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The life force

A creeper growing in a courtyard once had the misfortune to have its roots and branches buried under mounds of earth and rubble when the house was undergoing repairs. Later, when the courtyard was cleaned up, the owner of the house cut away the creeper, which had been badly, damaged, and even pulled out its roots so that it would not grow again. The whole courtyard was then laid with bricks and cemented over.

A few weeks later, something stirred at the place where the creeper had been rooted out. The bricks heaved upwards at one point as though something were pushing them from below. This appeared very strange but was dismissed as being the burrowing of rats or mice. The riddle was solved when some of the bricks were removed, and it was discovered that the creeper had started growing again, although in a sadly distorted form.

As it happened, not all of its roots had been pulled out, and when the time of the year came around for them to grow, life began to stir within them and they pushed their way up through the cement to the sunlight. It is one of nature’s miracles that these tender leaves and buds, which can be so easily crushed to a pulp between a finger and the thumb, can summon up such strength as to force their way through bricks and cement.

The owner of the house then regretted having attempted to take the creeper’s life. He remarked, “It is just as if it were appealing to me for the right to grow. Now I certainly won’t stand in its way.” And saying that, he removed some more bricks so that it would grow unhindered. In less than a year’s time, a fifteen-­foot creeper was flourishing against the courtyard wall at the exact point from which it had been so unceremoniously ‘uprooted.’

A mountain, despite its great height and girth, cannot remove so much as a pebble from its flanks. But these tiny tender buds of the tree can crack a cemented floor and sprout up through it. Whence such power? The source of its energy is the mysterious phenomenon of our world called life. Life is an astonishing, ongoing process of this universe—a force which will claim its rights in this world, and, even when uprooted, it continues to exist, albeit dormant, at one place or the other and reappears the moment it finds the opportunity. Just when people have come to the conclusion that, because there is nothing visible on the surface, life must be at an end, that is just when it rears its head from the debris.

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan is an Islamic spiritual scholar who has authored over 200 books on Islam, spirituality, and peaceful coexistence in a multi-ethnic society.

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