By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan for New Age Islam
24 August 2016
Q: You say Muslims are dais and others are their madus. Some people might consider this as a very one-sided relationship. They may claim that it implies that Muslims have nothing to learn from others and that it is only others that have something to learn and take from Muslims. Would you agree with this contention? Or, do you think Muslims could also learn from others?
A: I think this way of thinking—that Muslims don’t need to learn from others—is incorrect. Mutual learning is a natural formula which goes on in every field, including in the field of dawah. Muslims must learn from others. This, I believe, is a law of nature. A group or nation that does not learn from others will cease to develop or make progress.
Q: If you think that Muslims, too, could learn from others, do you think they could learn only about worldly things from others or also with regard to spiritual/religious issues?
A: Muslims should have the spirit of learning on every issue. This is a law of nature, from which no escape is possible.
Q: Do you think that just as Islam has spiritual treasures that Muslims should communicate to others (through Dawah) and which others can benefit from, other religions also have spiritual treasures that their followers could share with Muslims and which Muslims could also benefit from?
A: Yes, this is right. Mutual learning is a law of nature, and Muslims are no exception in this regard.
Q: Have you gained any spiritual treasures from other religions—through your study of them and/or your interaction with their followers? If so, could you please provide some details?
A: In Christianity, there is the formula of ‘Love your enemy’. I have learnt a lot from this principle and have also extensively elaborated upon it in various writings and lectures of mine. I consider it an Islamic formula. Similarly, Jesus Christ once said: ‘Give to Caesar what is due to Caesar and give to God what is due to God.’ This saying is very correct, and I think Muslims should adopt it in their present situation.
By birth, I am a Muslim. Through my study of the Quran, I have found that Islam’s concept of life is that a person should intellectually develop himself to such an extent that he is able to turn a minus into a plus. I had learnt this principle through my study of Islam. Later, I came to know of an incident of the famous Indian monk Swami Vivekananda. Once one of his Christian friends invited the Swami to his house and led him to a room. There, on a table, lay a pile of books, one on top of the other. These were sacred books of major world religions. They were placed in such an order that the Gita was at the bottom and the Bible was right on top. Would the Swami get provoked, the host wondered. The host pointed towards the books and asked: “Swami Ji, what is your comment on this arrangement?” Swami Ji smiled gently and said: “The foundation is really good.”
This incident in the life of Swami Vivekananda provided me a very good illustration of a principle I had learnt from the Islamic scripture.