FROM MAULANA’S DESK
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 third highest civilian honour in India, and the Demiurgus Peace International Award. He has been called ’Islam’s spiritual ambassador to the world’ and is recognised as one of its most influential Muslims1 . 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.
BETWEEN LESSER EVIL AND GREATER EVIL
The Serenity Prayer is the common name for a prayer authored by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971). The prayer goes as follows:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.”
This saying is based on a law of nature. The fact remains that we are living in a society. We have to accept others, as it is only then we can have the room to live with others.
According to this law of nature, there is a difference between the individual and society. As an individual, one can opt for the all good. But, when it comes to society, one has to accept what is practically possible. A wise person is one who knows this difference.
In society, people tend to opt for those things that are always and entirely good for them. But, this goes against social wisdom. In society the choice is not between 'all good' and 'all bad'. In fact, the right choice here is the lesser of the two evils. In one’s personal life, one can try to opt for the greater good. But, in society one has to be ready to opt for what seems to be the lesser evil.
In India Muslims are obsessed with some problems that they have incorrectly labelled as “evils”. These are in fact challenges and are a part of life for all communities. Muslims try to remove these “evils”. But, what has been the result? Out of failure, they have turned negative. They have developed hatred and an unsympathetic attitude towards others. This situation results in a greater evil.
Negative thinking paralyzes one’s thinking faculty.
Deeper analysis of the issue shows that unfavourable situations in terms of the result, are lesser evils. While, negative thinking, in terms of the result, is the greater evil. Negativity paralyzes one’s thinking faculty. The result is that one’s progress is halted.
The best advice for Indian Muslims is to forget the lesser evil, and try to save themselves from the greater evil. This principle will greatly help in the development of the community. This is the wisest formula for Muslim empowerment.
If Muslims engage in negative thinking, they will only be involved in complaints and protests against others. But, if they develop positive thinking, then the immediate result of this would be tremendous. That is, they would forget the memories of the past, they would commit to a realistic planning of their actions, they would adopt a friendly behaviour toward others, their focus would shift from problems to opportunities, and they would regard others as partners instead of rivals. These traits would increase their creativity. If to date they had been an uncreative community in this country, then from now onwards they would become a creative community. And, there is no doubt that in any country it is the creative community that plays the greatest role.
The problem of evil is not a problem facing only the Muslim community. Rather, it is a general problem, and every community has its share of these problems, although in different forms. A wise community is one which understands this law of nature and becomes content with the lesser evil in order to save itself from the greater evil. This is the demand of reason as well as religion. o
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan