Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

The Indian writer Khwajah Hasan Nizami (1878-1955) once wrote an article in Urdu entitled "Story of a Fly." In it he complained to a fly about the bother it caused people. "Why don't you let us sleep in peace?" he remonstrated. "The time for sleep and eternal repose has not yet come." the fly replied. "When it does, then you can sleep in peace. Now it is better for you to remain alert and active." This little exchange shows that if one, remains open to admonition, one will find a lesson for one's life even in such mundane events as the buzz of a fly. If one's mind is closed, on the other hand, then not even the roar of bombshells and artillery fire will be able to break through its barriers. Only the tempest of the Last Day will bring such people to their senses, but that will not be the time to take heed: that will be a time for retribution, not constructive action. The Qur'an tells us of one who is admitted to paradise bringing before God "a sound heart" (26:89). There is a saying of the Prophet to much the same effect. "Whomsoever God wishes good for," he said, "He instructs in religion." Looked at together, these statements show that God's greatest blessing to a person is an open mind and a sound, receptive intellect that sees truth for what it is. Such a mind is free of complexes: it is able to form opinions in a free and unprejudiced spirit. A sound mind does not take long to absorb any truth, or take in any lesson contained in the world at large. The universe is like spiritual sustenance for such a mind, which develops and thrives by deriving nourishment from what it sees, feels and hears in the world around it. Signs of God are spread all over the universe. In some places it is rocks and inanimate matter that provide a pointer to some profound reality, in others it is "flies" - menial objects - that sound out a message for man. Sometimes God enables one of His servants to call his fellow men to truth in plain, spoken language. In all such instances it is one who has opened his mind to truth who will find it. If one is not receptive to instruction one will gain nothing from all the signs that are scattered throughout the world. An open mind derives instruction even from a "fly", while not even divine revelation and prophetic teachings can break down the barriers of a closed mind. There is nothing that can take the place of a receptive intellect. One who remains open to instruction will look on the whole world as living proof of divine realities. One who goes through life with a closed mind, however, is like a beast who hears and sees all, but understands nothing.

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