A translation of Sir Syed’s “Taasub”
By: Abbas Ali
“Prejudice is one of the worst qualities of a human being. It is the worst quality of a human being that devours and destroys all his good deeds and virtues. The prejudiced might not talk about it, but his attitude shall exhibit that he does not possess justice which is the sublime human virtue. If the biased indulges in any mistake due to his prejudice, he cannot come out of it because his bias will not allow him to listen and ponder against it. Moreover, if he does not commit any mistake but is on the right and straight path, he does not let spread the benefits and advantages so that his opposers may not have an opportunity to get warned against their mistakes.
Prejudice prevents a person from doing tens and thousands of good deeds. Frequently, a man considers a deed beneficial but does not adopt it because of his bias. He is caught deliberately in evil deeds and is away from good deeds.
I shall discuss some religious prejudices. However, let me talk about civilizational and social losses that occur due to bias. According to the laws of nature, man is social. He cannot fulfill his imperative needs; he is always in need of helpers and associates gained with love and friendship. However, the prejudiced person remains deviated and weary from all good people; he does not incline to friendship and love of anybody except few who share his opinions.
Logic and the laws of nature require that whatever is beneficial, comfortable, worthy, and estimable regarding issues related to civilization and society, humans ought to adopt those. Nevertheless, the prejudiced are deprived of these blessings and remain unaware of the exciting and beneficial things obtained with new research and new branches of science and art. The powers of his logic and reason become useless, and whatever reason and rhyme he possesses, he does not make any addition and alteration to it. He becomes such an animal that he cannot learn anything new except his natural tendencies.
Because of their prejudice in all aspects of life, there are many nations who, be it etiquettes, knowledge, skill, excellence, wisdom, civilization, politeness, supremacy, wealth, and riches, have fallen into the abyss of dishonor from the zenith. Furthermore, various nations adopted virtues from other countries because of their unprejudiced way of life and rose from a dismal position to the climax of development.
I suspect my brethren are in the clutches of bad quality of prejudice, and because of this, they cannot receive thousands of virtues and are unable to present themselves as a respectable nation, and are caught in dishonor and disrespect remain uneducated and unskillful. Therefore, I desire to come out of this lousy quality and reach the highest place of knowledge, excellence, skill, and wonders.
We Muslims commit a mistake in considering prejudice good like an ill-looking sentiment of virtue at times. A religiously prejudiced person, he looks down upon all those who do not belong to his religion and all those branches of knowledge and arts that are not popular among his religion’s people. That person is considered truly religious and solid in his beliefs. However, this enormous mistaken perception of thinking and ingenuine thinking has ruined Muslims. Our religion, spiritual knowledge, and the world and worldly knowledge are entirely separate. Therefore, it would be naïve if we resort to any prejudice about learning worldly wisdom and arts.
Let us suppose that learning this worldly knowledge might weaken our religious beliefs because religious issues become doubtful and wrong after studying this modern knowledge. It is very remorseful thinking that Muslims consider their otherwise strong and truthful religion so weak that the development of worldly wisdom might disturb it (we seek refuge in Allah from it). The religion of Islam is so strong and confirmed that as much as religious and worldly knowledge keeps on developing, so shall its truthfulness be proven.
Now we shall discuss that being firm in one’s religion is different, and it is an adorable quality attributed to a religious person. Furthermore, even if it is related to religious issues, prejudice is horrible; it is even harmful to the religion itself.
Unprejudiced but firm in one’s religion is always a true friend of his religion. He disseminates the goodness and virtues of his faith; proves the principles of his religion with logic and reason. He listens to the arguments of his opponents and critics with a calm mind, stands firm to defend, and provides opportunities to others to protect it.
On the contrary, the prejudiced is a foolish friend of his religion. His foolishness harms his religion. Begins with acquiring the lousy quality abhorred by every Wiseman, blots the mannerism and its faith results. He becomes a big hurdle in spreading the goodness and attraction of his religion. Because of his prejudice, bad manners, false pride, he becomes hardened and violates the verse: If you were rude and hard-hearted, they would have dispersed around you.
A person prejudiced in religion does not like to listen to the objections leveled against his faith, and unintentionally he becomes a source of validating the opponents’ objections without research and unanswered. With his foolishness, he proves to the world that there is fear that the objections of his opponents might disturb his religion. So, all these arguments are not in friendship with the belief, but the opponents’ victory.
Therefore prejudice, be it religious or worldly, is very bad and gives birth to various evils.
Being proud and arrogant and considering his fellow humans, except a few, contemptible and humiliated, is a prejudiced person’s trademark.
His principle demands to keep aloof from the world’s people except a few, but he cannot do that and meets everyone with a cold heart because of the compulsion. He respects them and shows false faithfulness; he creates one more bad quality of lying, betrayal, and cunningness.
No nation in the world has obtained all its greatness, good qualities, and happiness on its own, but always, one country has benefited from another country. Nevertheless, a prejudiced person does not enjoy these blessings.
He does not progress in knowledge; he does not acquire skill and arts, is unaware of world scenarios, and does not taste the wonders of nature. He keeps on losing employment opportunities and worldly dignity such as businesses etc., over time, he keeps on becoming disgraceful, worthless, and worthless.
He becomes an example of an animal mixed with his flock and does not know what his fellow beings are doing, what the nightingale is chirping, why other birds are making sounds, what honeybee is making, and what the fly is picking.
Except for eating grass, he does not know, “Why has Allah made the garden?” Why has the flower bloomed? Why are the winding branches of grapes peeping, and what the jasmine is watching?
The most significant loss in prejudice is that he cannot acquire any skill and expertise unless removed. Training and prudence, culture and humanity, everything vanishes, and it becomes even more poisonous when it appears in the veil of a religious misnomer. However, religion and prejudice have no relationship. To destroy man, the biggest weapon in the hands of Satan, is to put into one’s heart: prejudice in the attire of religion and introduce this angel of darkness as the angel of light.
Therefore, my request to my brethren is that our Allah is very merciful, a great judge, a true truth lover, and He knows the secrets of our heart. He recognizes our intentions, so we have to be firm with remarkable truthfulness but shun the prejudice, which is a bad quality. All humankind are our brethren, and we have to love all and deal with everyone truthfully. Furthermore, our natural duty is to be true friends of others and wish good for everyone. We ought to follow this principle in letter and spirit.”
(Anwar Sidiqi, Intiqab-i- Mazameen Sir Syed, pp85-90)
Translator is a Sr. Lecturer in Economics. Abbas42@rediffmail.com