Written by Sir Syed in Urdu: ‘Mohazib Quomon Ki Paeravi’
A child follows his senior fellows; less intelligent people follow those they consider more intelligent; and uninformed people follow those they think are more informed. Similarly, the uncivilised nation needs to follow the civilised nation, necessarily. However, sometimes, this is followed so blindly that instead of benefiting, we incur losses. And to the extent we are uncivilised, we turn to be indecent.
When an uncivilised man joins the company of a civilised nation, he finds them excellent and perfect in all respects. He hears praises for them everywhere but observes their bad habits, too; for example, drinking of alcohol, gambling, etc. Hence, this person takes these habits as their achievements. He neither acquires the goodness and achievements among them nor tries to achieve them. Instead, he learns the bad habits prevalent among them quickly.
The person’s mistake is that he considers their faults as achievements. It is because of some other achievement, ability, and goodness which they process, and because of some other excellent qualities which they have achieved, that they are called civilised and decent. Undoubtedly, many bad things of the civilised people get concealed due to many of their virtues, and people hardly notice their bad things. However, those bad things do not become a skill, but evil remains evil no matter whether it is prevalent in a civilised nation.
We should remember that a nation might be excellent and civilised, but the evils prevalent in it are not its virtues; instead, that is the deficiency in its perfection that we should not follow. If a handsome man has a pimple on his face, we should not create a similar one to look handsome because that pimple is not his handsomeness but rather the loss of his handsomeness. In such a situation, we should think that he would have been more handsome if that pimple had not been on his face.
We undoubtedly motivate our fellow citizens to follow a civilised nation; however, we expect them to follow those qualities which made them respectable, honourable, and civilised. We do not expect them to follow those qualities which are a defect in their perfection.
For that very reason, when we see that our nation has followed a civilised nation in its excellent qualities and habits, it provides us great happiness. And when we hear that our nation has followed bad habits like drinking alcohol and has turned into a complete drunkard, learned gambling, we feel extremely sorry. We hope that our nation will learn excellent deeds and will always consider evil as evil.
[from Anwar Sidiqi’s Intikhab Mazameen Sir Syed (pg. 91-93)]
The translator is a Sr Lecturer in Economics. [email protected]