By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan for New Age Islam
13 July 2016
Several years ago, some Russian scientists conducted an experiment and discovered that it is possible to squeeze water out of stones! The experiment entailed extracting rocks from a few metres under the surface of the earth, placing them in metal containers, and then subjecting them to an immense pressure of ten tonnes per square centimetre, which caused drops of water to come dripping out.
This is a sign of God, providing us with valuable lessons about the amazing potentials and possibilities that God has kept for us to access in this world. A rock is a hard, dry object, but water can start to drip from it when a certain action is performed on it.
A certain Muslim man once built a house for himself. His neighbour was a contractor by profession and belonged to another community. There was a plot of land in between their houses, and soon they both started quarrelling over it. Each claimed that the land belonged to him. The contractor perceived that he could not manage to get his way by himself, and so he approached some people of his community and instigated them against the Muslim man. Soon, an angry crowd gathered outside the Muslim man’s house, making a great hue and cry.
The Muslim man stepped out of his house, aware that the crowd was bent on creating trouble for him. He knew that if he got even slightly provoked, the crowd could easily kill him and burn down his house. Addressing the men, he said: “Who is your representative? Please come forward so that we can talk.”
Four or five leader-like men stepped out. The Muslim took them into his office. When they had comfortably sat down, he said to them, “This is a very small issue, and it can very easily be solved. As you know, the rightful ownership of a property is indicated in the official documents. By examining the relevant papers, you can find out who the rightful owner of any bit of land is. I will hand over my documents to you, and you can also take the contractor’s documents. Please examine both sets of documents, and after that I would be ready to accept whatever decision you arrive at.”
On hearing the Muslim man speak like this, the leaders of the crowd suddenly completely forgot their anger. “This is a very reasonable man!” they remarked in surprise. “He has allowed us to decide the issue on our own!”
The men spent the next few days examining the documents. Finally, they decided in favour of the Muslim.
These men were, to begin with, like rocks, but when they were pressed, as it were, by the Muslim man’s noble behaviour, drops of water then began dripping from the ‘rocks’!
A psychologist very rightly remarks, “When one’s ego is provoked, it turns into super-ego, and the result is breakdown.” The fact is that there is a ‘devil’ inside every human being. Ordinarily, this ‘devil’ lies fast asleep. Your intelligence lies in letting this ‘devil’ in others remain sleeping. If, however you act foolishly, you will awaken this ‘devil’, and then it will go about doing everything that it can against you. No matter whose hidden ‘devil’ you awaken through your foolishness—he could be someone from your community or from another; he could even be your own brother or other close relative—you will have to face the same sort of bitter consequences.
Avoid Conflict by Ignoring the Lesser Evil
Umair ibn Habib ibn Hamasha, a Companion of the Prophet, instructed his son, saying:
O my son! Keep away from the company of foolish people, because being in their company is a sickness. He who keeps away from the foolish obtains happiness. He who befriends the foolish repents. He who refuses to tolerate the lesser evil of a foolish person will have to tolerate the bigger evil of such a person. And if among you someone wants to engage in calling people to what is good and exhorting them to abstain from evil, he must be prepared to face difficulties, and he must have faith that he will receive reward for this from God. This is because he who has faith that he will be rewarded by God will not face any harm when faced with difficulties.
If a foolish person throws pebbles at someone, the latter may immediately react by doing the same thing to him. However, the best answer in such a situation is to exercise tolerance. By tolerating ‘pebbles’ you will prevent the situation from turning into a conflict that involves ‘rocks’. The fact is that not to be willing to tolerate the lesser evil of a foolish person will always mean that you will have to accept having to face a much bigger evil instead, sooner or later.
Once, a wrestler belonging to a particular community went to a wrestling ground that belonged to another community and entered into a match with a wrestler from that community. After the match was over, he began complaining that he had been cheated. Now, even if he was right, what he should have done was to simply accept the situation that he was faced with. Then, after preparing himself well, he could have returned again, after some days, for a second match. And this time, no one’s cheating or deception could have caused him to lose. But if, on the other hand, he refused to accept having been cheated and was bent on taking revenge for it, say by attacking the wrestler from the other community, it would turn into a full-fledged communal riot, and then the entire town would have gone up in flames. The price of not tolerating a minor wrongdoing in a wrestling ground would have been enormous destruction of life and property.
Similarly, suppose a group of people belonging to a particular religious community is worshipping together in their place of worship. Just then, some people from another community throw something into their worship space that these people consider unclean. This is, undoubtedly, an unpleasant situation. If this group of worshippers tolerates this unpleasantness, the matter will rest there and will soon die out. But if, on the other hand, they react by becoming angry and confrontational, the situation is bound to snowball into a riot, leading to loss of precious lives and terrible destruction that cannot be compensated for, even over a period of many years.
Suppose a group of people belonging to one community pass by the place of worship of another community while playing musical instruments and singing songs. The people worshipping inside feel disturbed. If they tolerate this minor inconvenience, after this temporary disturbance the situation will return to normal. But if, instead, they get worked up and try to stop the procession, the processionists may refuse to budge, and then the whole matter may escalate into a deadly communal riot. People who could not tolerate having to listen to musical instruments being played outside their place of worship for just a few minutes will then be forced to tolerate witnessing the sight of their houses going up in flames and of rivers of blood flowing all around them.
People very easily take to advising others and pointing out their errors because this gives a tremendous boost to their ego. It makes them imagine that they are right and that others are wrong. But the fact is that this work of advising others and admonishing them is only proper for those who are ready to pay the price for it. And the price for this is to be willing to exercise patience in the face of difficulties.
If you scold someone and criticise him for his faults, he is bound to get angry. So, when faced with a situation where someone is provoking you, you must become as soft as snow. But if instead of doing that you react by getting angry, you will be guilty of behaving in the same way as him—and that is not something that God wants.
You can save yourself from getting angry when faced with difficulties that you are bound to encounter when you try to advise and admonish others only if you do this work just for the sake of God. If you want to make people God-conscious, you must first be God-conscious yourself. If you get angry in reaction to the difficulties that you face at the hands of others, you only prove that you seek reward for your actions from fellow human beings, not from God. And when you fail to reap the reward that you expect from fellow human beings, you get angry. On the other hand, if you hope to receive the reward for your deeds from God, you will not mind at all if people praise your work or criticize it.