Every moment we live turns into history and it gains its eternity depending on the extent of its connection to ongoing events. A history reader is like a sailing captain, each mountain, island and trace he passes through are history to be written, legends to be told and inscriptions to be engraved.
What distinguished nations and helped them transition from their falls is the extent of their awareness in the lessons learnt from history. History does not repeat itself as it’s said, however, events seem similar due to lack of knowledge. Prominent figures wrote about major events throughout our history like al-Tabari, Ibn Kathir and Al-Baghdadi.
In the West, there are Arnold J. Toynbee, Will Durant and Eric Hobsbawm. Their writings are a mixture of history, ideas, lessons and events. Without these documents people cannot know what happened with those who came before them and cannot anticipate the future.
What distinguished nations and helped them transition from their falls is the extent of their awareness in the lessons learnt from history. History does not repeat itself as it’s said, however, events seem similar due to lack of knowledgeTurki Aldakhil
‘Events that changed history’
When I read the book ‘Events that changed history’ by Dr. Jamal Al-Suwaidi, what attracted my attention was the type of events he selected and chose out of thousands of developments and crises.
In the introduction, he noted how events are linked to each other. It’s true that an event is a development that is made up of time, place and social actors but it may also bring about additional events.
He compares between two treaties in the introduction. The Treaty of Vienna, signed in 1815, came “after the end of the Napoleon war which engaged Europe in a series of conflicts that lasted for long years. It’s viewed as a model of how to create peace after wars and resulted in an accurate system for the balance of powers and in (setting an approach) that contains the defeated instead of humiliating him.”
He compares between this treaty and the Treaty of Versailles, which was signed in 1919 after WWI that greatly humiliated Germany and explains how this humiliating treaty was the “seed of WWII.”
Dr. Jamal chose twenty events for his book. Among the topics he chose to comment on was The Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) between the Pope’s followers and the Catholics on one hand and the followers of Martin Luther, John Calvin and the Protestants on another. Dr. Jamal believes it’s necessary to study this war to overcome the sectarian corruption in the Islamic world as this war is a clear lesson as to how Europe was torn apart, houses were set on fire and blood was shed on the streets.
He then narrates the repercussions of the war, even after the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, where it was agreed upon the sovereignty of law and keeping the Church away from politics. Dr. Jamal believes that: “History’s wise (lesson shows) that everyone is a loser in religious wars and sectarian conflicts.” He emphasized the concept of tolerance and its role in decreasing the manifestations of hate in Europe due to the people’s awareness in lessons learnt from history and to their painful comprehension of the consequences of bloodshed and destruction on humans and structure.
Dr. Jamal uses the Treaty of Vienna to explain the development of the international order and the structuring of the modern state. The treaty solidified the principle of “balance of powers” and the necessity to be inspired by its experience and articles which protected Europe, defused the tensions of deadly disagreements and buried the embers, which always ignite wars, under the ashes of temporary settlements. The value of the treaty is in ending the reasons behind the war, which crushed the rich and old continent.
While discussing the great event, WWII (1939-1945), he links between the Marshall Plan and European growth thanks to the American role, which imposed its domination over the world after the war. However, the most important thing is not to repeat the mistake of the Treaty of Versailles.
The Marshall Plan set the pillar of peace in Europe and ended every possibility of the birth of a new Hitler in the continent. The historical mistake which was made after WWI was hence comprehended and based on this, Europe rose again, armed with a rich legacy of ideas and theories that qualified it to dive into science and spread its jewels on the entire world!
Dr. Jamal’s book that highlights twenty events is worthy of being studied by the young generation so they learn lessons from nations which suffered the plagues of absurd religious wars. The West is now contemplating the causes that sparked its wars in the utmost irony as it now understands how man’s stupidity, intolerance and hatred can produce the worst of fates and destroy all dreams.
Hatred is not cured by wars. The treatment to malice is to curb it with tolerance and reason.
Perhaps this is why ancient Arabs said:
“He who holds higher positions shall feel no malice,
And he whose temper is characterized with anger shall never reach higher ranks”
This article is also available in Arabic.
Turki Aldakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and Alarabiya.net, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies. He tweets @TurkiAldakhil.