Independence Day advise to Indians: Be self-reliant

By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | TOI Blog | August 15, 2020

On 15th August 2020 India celebrates its 74th Independence Day. In an advisory the Home Ministry has asked the states to avoid large congregations, webcast the events and spread the theme of ‘Aatma Nirbhar Bharat’ announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a self-reliant India.

Contemplating on the issue I thought what truly makes us independent? I realized that making oneself self-reliant is the beginning of becoming independent. Self-reliance means to rely simply on one’s own efforts and abilities, without depending upon external help, without asking anyone else for anything. Islam believes in this principle. In a tradition, Prophet Muhammad asked his companions: “Who will pledge to me that he will never ask anything of anyone?” Thauban (one of his companions) replied that he would; and from then on, he truly never asked anything of anyone.” (Musnad Ahmad, Hadith No. 22406) Self-reliance means to try to meet one’s own needs by developing oneself to such an extent that one not only is able to support oneself, one’s family but also to extend a supporting hand to the less fortunate members of society. How does one become self-reliant? It is a fact that God has created man with unlimited potential. Potentially, every man is a superman and every woman is a superwoman. What is required is an insatiable desire to turn this potential into actuality through one’s own efforts.

Success is not a gift. It is the result of your own striving. Everyone is born with some unique quality, and success depends upon discovering it and then utilizing it with sound planning. If you want to be a super-achiever, first of all you have to recognize your own capabilities and then make constant effort on your own to actualize it. Then success is always within your grasp.

Unfortunately this is the one thing that man is not able to achieve. Psychologists have estimated that man puts to use only ten percent of the abilities with which he is born. Professor William James of Harvard University has very aptly observed, “What we ought to be, we are not ready to be.” In spite of the inborn qualities nature has endowed us with the successes, which should have been ours in this world keep eluding us for the simple reason that we continue to wait for others to give us what we need. When we do not receive from others, then, discontented, we put the blame on others for not giving us our due.

We should remember that it is inside ourselves that we should look if we are to find the reasons for life’s deficiencies. This principle is given in the Quran in these words: “whatever misfortune befalls you, is due to what your own hands have wrought.” (42:30)

Whenever a misfortune befalls us, we should not blame others but, by a process of introspection, we should pinpoint our own shortcomings, which is the real cause of our misfortune or problems, and then attempt to rectify them through our own efforts. What we should not do is nurture feelings of hatred and revenge for those one holds responsible for one’s misfortunes. This only increases one’s own suffering. Constantly viewing others with envy and a sense of grievance will lead us nowhere, and can turn us into our own worst enemies. Our own shortcomings should be faced fairly and squarely, then we should introspect and plan a strategy to overcome our shortcomings. In this way we will be able to unfold our potential.

Life is full of challenges. For this we need to face constant challenges. Every disadvantage is a challenge—poverty is a challenge, difficulty is a challenge, an unpleasant situation is a challenge, even being born with a disability is a challenge. All these challenges are blessings in disguise. These challenges are responsible for maintaining our creativity. They give us the ability to make challenges into stepping stones to progress. Then we can think, re-plan and through our own striving exploit our own potential to the full that we shall meet with success. This is the only way to become truly self-reliant and independent.

If India is to become ‘Aatma Nirbhar’ then my advice to each and every Indian citizen is to make effort to become self-reliant so as to make India truly independent.