Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Principles of Life | Al-Risala, May 1988

On board the Delhi-Hyderabad Indian Airlines flight 439 on January 20, 1987, the usual announcements were made, from which I gathered that the name of the pilot in com­mand was Captain Mustafa. This name was new to me, although I was a regular passenger on Indian Airlines flights. It clearly indicated that Muslims were now being recruited to India’s airlines as well as to other prestigious services of the country. This seemed to me to be a great step forward – the result of a major effort to overcome the general backwardness of their community.

This is highly significant in the context of the Indian Muslim leaders’ proclamations to the world at large, that young Muslims are regularly kept out of good jobs. It hardly seems fair to go on in this vein without presenting both sides of the picture. If, in certain instances, Muslim youths are denied good jobs, the other instances of their being recruited should also be brought to the attention of the public. Con­stantly claiming that Muslims are necessarily at a disadvantage is certainly unjust, given the changing pattern of national opportunity.

I agree, of course, that for every ‘Mustafa’ who has been taken into service in this country, there is another, less fortunate ‘Mustafa’ who has been turned away. But I object to this being called discrimination. This is simply one of the realities of our highly competitive world. It is a matter of historical fact that for any human progress to take place, the competitive element is an essential ingredient in any social set-up. As a spur to improvement, competition must play its part be­tween individuals and societies alike. After all, observation of animals confined in the safety of zoos, where all of their requirements are provided for them, has shown that they sink into indolence and lethargy, and only regain their zest and vigour when ‘rival’ animals are introduced into their cages. Human beings are no different in this respect, for it is only when they are confronted by rivals that they strive their utmost to fulfil their potential.

In many situations in life, there must be a winner and a loser. The moment such a situation is termed communal, however, an atmosphere of bitterness and protest is generated. If, on the other hand, we simply call it human rivalry, it will be seen as an instance of obedience to a law of nature. There will then be no grounds for ill-feeling and the destructiveness which this can engender.