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LIVING IN A PLURALISTIC SOCIETY

Word For Peace

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

A pluralistic society is defined as a place where different religious, ethnic and cultural groups
live together. But this kind of definition is not correct. The fact is that pluralism is a law of
nature. Every society is a pluralistic society, even every family is a pluralistic family.

Studies show that every man is Mr. Different and every woman is Ms. Different. Therefore,
any accumulation of humans, be it of the same culture or of different cultures, is bound to
exhibit differences in tastes, habits, ideas, likes, dislikes, and so on.

What should be done in such a situation? How to establish normal relationships and live in
peace with those who are different from you? How should one establish harmony in society
or family?

The answer to these questions is only one: Learn the art of difference management rather
than the art of eliminating differences. When difference is a part of nature, you cannot
escape from it. The Creator Himself has created people with differences. At the same time,
He has created us in such a way that no one can live as a self-sufficient being. Every man
and woman is bound to live in society, which is an interdependent entity. The saying, ‘Man
is a social animal’ is quite right.

The only problem is that people take difference as a disadvantage rather than an advantage.
The fact is that difference is a great opportunity. It is difference that is responsible for all
kinds of human progress. If there had been no differences, the world would have not
developed at all.

Take difference as a positive phenomenon and it will become a boon for you. Difference is
not an evil, it leads to discussion and dialogue. And, open discussion and dialogue lead to all
kinds of intellectual development. When two ideas clash, a third idea emerges. Take
difference as an intellectual challenge, and it will certainly turn into a blessing for you.

There is a well-known saying: ‘If everyone thinks alike, no one thinks very much.’ This saying
is based on the law of nature. Uniformity is against the scheme of nature. And, going against
the law of nature will certainly lead to disaster in this world.

Welcome difference with a positive mind, and you will certainly be able to turn your
difference into a steppingstone towards success.

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan is an Islamic Scholar and founder of Centre for Peace and Spirituality International.

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