Thought For The New Year

Children’s Own Page

Editor:- Mohammad Yaqub Khan


 Dear Children,

Whenever a Muslim sets his hand to anything, he does so with the words, Bismillah-ir-Rehman-ir-Rahim, i.e., In the name of God, the Rahman and the Rahim. At least he is expected to do so. This you all know very well, I am sure. But has it ever struck you what the idea underlying this is?

The common idea is that these words are like the enchanted words of open sesame which, as the tale goes, opened, as soon as uttered, the iron gate to the rich treasures. Likewise, Bismillah amongst the Muslamans is, generally speaking, taken in almost exactly this sense. If there is something hard to do, just say Bismillah, and by some supernatural intervention the thing is done. You may not have the least notion of your subject of study but as soon as you sit for the examination, utter this magic word Bismillah and you begin to do your paper in some unexpected manner. And so on and so forth. Whenever a Musalman finds himself in a fix, he thinks this open sesame, the Bismillah is sure to extricate him. This is the popular notion. Bismillah has become a magic word.

There is no magic in Islam and such a notion is superstition pure and simple. If you have been idling away your time and energy the year round, Bismillah in the nick of time will not help you. Such a mood or mental frame is, in fact, just the opposite of what the Bismillah itself means. Bismillah sums up a most profound truth and the best of practical wisdom. And if properly understood and acted up to, it does doubtless work as an open sesame, not in a magical manner, but along the common course of nature.

Rahman is the attribute of God which looks to all our needs and requirements and supplies these as a free gift. For instance, our eyes, ears, hands, feet and other faculties are so many free gifts of God. Likewise, there are innumerable things in the external Nature without which we cannot exist, such as air, sunshine, water and so forth. These too have been supplied free. These are the free gifts of Rahman. Life with all its achievements is possible only because Rahman has laid at our door a vast treasure of natural resources. But for iron and coal, for instance, which are Nature´s gifts, there would have been nothing like the present mechanical civilization.

But God does not want us to be doing nothing and having a ready-made dish served us every time we feel a relish for it. That would be crippling us, in body and in mind. Man is required to struggle for existence and through such struggle, he exercises his various faculties of body, head and heart and thus develops these. What is this modern civilization but the result of such effort on the part of man. Man, thus, delves into the forces of Nature, subjugates them to his will and converts this planet into a Heaven. Without such strife and struggle, labour and effort, he would have led a semi-barbarian life of the woods and jungles. This attribute of Providence who has so fixed things as to necessitate effort of the right sort on the part of man in order to achieve a certain end, is expressed by the word Rahim.

Rahman and Rahim are thus the two indispensable keys to success in any sphere of life. Rahman fills us with the hope that whatever we may aim at, Nature has got it in abundance in store for us. This optimism is the first step on the road leading thereto and having found it, tread along it. Thus these two words sum up the whole struggle for existence.

Hence it is that when a Muslim begins anything, he is supposed to do so with the names of Rahman and Rahim. Rahman is the guarantee that everything he wants is possible of achievement. The word impossible, Rahman reminds him, is not in the dictionary of Nature. Work thus begun, in a spirit of hope and confidence, is, in fact, half-done. Then comes the other half. Rahim brings the sacred gospel of labour, toil, effort, work, strife, struggle, if we must win. No pains, no gains, we are plainly and bluntly told. Thus equipped with this double outlook on life, the outlook of hope and work, a Muslim is supposed to face his daily life and success is bound to kiss his hand.

Let this therefore, be our outlook on entering this new lease of life for another year – 1930. Let us start in the name of Rahman and Rahim, or in plain words – Hope and Work.

The Light 5  –  January 8, 1930