Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, born in 1925, in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, is an Islamic spiritual scholar who is well-versed in both classical Islamic learning and modern disciplines. The mission of his life has been the establishment of worldwide peace. He has received the Padma Bhushan, the Demiurgus Peace International Award and Sayyidina Imam Al Hassan Peace award for promoting peace in Muslim societies. He has been called ’Islam’s spiritual ambassador to the world’ and is recognized as one of its most influential Muslims . His books have been translated into sixteen languages and are part of university curricula in six countries. He is the founder of the Centre for Peace and Spirituality based in New Delhi.


DIFFERENCES are a part of nature. By birth itself, every man and woman is unique and different from everyone else. If people think and act in different ways, it is but natural that it ends up creating problems for their immediate neighbours — and even for their distant neighbours, given that in the modern electronic age, every person is another's e-neighbour. This means that every person is a potential problem. This state of affairs creates constant conflict in society. Because of this, one can say that if the world has seven billion people, it has seven billion issues that are a potential challenge to peace. It is this fact of each of us being different and unique in our ways of thinking and behaving that creates almost all sorts of problems, whether in the family or in the wider society, and even at the national and international levels.

But this difference is not really an evil in itself. It is, in fact, a challenge — a peaceful challenge. Effectively facing this challenge using positive thinking is a way to develop your personality.

In ancient times, when people travelled on foot or rode on horses or camels, there were no traffic rules. But when the age of automobiles set in and mechanical modes of transportation were invented, the management of vehicles on the roads became a major challenge. This challenge necessitated the formulation of traffic rules. All developments in human civilisation have arisen, whether directly or indirectly, as a result of similar challenges. Differences create challenges. Challenges lead to new thinking. And new thinking results in progress and development.

It is an obvious fact that every human being thinks in a different way. So, if there are seven billion individuals in our world, there are seven billion different thinkers. If you meet someone who thinks and behaves differently from you, do not become negative. Do not take this encounter as a problem. Rather, consider it as a challenge and try to meet it through positive thinking. Think anew and try to find new solutions. This kind of thinking is bound to activate your mind. And when your mind is activated, your creativity will be enhanced, leading to further development and progress.

If our world has seven billion issues to handle, then in terms of results these issues can potentially be seven billion intellectual supporters. This is the greatest blessing of nature. Without this, the world would have been reduced to a dull place. Instead of intellectual awakening, intellectual stagnation would have set in and the process of development would have come to a halt. Do not try to eliminate differences. Rather, take them as an opportunity for your development and avail, with a positive mind, of the opportunities that they provide. The only thing that is required in this context is to maintain peace at any cost. Peace means normalcy, and where there is normalcy, there are opportunities for everyone to avail of.

In his book, A History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (1874), John William Draper refers to the conflicts and differences between the Church and the scientific community. This is a negative aspect of that phenomenon. But there is also a positive aspect of this difference. It was these differences that triggered the minds of scientists, setting off a new intellectual process, which, consequently, ushered in the age of science.

Differences are a part of nature, and anything that is a part of nature is unalterable. We have to accept it without trying to change it. Do not try to eliminate differences. Rather, learn the art of ‘difference management’. Try to manage differences in the right way, and very soon you will discover that they are not an evil but, rather, a blessing in disguise.

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
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