BLANK CANVASSES| Thoughts of An Ahjumma

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Another entry. I’m supposed to be doing some other stuff, but after reading an article that explains the person’s hatred that he/she says is not “racist”, but could might as well pass off as extremely prejudiced and arrogant, if not supremacist- I could not help but collect my upset thoughts. This is a product of that collection (laugh).

O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you.” (49:13)

Several years ago, as someone who was searching for her identity… as someone who yearning to find a community she belongs to, reading that verse for the first time struck a strong chord in me.

American, European, Arab, Indian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Filipino- no matter what race one may belong to…beyond the social constructs and divisions we so normally have accepted, we are all human beings.

Our identities as a people, our history may define the “us”, now. But by connecting with others THAT is how we truly grow. When we start to look beyond the constraints of “culture” to define what is right and wrong against another human being, then we can grow.

Think of it like this, when we are born-regardless where we come from-we are like blank canvasses. Through time as we learn, we discover then change. Each experience is like a brushstroke that slowly forms a picture that tells a unique story.

Each day of our lives is like a fresh page in an initially, blank, story book- the material that serves like a brochure to the image painted on to the canvass once completed.

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If we were meant to be restricted to the borders of our “nations”/”cultures” then wouldn’t we NOT come as blank canvasses?

But we did, and no baby is born with a “culture” infused into his/her ways. We are born all equally…as human beings with probably the only significant distinction would be the defining purpose in the life we’ve been given. A purpose that only we could have completed in the way we have allowed or chosen to be.

I’m not saying to throw away the many achievements and grievances that each people has faced. No, definitely not. We have disregarded so much of each other’s history that we fail at the many challenges we face now, simply because we haven’t learnt the real lessons each point in history should have taught us.

What I’m saying is, instead of seeing our identities as something that sets each of us apart, shouldn’t we start to look at our unique identities as the strings that could bring us together?

We have so many romantics that say that differences between two lovers who share a genuine, beautiful relationship aren’t actually hindrances. Instead, those differences complement each other, help each other grow.

Perhaps we should adapt that way of thinking…see our differences as something that could complement each other. See our differences as something that could teach each other things we didn’t know, we didn’t know. (Yes, I just made a Disney reference.)

Perhaps we ca liken ourselves to canvasses, that are actually part of bigger canvas? Or like a volume within a series of books that complete one huge story?

Right now, as connected our communities seem to be with technology, we are still at a point of critical disconnection from each other…

However ours is a time, a chapter, a page defined by the past, and that which will define our future.

If we remain at this state of disconnection…

What kind of picture are we each contributing to?

What kind of story are we writing ourselves in?

Song Speak: Home by Raef |Eid Wishes for Everyone

Here’s a beautiful inspirational song from brother Raef!!

May we all be united in that Eternal Home, the end of this trialsome yet can-be-beautiful Journey called, “Life”.

“I’ve been through sunshine
Made friends with the moonlight
Traveled the ancient lands
And sailed across the seas
I’m free when I think and fight for what’s right
Ain’t nobody gonna tread on me
A place I’d call mine and yours forever
This land was made for you and me, yeah!

Ain’t no place like home, they say
Home is where that heart is, home is where your love is
Ain’t no place like home where I’ll be me, me, me, yeah!
Ain’t no place like home, they say
Home is where that heart is, home is where your love is
Ain’t no place like home where I’ll be free, free, free, yeah!

All I know is: Love can feel so good
When we know it brings us close to
Home-sweet-home where
Your mind can set you free… Yeah!”

-Growing Tree

If only…

When we finally realize that the evil that wreck our countries, our cities, our towns and our homes….

have nothing to do with race, gender, age, skin color, height, weight, culture nor faith…

Then we could finally find ways to defeat this evil and heal each others wounds.

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)!

THE HUNDRED-WORD EULOGY

By The Hongwu Emperor 

or Zhu Yuanzhang (朱元璋)

 

Chinese

至聖百字讃

乾坤初始

天籍注名

傳教大聖

降生西域

授受天經

三十部册

普化衆生

億兆君師

萬聖領袖

協助天運

保庇國民

五時祈祐

默祝太平

存心真主

加志窮民

拯救患難

洞徶幽冥

超拔靈魂

脱離罪業

仁覆天下

道冠古今

降邪歸一

教名清真

穆罕默德

至聖貴人

穆罕默德

清真北寺

English

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,
Muhammad,
The Noble High One.

Analysis:

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?

Humanity Being Humanity At It’s Best

Humanity Being Humanity At It's Best

Throughout history, we realize two things. That strife can bring out the best out of us- heroes arise, values and morals are fought for more than ever, and unity against evil makes our differences irrelevant. Or it can bring out the worst of us.

May this picture inspire whoever who sees this to be the best and bravest they can be, full of Faith (in the One) and Hope…no matter what darkness they may be plunged into.