By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
(Translation of the Urdu book Deen ki Siyasi Ta‘abir)
How Mindsets Work!
Even if people are given adequate proofs and logic for something, you can never be sure that they will accept it as valid. Something that appears as white to everyone else may appear as black to someone, and no matter what proofs you provide him, he may refuse to budge from his position. This is a general phenomenon. It happens because in perceiving and understanding something and forming an opinion about it, our perspectives play a very important role. When we read something, we never read it as it is. Rather, we read it through the prism of our perspective or mindset. Consequently, what we understand is not really the thing in itself, but, rather, the thing as it has been moulded and perceived by our mindset. This is why two people who have very different mentalities or mindsets do not see the same thing in an identical way or form the same opinion about it.
Let me cite an example to clarify this point. In the preface to my Urdu book Mazhab Aur Jadeed Chalinj (which has been translated into English and published under the title God Arises) I acknowledged a place where I had benefitted from Maulana Maududi. Although I have ideological differences with the Maulana, I do not think that such differences should lead one to refuse to recognize that there may be truth in some things a person with whom one has differences says.
This portion of the preface to my book was quoted in and commented on in two Urdu magazines. Interestingly, in doing so the impressions that they sought to create were completely contradictory to each other. For its part, the Faraan had this to say:
The respected Wahiduddin Khan Saheb is a high-level religious thinker. His scholarship is very vast. With God’s blessings, in addition to his learning and scholarship, his own life is also religious and characterized by fear of God. In the preface to his book, he writes:
‘It is a strange coincidence that the names of two personalities are linked to this book who have been regarded as particularly notable symbols of the Deen in the last quarter of this century in India and Pakistan—I mean Maulana Abul Ala Maududi and Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi. It is indirectly because of Maulana Maududi that, fifteen years ago, during a critical stage in my life, my heart was overwhelmed by the desire to devote my life to the service of the Deen, one expression of which is this book. And it was because of the […] respected Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi […] that this work reached its culmination.’
This sort of clear acknowledgement is evidence of the writer’s nobility, sincerity and love for the truth. Otherwise, in today’s world, students defy their teachers and do not want to give any credit to their benefactors and those who have trained them.
In contrast, the very same words from the preface of my book, which the Faran perceived as exemplifying what it called ‘nobility, sincerity and love for the truth’, were understood in a diametrically opposite way by a magazine that has a very different mindset. My reference here is to the review of this book of mine that appeared in the Jama‘at-e Islami’s magazine Zindagi. The magazine quoted the very same lines from my preface as the Faraan did, but the mentality that informs this magazine led to a very completely different opinion. Thus, the reviewer quoted the following lines from my preface:
’‘It is indirectly because of Maulana Maududi that, fifteen years ago, during a critical stage in my life, my heart was overwhelmed by the desire to devote my life to the service of the Deen, one expression of which is this book’.
He then commented on these lines in the following words:
When I read this quotation, I remembered this couplet:
He whom I taught the skill of shooting arrows
Finally made me a target for his arrow!
Note how in the same quotation from my preface one reader discerned nobility, sincerity and love for the truth, while another saw a reason to be sarcastic and indulge in unwarranted and useless criticism. One saw in it humanness and a lofty purpose, while another thought of it as an expression of unworthiness. To one, it was something laudable, while to another it was despicable and something to be mocked at.
This holds true with virtually everything in life. To truly comprehend anything and to form a correct opinion about it, one needs a proper mindset. If that is absent, then, no matter how obvious a thing may be, one will fail to understand it properly.