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  • Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

The Law of Conversion

Mistakes play an important role in a man’s life. If an individual does not make mistakes, he becomes intellectually stagnant.

The whole of the physical world functions by the law of conversion. Everything in this world is an example of this. Certain chemicals when combined convert into water, nutrients in the soil, plus water and sunlight, are converted into plant life and grass is converted into milk by the cow, and so on.

The same is true of human beings, for the law of conversion is also applicable to human actions. How is this so? This comes about as a consequence of following a law of nature. When one commits a bad deed, it instantly affects one’s conscience. It activates a process of rethinking about one’s behavior. This rethinking leads to acknowledging one’s mistake, and this in turn leads to self-correction. Thus, a bad deed is converted into something good.

Moreover, this process is not purely mechanical, but one of active re-assessment, which stirs up the entire workings of the mind, so that the faculties that were hitherto in a dormant state now come to life. This leads to creativity and further intellectual development. Ultimately, a new personality emerges.

When man is born he is like ore – in a raw state. Potentially, ore is steel, but for this raw material to be converted into steel, it has first to go through an industrial process. Only after this process has been completed does the ore emerge as steel. And, then with further processing, it takes the form of various kinds of machinery. The same is true of man. Man is born with great potential. But turning this potential into actuality likewise requires his undergoing a process – a psychological process. What activates this process is having experiences which give him a rude awakening. Some such experiences could be the committing of bad deeds, which, for an awakened mind, can be traumatic. But a bad deed is not just a bad deed. It is, in fact, like a wake-up call or a psychological challenge. For a morally aware person, his bad deeds become the kind of challenge that leads to all kinds of spiritual and intellectual development. So from being a bad person, he is converted into a good person.

Mistakes play an important role in a man’s life. If an individual does not make mistakes, he becomes intellectually stagnant. Mistakes, in terms of their results, give a person a creative mind. For a human being, such a process is indispensable for intellectual development, and also for a person who is lacking in moral fiber to be converted into a worthy individual.

This law of nature gives us a great lesson. When you make a mistake, do not take it as a negative experience. Take it rather as a process of nature. Nature wants to activate your thinking, so that your state of mind, if formerly uncreative, is now blessed with creativity. In all human progress, it is this process that is the most effective. Samuel Smiles (1812 – 1904) has rightly said: ‘We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success.’

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