Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | The Times of India, New Delhi | November 28, 2013
I was invited to deliver a lecture in Kashmir. The venue was an open place. In front of the stage, stretching before us, we could see the great Himalayas. The topic was ‘Shukr’ – Being Thankful to God – referring to bounties given to us by God. I asked, “If an angel comes to you and says, ‘The whole of the Himalayas will be turned into gold and given to you on condition that both your eyes will be taken away,’ will you accept this offer?” A senior in the audience stood up and said with great sincerity: “What is the use of mountains of gold, if we don’t have eyes to behold them?” Responding to him, I said, “It means our eyes are more precious than mountains of gold.”
Every individual is blessed with numerous such precious bounties in nature which are given by God; yet seldom would you find a person who acknowledges this fact and offers gratitude to the Divine from the deepest recesses of his heart. This is because we tend to take divine blessings for granted.
It is the culture of ingratitude that has ruined people’s sense of morality. If you are ungrateful to God, you will be ungrateful to man as well. Gratefulness is directly related to moral values. A society lacking in gratitude is also bereft of moral values. People have failed to thank God for the countless bounties He has bestowed on them. Consequently, they have failed to express gratitude towards man, and this has resulted in erosion of spiritual and moral values in society.
When you receive a benefit from someone, you say: “Thank you!” But, in terms of spirit, we see no result. It is a tragic situation that the ‘thank you’ culture exists in form, whereas the spirit of the ‘thank you’ culture does not exist in the real sense. Our society can be likened to a jungle of hate: no well-wishing, no compassion or sympathy for others, and no fellow-feeling. The reason is that the present ‘thank you’ culture is nothing more than lip-service or mere social courtesies.
One of my friends, Rajat Malhotra, recently boarded a bus in Delhi. When he got down, he was shocked to find that his mobile phone was missing. The next day he gave me the good news that he had been able to retrieve all the data of his phone through the internet. He told me this as a normal piece of news, without any sense of acknowledgment. I told him that it was super-news. In ancient times, it was not possible even for kings to recover what they had lost.
This was the miracle of modern technology, and technology is a contribution of modern civilisation. And, civilisation was developed after a long process of human endeavour. It means that the whole of humankind was involved in developing such useful technology. Everyone is benefitting from the technology produced by civilisation, an explosion of which has brought us great bounties.
Acknowledgment leads to gratefulness which is a source of positive thinking. Positive thinking results in all kinds of positive human values like love, patience, honesty and compassion for all.
We need to develop our thinking in such a manner that we recognise divine bounties and the contribution of humankind in creating a civilisation that is beneficial to all. It is this culture of thanksgiving that can save our society from falling prey to immorality.