making and breaking of history

The making and breaking of history

This goes to show that it is not man who fashions his own history; in truth, it is God who fashions human history in accordance with His own will.
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According to B. Tuchman, “history is the unfolding of miscalculation.” In other words, history usually develops in a manner quite contrary to people’s expectations. While events are unfolding, observers may pass judgement on the course they are taking, but the course of history defies all prediction, and in the end, things turn out quite differently from what people had initially expected.

To take an example from Islamic history, in the year 6 AH, the Treaty of Hudaybiyah was signed between Prophet Muhammad and the Quraysh of Mecca. At that time the Quraysh were one in thinking that the Muslims had signed their own writ of destruction, for they accepted peace on the terms which were clearly favourable to the Quraysh. Yet, afterwards, it transpired that this apparent defeat contained the seeds of a great victory for the Muslims.

The same thing has happened time and again throughout history. In 1945, when atom bombs were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, it seemed to the Americans as if Japan would lie in ruins for several decades to come. Yet this was not to be: within forty years after the event, Japan stood at the pinnacle of her economic strength becoming the leading industrial power in the world.

This goes to show that it is not man who fashions his own history; in truth, it is God who fashions human history in accordance with His own will. It is not people or events who control history, it is God. History may take place before our eyes, in the material world, but the course it takes is determined from the super-natural world which lies beyond our vision and perception.

Those who have been written off as spent forces can take solace from this fact of history. Experience shows that sparks erupt from volcanoes that have lain inactive for years. In this world the very annihilation and destruction of something mean that it is ready to arise and take its place as a new power on earth; a force that is spent turns into a living force.

One should never lose hope because of the dismal course events appear to be taking. When the pages of history turn, events may turn out to have been leading in a direction quite contrary to all our expectations.

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan is an Islamic spiritual scholar who has authored over 200 books on Islam, spirituality, and peaceful coexistence in a multi-ethnic society.

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