The story of Jesus is the story of conflicts between religions and races that began at the dawn of civilizations on the Old Silk Road and continue to this day. Every day we feel the impact of his time on earth 2,000 years ago. He was called a prophet. Frequently, the question is still asked; “What prophet do you follow?” Your answer reveals everything someone needed to know about you, even if they will allow you to live or die. We are still fighting over whether “my prophet is better than your prophet.”
We don't know the right answers because we don't know the truth. We act on blind faith, and that is mankind’s big senseless mistake. There is no excuse for killing one another over ideologies when we now have the right tools- we have physics, science, archaeology, DNA testing, carbon 14 testing- these are tools that God gave us, tools our ancient prophets did not have- tools to get us to the truth. Imagine what we can learn by sampling the DNA and carbon 14 from every ancient grave- from the alleged tomb of Jesus, the Roza Bal, to Abraham and Sarah, to Muhammad! But who among us is brave enough for the truth?
Did Jesus really die on the cross and rise to heaven on the third day? Much evidence in this book points to a different explanation. Did Abraham and Ishmael really built Al Kaaba Al Musharrafah and place the Al-Ḥajaru al-Aswad (black stone) inside, waiting for Muhammad? This place was never mentioned in any geographies or histories written in the three centuries before the rise of Islam. Why? Because it never existed! There is not one trace of a rock or a temple, nor even a road or a camel trail anywhere in the region of the kabba for thousands of years. No human settlements were there, not ever. Yet Islam continues to perpetrate the story so they can also sustain the false genealogy about Muhammad's ancestors. The city of Mecca was actually built by the tribe of Khuzaa'h in the 4th century A.D., hundreds of years after Jesus and thousands of years after Abraham (source). Ibn Ishak’s genealogy of Muhammad even contradicts Mohammad’s own claims that he did not know his ancestors, and neither did anyone else (source). Every religion has statements of faith, not fact. Why do we fight over our prophets and gods when we ourselves haven’t verified what is true about them, and what is fabrication?
That is not to say there is nothing true or good in religion. Religions are helpful to mankind, and, in one form or another, will probably be with us for a very long time. They fill a spiritual niche within our genetic makeup, helping us to grasp the unexplained and look to the universe for answers. It’s our ancient prophets who best expressed awareness of the greater universe beyond- even anticipating our space travel through their descriptions of angels, ascensions, and unnatural moving lights.
Physicists try to determine if the whole universe is ‘conscious’. Are we a small reflection of the ‘god-consciousness’ of the entire universe? If this is true, then we have ‘God-consciousness’ regardless what prophet, or what spiritual path we choose. 'May the Force be with you' has the same spiritual power as saying ‘May God be with you.'
The Old Silk Road is approximately 4500 miles/7242.048 kilometers long, more than crossing the United Sates from coast to coast, which is only 2,451 miles/3,944 km. The Silk Road linked China to the coasts of the Mediterranean, the Holy Lands, then on to Rome and Britain. It took a caravan of pack animals, men, women, and children approximately three years to make the entire journey. It took Marco Polo twenty-four years. I am amazed how they just kept going, one foot in front of the other for years. I cannot imagine their hardships and sufferings along the way. And yet since the dawn of man we have faced great dangers and roamed great distances. The benefits of friendly trade were significant enough that a small trader and his little family could secure a field and some livestock when they returned, insuring the family’s welfare for generations to come. Their ancient trade items still turn up in graves from Egypt to Beijing. The philosophers of Rome and Greece were well known to the Chinese, who produced their own great thinkers with similar ideas. Exchanging ideas, information, medicines, and skills were just as valuable on the Old Silk Road as silks, jewels, and spices.
The Old Silk Road (and hundreds of its branches and side roads) has been a main thoroughfare for mankind for 40,000 years (source). We know this because remnants of the first people settling around the Himalayas are that old. People spread along the entire base of the Himalayas, then fanned out to avoid the great deserts on the other side of the mountains. Crossing over was impossible, and these natural barriers had a great impact on humans-on your ancestors and mine.
Only by flying over the Himalayas can their immense height and size be realized. Rising to nearly 30,000 feet (almost 7 miles straight up) is almost the absolute max for commercial aircraft, and yet here you are, at eye level with the highest peaks in the world. You'd need a space shuttle to continue higher. Seeing the mountain range from the stratosphere is breadth-taking. There are no clouds up here to block your views clear across the planet. The mountains are magnificent and huge. By detouring around these mountains, going far north, or far south,changed everything about our ancestors: the color of their eyes and hair and skin, their height and build, their diet, the altitudes that changed their blood-oxygen content, the shoes and clothing they devised, the amount of sunshine vitamin D available, the cultures and languages, genetic makeup, Haplo-groups and blood types -everything was determined by the decisions our ancestors made when facing great obstacles and new environments.
At the time of Christ, the camel caravans on the Old Silk routes consisted of as many as 3,000 camels led by well organized, well protected traders and guards. Unless one stayed on the main roads, where a village might be every twenty miles ahead (a day's travel) it was never safe to travel in small family groups, even 3,000 years ago. Today as many as 300 trucks a day, driven by descendants of those early camel drivers, will pass through Afghanistan and Pakistan, and a whole bunch of other ‘stans’ (there are eight countries ending in ‘stan’-it means ‘place of….’) crossing borders with contraband, unloading drugs, electronics, and clothing on the Black Markets scattered along the route. Every few miles through the Khyber Pass, war lords or drug barons stop the trucks and demand “tax” to pass safely. Not much has changed over the centuries.
For a very long time, Pakistan engaged in a mutual agreement with landlocked Afghanistan to get contraband from the huge port city of Karachi to the Old Silk Road through the heartland of Afghanistan. Nowadays some strife might be attributed to efforts to build a huge pipeline across Central Asia. China and Russia have great economic interests in such commercial endeavors. But there is so much strife here that it’s impossible to define the reasons anymore. Men fight out of local habit and custom, not necessarily for great and noble causes. Some groups, like the Muslim Brotherhood (funded through Saudi Arabia, as are these terrorist groups), plan and wage terrorist campaigns that may take hundreds of years to unfold.
I rarely accessed a watch, a camera, or a computer during the years I lived in Central Asia. Information was passed along the Old Silk Road via the camel wireless, often the only, and the most effective intelligence source that we had access to. Since ancient times, fellow travelers shared information this way-sharing with one another what lie ahead, what pastureland was flooded, what section of road was covered with debris from a landslide, what village was stricken with cholera, what armies were on the march, who was currently in charge and collecting taxes. Language was not a serious problem. Diagrams could be drawn in the dirt with sticks while the animals drank from the stream and children played nearby. It's a system of communication I've also relied on when traveling, when local dialects and languages change and I can't count money or ask for a bathroom in a local dialect.
As Americans watched the horrors of 9-11 unfold on TV, I stood on the sidewalk in the local village, surrounded by men staring at the TV screen in the store window, then staring at me waiting for a response, then staring at the screen, counting, waiting for the next plane. They obviously knew more from the camel wireless than all the American CIA or the Pakistan ISI knew. Of course I felt anger and terror, but I grit my teeth and clenched my hands, stared ahead and never saying a word. My face became like stone. I dare not betray any inner emotions.
The American Embassy began urging everyone to get out of the region, and they did, quickly. However, I rationalized that if I left, and full war broke out, then my visas to return might be denied. I would lose every chance I now had to gather more information about Jesus and Mary on the Old Silk Road, or their DNA. I opted to be low keyed, take my chances, and stay here. The months stretched into years.
I wore a burqa every day, keeping as low a profile as I could muster. Yet even with my burqa on, everyone smiled and had a cheerful hello for ‘Miss Sue” when I passed by. This friendly gesture was enough to terrify me. I had no way to hide. Nothing was guaranteed safe from day to day, or even moment to moment. I preferred to live among villagers as often as I could. On bad days, soldiers bullied us when violence suddenly erupted on the streets for no particular reason. The soldiers were always on alert. We had language barriers. A tourist or visitor could be shot for the inability to understand and follow their simple directions quickly. Shop doors slammed shut when trouble broke out. I was dragged or pushed to safety and locked in back rooms until the danger passed and the soldiers were gone.
Imam Mahdi's flag, the black flag of Shias that struck terror in the hearts of many, was a beacon of safety for me. Where ever that flag flew, I was protected and among friends.
Shias have very different ideas about genealogy and DNA quests because they themselves respect and support descendants of the Prophet Muhammad's two grandsons, Al Hassan and Al Hussein. Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, the current King of Jordan, is the 41st generation of descendants from Muhammad. Descendants are titled 'saada' or 'sayeds', a word similar in use to 'desposyni'. DNA studies have not yet been done for such claimants, but this is possible because Muhammad’s grave is still intact. The murders and persecution of Muhammad's family was on a scale of brutality and power struggles as emotionally traumatic as anything that Jesus, his apostles and many Christians suffered for their faith.
When there was no food to eat or not enough sticks to keep a warm fire going at night, we slept on dirt floors listening for noises in the dark, terrified every sound might be soldiers or mujahedeen prowling in the dark. Great distances are now between us, yet every few months someone will borrow a cell phone and reach out to say hello, to say that a child is born or a sick grandfather died, or the army shut down stores and arrested local youth. By listening to what is said and what is not said, one can determine the true situation. Across miles and years, we still reach out to one another for comfort, assurance, friendship, and help in dire emergencies.
Although I am not Muslim, I regularly attended services with my friends in Islamabad at the Faisal Mosque, the largest in Pakistan. It is a very impressive display of Saudi power and influence in the region. In the 1990’s, as Saudi Wahabi/Salafi fundamentalism dug deeper into Pakistan and Afghan society, this changed everything; the cultural diversity, the Government, the Army, and even ISI. The vibrant India-Asian culture was imploding under the oppressive weight of fundamentalism, variously called Taliban, or Al Qaida, ISIS, Boco Haram, Al-Shabaab, Hamas and Hezbollah. A 'religion of peace' has become a machine for world strife and religious conflicts. I learned to follow the money if I wanted to understand the bigger picture as events unfolded around the world.
The Afghan war lords found themselves in the heady position of having to deal with large American and international companies hoping to build the gas pipeline through the region. The Afghans had raped their own country and stripped it bare. Not a building or a car, not a tree nor even a telephone pole was left standing if it could be sold to Pakistan on the black market. Afghanistan became a wasteland where only the mullahs thrived.
The horrors of 9-11 were over in one day in America. But similar violent scenes happen regularly around the world, especially in Pakistan and Afghanistan, two of the world’s most unstable and unsafe countries. The graves I write about in this book, the grave of Mari in Murree, the grave of Yuz Asaf in Srinagar, and others, are on the troubled war-torn borders. These sites are at great risk for destruction. Politics, religions, and daily survival merge in to one discussion, which ultimately involves Kashmir and the tomb of Yuz Asaf directly.
Kashmir has gone through more than 40 years of terrible suffering during one insurgency after another. Falsely touted as a ‘freedom movement”, it is actually a call back to fifteenth century Wahabi tribalism that has no place in the modern world. Someone recently dubbed this 'Mullah-ism"- an apt description.
This isn’t about ‘freedom’ for Kashmir anymore, because as part of India, they already have democratic freedom. Something else is at work here, a hidden agenda. The fundamentalist flags displayed during insurgencies (which are often daily) were designed for their masters, not their freedoms. They have missed the point, or been misled away from the point. The long arm of Wahabism funds their insurgencies, influences their politics, and compels them into the fold of radicalism. Eritrea was separated from Ethiopia, Bangladesh from India, Sudan from North Africa, constant unrest in Myanmar and Buddhist Thailand, and ongoing attempts to get Palestine separated from Israel, and Kashmir from India. Follow the money. It comes from the same source for funding and planning regardless where in the world the insurgencies happen.
Kashmir graves are filled with the bodies of ‘martyrs’ for the ‘Kashmir cause’- yet the only grave that really matters in Kashmir, the only grave that could help Kashmir is the grave of Yuz Asaf in Roza Bal. That grave alone holds the key to Kashmir peace, and perhaps even to world peace. It is THAT significant. Yet, instead of allowing archaeology and science to present the evidence, the grave is treated with disdain and disbelief, rumors, lies, and superstitions.
One day a 10 year old Afghan girl stopped by the office to gather extra food and clothes for her family. She was living in an Afghan refugee camp near Islamabad, where families endured daily hardships, suffering and dangers. Her grandfather was a notoriously cruel Taliban chief who would have killed me in a heartbeat. She had little education. Even access to electricity was a rare event in her life.
Perhaps she had seen a real computer once or twice because when she saw one on the office desk, she was immediately drawn to it. I showed her how to hold the mouse and click on links. She caught on quickly and went breezing through the Internet, her eyes wide with wonder, her mind racing with glimpses of the world beyond. This is indicative of the keen intellects and high intelligence that people in this region are known for, the Pashtun tribes in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Kashmiris and Punjabis, these are incredible people with rich cultures.
These flashes of keen intellect can appear in the most unexpected of places. A brilliant mind has no color, no special DNA marker or religion or Haplo group. She is living proof that our species is hard-wired to be thinkers, innovators, adventurers, creators, survivors. We’ll do very well in space someday. We have an abundance of untapped creative geniuses in tents and mud huts around the world, waiting for a chance to help us settle in new homes among the stars.
The old tribal arguments about “my prophet is better than your prophet” still hold us back from world peace and cooperation, even after thousands of years. We still carry our tribal baggage, walking barefoot beside our camels and donkeys, clinging to old prophets and scriptures in the face of our own uncertainty, as though the answers to our future are somewhere in our past. And perhaps so. We have shown one another a capacity for extreme cruelty and stupidity. And yet in the face of an Afghan refugee child, I saw our hope for the future and our capacity for love, intelligence, and new adventures.
We are destined to leave the Old Silk Road and journey to the stars. The foundations for our future were laid down long ago and far away by our prophets and apostles, soldiers and traders, and the women and children walking beside them, tending the pack animals with uncertainty, not knowing what was ahead. We’ll find our way because this urge to keep going, to explore and discover, to travel great distances is now hard-wired in our genes by all the ancestors and prophets who went before. They filled our imaginations with glowing descriptions of life in ‘Heaven’, among the stars. Because of them, we are on our way there.
Perhaps that was the intention all along.