The Emperor’s Dream

While searching for information on Wang Daiyu (not me, the original scholar) I came across a old issue of Saudi Aramco dedicated to Islam in China. One of the articles reproduces a somewhat famous story, which is almost semi-legendary amongst some Chinese Muslims, regarding the history of Islam in China. Here is the excerpt from the magazine.

One night T’ai Tsung, the emperor of China, had a dream.

I dreamed of a turbaned man and of monsters … The man in the turban, with his hands clasped and murmuring prayers, pursued the monsters… To look on, he [had] indeed a strange countenance, totally unlike ordinary men; his face was the color of black gold… his moustache and beard were cut… short and even; he had phoenix eyebrows, and high nose and black eyes. His clothes were white and powdered, a jeweled girdle of jade encircled his loins, on his head was… a cloth turban like a coiled dragon. His presence was awe-inspiring… When he entered he knelt towards the West, reading the book he held in his hand. When the monsters saw him they were at once changed into… proper forms, and in distressful voices pleaded for forgiveness. But the turbaned man read on for a little, till the monsters turned to blood and at last to dust, and at the sound of a voice the turbaned man disappeared.

The emperor summoned the Interpreter of Dreams, who explained that the man in the dream was a Muslim from the West – from Arabia where a great sage had been granted a revelation from God in the form of a book. As for the monsters, they were symbols of evil influences at work in the world – which only the Muslims could destroy.

At that, a prince at the court spoke up and said: “I have heard well of these Muslims. They are straightforward and true, gracious and loyal. Throw open the pass, let communications be unhindered… and by so doing encourage peace. I beseech you to issue a decree and to send an ambassador across the western frontiers to the… Muslims, asking him to send a sage to deal with the evils that threaten, that the country may be at peace!”

Here is a couplet from a Chinese poem written in the 17th century inspired from this incident.

Islam was once found only beyond the western border.
Who could have foretold that Muslims were to dwell in China forever?

8 responses to “The Emperor’s Dream

  1. Pingback: The Emporer’s Dream « Wisdoms and Witticisms·

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