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DIFFERENCE: A PART OF CREATION

Differences between people are a part of nature, resulting directly from the Creation plan of God. This fact is explained in the chapter Hud of the Qur’an: If your Lord had wished, He would have made mankind into one community. As it is, they will not cease to dispute—and to this end, He has created them [all], except for those to whom your Lord has shown mercy. (11:118-119)

It is a fact that there are differences between individuals as well as groups. But this is not evil: it is actually good for humanity. The difference is not simply differenced: it reflects the diversity and the unlimited nature of men and women. The healthy difference, inviting discussion and dialogue and intellectual exchange, leads to development, while a ‘no difference’ situation leads to stagnation. The acceptance of such ideas, leading to development in every field, both intellectual and physical, contributes greatly to progress. Man has unlimited potential but it needs competition and challenge to bring it forth and turn it into actuality. The difference, in providing an issue for discussion, throws down such a challenge and, by meeting this challenge, you are able to discover new areas of facts, new fields of progress. Minus difference, man would fall into an intellectual slumber and become little better than a statue.

But there have to be certain pre-conditions if the difference is to be a healthy social asset. In spite of differences, you have to remain peaceable. You have to be sincere and objective, so that the difference may be expressed in a disciplined manner. You have to express your differences peacefully, and at the same time be open-minded enough to allow others to freely express their views. Like other phenomena, the difference has two aspects—it has its plus points and its minus points. If the difference is confined within peaceful limits, it is good, but if difference goes beyond the limit and becomes a source of conflict and violence, it turns into evil. The difference with peace is a blessing, but the difference with violence is a problem.

The difference, important in every field, both secular and religious, is a form of dissent rather than a matter of controversy. It provides us with a kind of ladder by which to attain the higher reaches of our lives. Without difference, no development is possible in any branch of intellectual learning. The difference, important in every field, both secular and religious, is a form of dissent rather than a matter of controversy. It provides us with a kind of ladder by which to attain the higher reaches of our lives. It opens up factual areas that were formerly hidden and opens doors that were hitherto closed.

The difference gives us an opportunity for collective thinking. It is a part of human beings—a sign of intellectual life; only statues cannot differ from each other. When the difference is a part of creation, we have no other option but to accept it as it is. Trying to eliminate differences is certainly doomed to failure. One who is not ready to live with differences must create another world according to his personal desires. But who can create a new world?

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