Here are two thought-provoking incidents for us to ponder upon. The first is about the great man and exemplary leader Chairman Mao Tse Tung of China. His epoch-making struggle for the liberation of China and his efforts to turn it into a strong, developed country within one generation (25 years) is a commendable success story.
After a bloody war of more than 20 years and the sacrifices made by millions of people, he achieved his goal – an independent China – in 1949. Before that, China had been a highly exploited and impoverished country in total disarray, with a population of more than 400 million people. He tackled three most important tasks – the country’s defence, food for the population and provision of health and education facilities.
The Chinese, in general, are very hard working and patriotic. Rather than bickering and slandering each other, they all joined hands to build the country for their common good. For all their efforts and sacrifices, they are now the second largest global economic power.
Immediately after the liberation, Chairman Mao set up a taskforce to come up with proposals for providing medical care to the people. What the taskforce proposed was to cost millions of dollars – money Mao did not have. He then asked them to determine the single most common factor in many diseases. The answer was waterborne diseases. He then advised all the Chinese to drink only boiled water. Within days, all offices, factories and public places were supplying large thermos flasks of hot water, a tin of green tea leaves and cheap ceramic mugs with lids. People would simply put three or four leaves of green tea in their mugs, pour hot water and drink it in small sips throughout the day. The fall in the statistics of diseases was astonishing.
Another health challenge he picked up was the fight against cancer. Mao himself had cancer. He mobilised the National Institute of Health, Oxford University, Cornell University and cancer research centres throughout China, to determine the causes of cancer. It took them 25 years to come up with a comprehensive report, which was published as a Chinese study and instantly became the most sought-after research.
The study had first identified areas where people lived long, healthy lives (Pakistan’s Hunza region was identified). They then searched for areas where people were sickly due to all kinds of diseases (Pima Indians in the US). They then interchanged the food the Pima Indians consumed with that of the Hunza people. Natural, organic food proved to be the miraculous ingredient. Former US president Clinton, suffering from heart and lung problems, was put on this diet and recuperated well within months. He saw to it that this knowledge was spread to all schools, colleges and universities.
In Surah Abas, in which the Almighty discusses rainfall, growth of all grains, fruits, vegetables and fodder for animals etc, it is emphasised that we should eat grains, olives, fresh vegetables and fresh and dried fruits. Following up on these instructions has helped people live healthier lives.
The second thought-provoking matter is the destruction and massacre of the Syrians. Syria has been dear to us for its importance in Islamic history. Syria’s history is full of valour and victories during the crusades. It has the honour of being home to the graves of several revered religious figures. After marrying Hazrat Khadija (RA), our Holy Prophet (pbuh) used to take trade caravans to Syria. It was from Damascus that Malik al-Zaheer Baybars (a former Turkish slave), inflicted a crushing defeat (the first ever) on the Mongols at Ain Jalut, what is now Jordan.
When the Mongols tried to enter from eastern Turkey (Van), Baybars crushed them, a defeat from which they never recovered. The importance of Syria is apparent from the many sayings of our Holy Prophet (pbuh). Mentioning events which were to happen before the Day of Judgement, The Holy Prophet (pbuh) said that: i) the Arabs would engage in worldly competitions between themselves, build tall buildings (while they had previously been bare-foot shepherds grazing camels and sheep); ii) before the Day of Resurrection, the Arab world will be in great turmoil and devastation; iii) heavy rains would fall in Arab countries; iv) the fate of the ummah is tied to the fate of Syria and the Syrians. If Syria is destroyed, the ummah will be in real trouble.
The greatest mischief is that the US and some European countries, sitting thousands of kilometres away, are instigating the destruction and massacre of hundreds of thousands of innocent Syrians. Even worse is the attitude of some Arab countries who are collaborating with them to destroy Syria (and Iran), totally forgetting that similar policies led to the downfall of the Moorish, Abbasid, Khwarzimi, Mughal and Turkish dynasties.
Postscript: I am grateful to Ms Hina Khan Palwasha for pointing out that there were some mistakes in the numbers of the Surahs and Ayats in last week’s column. Surah Al-Anbya 31:30 should be 21:30 and 5:63 (Surah Al-Maida) should be 5:60 (63 is wrongly given in the translation of Abdulla Yousuf Ali).