply the Qin’s military might. Each of the seven dynasties built their own defence walls and it fell into disrepair after conquest or assimilation. It was the in the Ming Dynasty that the Great Wall was built to the grandeur we see today keeping in mind that the walls that were built previously were architectural ingenuities, massive, colossal, high and intimidating structures too.
The striking thing in the documentary was the allusion to the vast trade network that these walls protected. The passage of time and the inventiveness in the Ming Dynasty established the intention to develop the Dynasty into a thalassocracy which did not materialise. The advent of Islam had an impact on China in later years and it is amazing how, the culture of the Chinese still remain. The demand the Great Wall today makes on historians the world over is the call to study it, excavate for archeological reasons and to learn about its people.
The researchers from USA and Canada that worked with the skilled researchers of China reflects a remarkable feat of intelligence gathering. The long journeys, drone technologies, 4-D graphics, advanced computer aided draftsmanship and design, carbon dating, projection analysis, DNA sampling and so much more to recreate a world that existed before for us to ponder on today. In all of this I wonder if you know of Zheng He? He was China’s greatest explorer and was Muslim and known as Maahi. His legacy is within the heart of China and its greatly beneficial to know. The Great Wall was a colossal expense to the Chinese empire therefore, the voyages of discovery of Maahi and the building of ships had to stop. The building of the wall was seen as most beneficial.
This short video will give you all the details of Maahi. “Zhu Zhanji did allow Admiral Zheng He his Swanson – one final voyage to Mecca – but with Zhu Zhanji’s death in 1435, complete xenophobia set in…” Gavin Menzies, 1421. page 83.
“To plead for one’s life under repressive laws is like being a tethered fish in a pot, it is hard to stay alive”
Zhu Yuanzhang – founder of the Ming Dynasty.
Beneficial knowledge spurs you on to action. The action is the painstaking archeological excavations and the data analysis which leads to publications on all forms of media. The evidence is kept in museums and research laboratories for reference and study. All well and good. I looked at the marvel of the Great Wall of China and its history with a sense of envy. Envy because as Muslims we are not taking the painstaking effort and researching our history and making serious inroads globally. The Muslim world was a glorious time yet, all we hear and see is the history of the people that interacted with us.
There was great interaction between the Chinese and the Muslims. The trade routes including the great Silk Road was the main artery for this interaction but, it was Nabi Muhammad (s) who sent his companions far and wide to spread Islam. The Huaisheng Mosque said to be built in ad 627 by Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas. That makes it more than 1300 years ago. The history of this is recorded in old Muslim Chinese scripts and it is relatively unknown to millions of Muslims. The point made is that the information and relics are there, all we need is to begin the task of making it real.
Making it real will relish our faith and belief because, the Muslim history is alive with the people that live it daily. We have not preserved all that we should for all reasons good or bad, I cannot argue. For instance, the home of Nabi Muhammad (s) could have been preserved like many other of relics and it would be a clear indication of his (s) life in how we follow it. The task of research will also open doors of learning for Muslims across the world and like the International Space Station that has the worlds scientists, engineers and technologists amongst so many others working together to give the world glimpses of the galaxy, the Muslims too, if we work together can open the vistas of the known universe again to the world.
I am really spellbound to think what lies in the lands of the world that hold information of the Muslim world. My visit to Egypt was enchanted by the long stay in the museums and the pyramids enriching my knowledge of a bygone era of superlative greatness and felt there should be a museum on the history of Islam in Egypt. There are such museums but, it has to match the standards we see and the research we read and study currently.
Today schools are teaching every other history of past civilisations with vigour, greatness and fortitude but, the Muslim history is pushed back and we have to take our space too because there are mountain ranges of archeological relics that speak to the essence of Islam’s survival to this day. Genghis Khan’s kingdom outshines any kingdom to this day. It was 4,000,000 km2 and there are no great buildings of his grandiose empire only his legacy. Therefore, there is speculation of his true burial site and this curiosity is spurring on more research. The Muslim world has much more to offer also on the history of great civilisations because it lies in the very same practice we are living except that we are different people living it. China is standing tall on it’s history and cultural past and therefore, it is not a pushover in the fight to establish the next world order, so too is Islam.
That is the answer I was looking for. The answer that no matter how much of digging continues to unearth Islam from the world, the more it will reveal itself. The more it will continue to reveal a history that also predates the Great Wall of China. The modern world has changed its focus of undermining China with trade wars and China too, seeks its dominance with a vast array of technological and political wisdom employed to make nations subservient to them is no secret but, the onslaught to destroy the great of wall of Islam, brick by brick is the biggest phishing scam in history.
I was mesmerised by the history of NIKE the same morning when I saw this advert:
The latest NIKE advert caught the world’s attention but, it’s placing of Islam perplexed me.
Like the Great Wall of China, the advert looked so majestic and appealing in its make up that I missed the subliminal message at first until, I looked again. The Ming Dynasty built the wall on the blood, sweat and lives of thousands of people and the horrors will never be known because the victor always writes the script. In the advert, like bricks that make up the wall, we lose sight of each message because of how each segment is made up with juxtaposition of black and white people. Then suddenly, the Muslim woman on a skateboard is slipped in and streamed by the LGBTQ flag with the unique slogan, “And if we don’t fit the sport, we’ll change the sport.” instilling in me the equating of Islam to a sport. Very clever and absolutely stunning in manifesting the scenario that Islam, given the right ‘push’, will promote the LBGTQ movement. Why a symbolism of Islam used so skilfully? Why not an icon of any other religion? It does not beat me. All it does, is synchronise us into a thinking that there is a ‘clash of civilisations’. I am amazed that this is how the Great Wall of Freedom of Expression seeks to defile the independence of Islam with such remarkable deception. Really.
My answers then to the Great Wall of China were answered in what I have written. The Great Wall stands but, the present is not the past. The legends of the past protected and sought refuge in the glory of King, religion and culture in the main. Today, we seek to build greater walls of divisions making the mind, heart and soul the target. In the face of it all, the human race looks majestic like the Great Wall of China, but the underbelly is a crying shame.
My crying shame is that my intrigue of the Great Wall was the stimulus to get me to realise the following as answers:
- A nation will not be destroyed from outside. It will be destroyed from within.
- If the belief system is adulterated and systematically broken down, the easier it is to conquer hearts and minds for eventual assimilation and consequent loss of identity.
- When core beliefs cannot aid you in discerning good from bad, you always become a victim to the next fad.
- Islam will remain the target because we lack the wholesome practice to show the world who we are by our actions. Maahi did that in the recent past and he came from those who built the Great Wall.
After two days of writing, editing, reading and using time to think it dawned upon me that I must live to change one heart at a time. This is in my control and I hope that you, the reader will look beyond the apparent and reflect. Reflect so deeply that it makes you talk, write or pray for injustices to stop even when they are presented to you in the likes of clothes meant to cover but; only to reveal your foolishness. In the end know that the marvel of the Great Wall cannot out marvel you because you were created in the best of forms. The marvel of being human. The greater marvel is being a human that uses his/her brain.
Every Muslim is the recipient, guardian, and executor of God’s will on earth; his responsibilities are all encompassing. A Muslim’s duty to act in defense of what is right is as much part of his faith as is his duty to oppose wrong. The Prophet once said, “If someone among you sees wrong he must right it by his hand if he can (deed, conduct, action). If he cannot, then by his tongue (speak up, verbally oppose); if he cannot, then by his gaze (silent expression of disapproval); and if he cannot, then in his heart. The last is the minimum expression of his conviction (faith, courage).”
M. Cherif Bassiouni
Like the Jiayuguan Fort, the end of the Great Wall of China, if you are the last Muslim a person meets, it must be like he met the first of all of them. Never live a life where you have to plead under repressive laws. You will be like a tethered fish in a pot. Survival will be hard. Be your own the fortress and your own great wall and save humanity, one heart at a time.