Literary Analysis 1: The Hundred Word Eulogy by Hongwu Emperor|T.O.A

A/N: Aye! Pretty busy, but World Literature gives me time to write! Our take-home exam was to make (beginner’s level, people) a critical analysis on 3 chinese literature of our choice. ‘Twas, alas, my first time to do an “analysis” based on literary theories that we were taught 😀 Enjoy (hopefully)!


By The Hongwu Emperor 

or Zhu Yuanzhang (朱元璋)
































Since the creation of the universe
God had already appointed his great faith-preaching man,
From the West he was born,
And received the holy scripture
And book made of 30 parts
To guide all creations,
Master of all rulers,
Leader of the holy ones,
With support from the Heavens,
To protect his nation,
With five daily prayers,
Silently hoping for peace,
His heart directed towards God,
Giving power to the poor,
Saving them from calamity,
Seeing through the Unseen,
Pulling the souls and the spirits away from all wrongdoings,
Mercy to the world,
Transversing to the ancient,
Majestic path vanquished away all evil,
His religion Pure and True,
The Noble High One.


The most fitting approach to the analysis of this largely unknown yet relatively controversial literary is to examine it from the historical background wherein the author writes and from there, aim to deduce what he meant to express through the eulogy.

From Arabia to China, the fact that the Emperor (and said founder) of the Ming Dynasty would ever write about an Arab man, is astonishing at the outset. And even more striking would be the type of literature written- a eulogy, one of high praise, – which was dedicated to a man whose “culture” would be prejudged as the stark opposite of the author’s!

But after close inspection of what is again, largely unknown facts, the existence of such piece of literature isn’t all that surprising. Before the advent of the Hongwu Emperor’s reign, his life-story would explain the certain affinity communicated in between the lines of the eulogy. Zhu had been a member of a local rebel army that sought (and succeeded) to overthrow the preceding Yuan dynasty. Time and history can tell that years in struggle with “brothers in arms” forms unique bonds between men and transforms the beliefs and ideals of those involved. The Red Turbans, the rebel army to whom Zhu held position, was fusion of people holding different beliefs (from Confucianism down to Zoroastrianism, and most probably, Islam).

Surprising, indeed! Thinking of Chinese culture, one would be prejudiced that the only spiritual influence running through its people would be that of Buddha, Confucius or Lao Tzu. But the complete venture into the country’s history reveals a culture that was steadily enriched through years of influx of different beliefs and ideologies, inxcluding that of Judaism and Catholicism. The surprise is lessened if we remember a much more familiar historical fact, – the Silk Road, – that connected the East and West.

Combining these data together with the literature in focus what then, can we deduce? The complete answer might require a lengthier presentation than this.

From a superficial analysis, The Hundred Word Eulogy may attest to a more open and multicultural-embracing China, which could be evident during the Hongwu Emperor’s reign.

The eulogy could also be interpreted via the historical accounts of the Hongwu Emperor’s earlier life up until his experience with the Red Turban army. Perhaps there lies the beginning of the connection that the Zhu found with the “Arab desert man”*. And basing on what is quoted through history, it was a strong affinity that is most evidently and popularly expressed in the eulogy.

What is certain is that the outlook that the Hongwu Emperor held towards a historical figure is an absolute contradiction to what is commonly branded upon Muhammad nowadays-a barbarian, paedophile and tyrant. It makes one wonder: are we, of the current era, reading our history right? Or are we missing a huge piece of a puzzle?


2 thoughts on “Literary Analysis 1: The Hundred Word Eulogy by Hongwu Emperor|T.O.A

  1. Muhammad was never a tyrant nor a paedophile or a barbarian. İt seems that the outlook that Hongwu held towards Muhammad was more realistic than yours. At the end of your article you questioned a lack of information concerning on history. I agree with you, but please don’t dim facts which are prooved by history itself…

    • First of all, thank you for your thoughts.

      “what is commonly branded upon Muhammad nowadays-a barbarian, pedophile and tyrant…”

      These are my words. If you read the entire paragraph itself and yes, the whole article, the point your making is also the point I was driving at.

      Yes, Muhammad was never a tyrant or any of what is more commonly (please note my words: commonly) perpetrated by a lot of history books even if this is indeed FALSE. Let the mainstream media be a proof.

      The whole point of this article is to HIGHLIGHT rather than dim,- the many connections each culture and people have with each other. That our peoples coexisted despite the differences, and Islam and Muslims were NOT stereotyped as the enemy- even by political forces. The outlook back then compared to today is a complete contrast, if not a CONTRADICTION (aka the opposite). Take what the government in China has been doing to it’s Muslim minorities as example. Compare that to that of the Hongwu Emperor.

      Why? Because Islam and Muslims, with the Prophet Muhammad as the lead figure, are ill portrayed. Ask a random person on the street what they do know about Islam, and most are either misinformed or don’t know anything.


      Because many choose to just listen to what they are fed, rather than think independently. I did not want to impose. I wanted to help awaken the instinct for THOUGHT.

      And by presenting this eulogy from years ago, side by side by the common misconception about Islam and Muslim and the state of world affairs, I hoped to provoke thought to let people search for the truth THEMSELVES.

      Because truth, no matter what will be plain, even if lies are much more noisier. If only we could just silence the noise, and listen. Think. Understand.

      Like I said, “The complete answer might require a lengthier presentation than this.” The complete presentation of the truth, is not here. But it could be the start.

      I was also, writing this based on curricular requirements: “our take-home exam was to make (beginner’s level, people) a critical analysis on 3 chinese literature of our choice. ‘Twas, alas, my first time to do an “analysis” based on literary theories that we were taught”. I was studying at a Catholic university, within a society very prejudiced against Islam and Muslims. And by that, I hope my intentions and why I chose to write this piece in the way it is, is finally clear.

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