The Story about the Different Opinions
In a certain country no one had ever seen an elephant. The
first elephant that was brought to this country was from
India. It was placed in a dark building where one could not
see the dark colored elephant. Many viewers came along to see
the animal. They were allowed to touch the elephant and then
draw conclusions as to what is an elephant. According to the
part of the elephant they touched, they drew their conclusions
and in this manner, each one had a different opinion.
The one who touched the ears of the elephant
exclaimed, “It is like a huge fan.” The one who touched its back
exclaimed, “The elephant is like a platform”. The one who
touched its leg exclaimed, “No, you are all wrong. This is like a
pillar”. The one who touched the trunk of the elephant said,
“According to my opinion, this elephant is long and hollow
In this manner, all of them had different versions of an
elephant. Maulana Rumi (Rahmatullah Alaihi) now says that if
they had a lamp in their hands, all these differences of opinion
would have disappeared.
“If everyone of them had a lamp in his hand, They would all
have been safe from differing”.
These days there are many differences of opinion
regarding the concept of Allah Ta’ala, Messengership,
Prophethood, the aim and object of life on earth and the
resurrection. Many people, in this darkened world,
independent of the light of revelation try to understand the
links between the worldly life and the life of the Hereafter.
They try to understand the relationship between the Creator
and His creation solely through reason. They are all like the
people mentioned in this story. Not one of them will be able to
reach the truth.
One blind man, whether he tries to tread the path on his
own or by following another blind man, in both cases, will head
towards destruction and be deprived of reaching the required
destination. If the traveler and the guide are both blind – no
matter how many they may be, the sum total will still be
blindness. Hence, to understand the reality of things, logic and
reason alone is not enough. The Light of revelation is also
required. In the story all those who touched the elephant, were
rational beings, the only thing missing was light. Thus,
Muslims should not look towards men of science and
philosophy to research the affairs of the Hereafter and fix the
object of human life on earth. Those men of science and
philosophy lack the light of revelation and as such, they will
conclude that man is just a machine which manufactures feces.
They will conclude that the object of this life is merely to eat,
drink and defecate – nothing else.
The light to which we refer is Divine Revelation, it is the
Holy Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad
(Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). The very light which was
revealed in the Cave of Hira, fourteen centuries ago.
May Allah Ta’ala protect us from any modern light.
“O new light, may your face be blackened.
In your heart is darkness and your outside is enlightened”.
Ma’aarif- e -Mathnawi