By Reena Singh
May 24, 2015
He may be pushing ninety but that does not stop him from speaking out on burning issues. Maulana Wahiduddin Khan discusses crime and punishment, gender, peace and youth, in an interaction with Reena Singh
Crime and punishment have been the subject of heated debate recently, with the accused being high profile celebrities like Salman Khan and J Jayalalithaa. Whether celebrity or not, is punishment the right way to approach wrongdoing? Is it an effective way to mete out justice and to deter others or is there a better, spiritual way?
People may be against punishment, but look at crime rates in India and Pakistan and compare them with crime-free Singapore. Caning as punishment in Singapore, for instance, is a big deterrent. If the Singapore model leads to a crime-free society, why not adopt that system? Otherwise, crime will keep happening. The aim is to establish a crime-free society. Look at the Nirbhaya case — nothing has been decided. If a society can be saved by a few strict punishments, then why not punish the guilty? I am a great advocate of punishment.
Centre for Peace and Spirituality (CPS International) member Rajat Malhotra’s brother who lives in Singapore was telling me about a wallet that was once lying in the middle of the pavement, in Singapore. People walked this way and that, but didn’t pick up the wallet. Finally the police came and took it.
Don’t you think that the ratio of police personnel to our population is too little to effectively enforce rules like in Singapore?
It is not a question of our teeming population, but about human rights activists who make so much noise about any punishment that is given out to anyone. There is population in China too, but they are disciplined. That’s because there is punishment there.
To go a step further, how does one curtail extreme and mass violence like terrorism? You say women are your best disciples. Do you think women in the Muslim world could play an important role in curbing terrorism?
Women are God’s special creations; let there be no discrimination or segregation in their progress. But the greatest problem in Muslim countries is that women are not educated. God meant women to play a key role.
My concept of education is different. First of all, analyse the potential and passion of a girl — then let her choose. Her choice of role will then match the qualities that she has. Every one of us is born with special qualities. Discover those first, then harness that quality. Everybody is born equal, and has different unique qualities. Discover that and then mould the person accordingly.
But is it possible to influence young minds so that they are calmer and think of peace rather than violence?
Charity begins at home. Change your own mind, first. Abandon your negative thinking, your way of protests, the culture of complaints and be positive. The rest will follow.
Has money caused today’s negative thinking patterns?
How can money make you negative? We follow a ‘blame others’ culture. I promote the ‘blame thyself’ factor. Look at everything in nature — stars, trees, plants — each performs its duty without blaming others.
A Hadith says that everyone in nature is good, including man. It is the environment that conditions a child differently. The blame goes to parents who pamper children.
Give children incentives instead, and let them acquire and earn with their own effort. Let them meet their challenges and build their own houses. Stop pampering your children; otherwise a bigger problem will emerge later. My children made it on their own; if children get everything from their parents, they are not able to develop their self-confidence. Let parents be healthy trendsetters and not give in to children’s demands for cars and foreign trips, for example.
I say to youth: If you are stressed, understand what you are doing wrong; ask yourself if you are at fault. Then change your way of thinking and focus on developing your own self. You change yourself 99 per cent and watch miracles happen. Look for the problem within.
When you put the blame on yourself and decide to change, things begin to go right instantly. If you persist in blaming others, peace will never come. Objective thinking without bias and prejudice brings change and wisdom…. People will complain, but take that as part of human nature. Do that and take it easy. Man is a rational animal who lives by reason. The key to changing his personality is to change his way of thinking — through talking, conversation and interaction that enables dialogue and discussion.
Also, if someone doesn’t agree with me, I take all the blame of this on myself. And I realise that once I do that, I am peaceful — there is no tension or conflict within. The benefit then is all mine. Blame thyself and you become super, you activate yourself and the learning process begins. You become free. Blame others and you live in tension and negativity. By blaming yourself, you put a full stop to negativity. By blaming others, you merely put commas and the negativity goes on and on.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, head,CPS International, was honoured with the Sayyidina Imam Hassan Ibn Ali peace award at Abu Dhabi for his peace initiatives