Ministry of Awqaf & Islamic Affairs :: Our Need for an Islamic Literary Theory
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Our Need for an Islamic Literary Theory

In the world we live in, there are two social currents each of which seeks with great effort to spread its power in the world and to resist the other current; these currents are the Socialism current, which the Soviet Union and China both raised its flag, and the Capitalism current lead by the United States of America and Western Europe.

After these two large social currents comes a cult of intellectual, philosophical, and literary fronts which appeared in Europe and America more than in the Soviet Union due to the fact that individuals have certain freedoms other civilians from the Soviet Union were deprived from.

The most highlighted of these fronts are: Existentialism, Naturalism, Realism, Arabism, and Symbolism.

These intellectual and social fronts resorted to literature, from which it obtained a weapon to defend itself, and a platform to announce its principles and goals from, and an example which illustrates the similarity of its people, until “Stalin” said that “Literates are the Engineers of Humanity”.

Neither front was mistaken for relying on literature to spread its principles and promote its beliefs. Each word has its own irresistible magic and literature has a power that does not invade or affect the mind, or form sentiments or direct behavior.

Didn’t Islam rely on word to mouth to spread the calling and plan it in the hearts of Muslims?

Wasn’t the Miracle of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) illustrative?

Didn’t a large number of powerful Arabs embrace Islam because of the Holy Qur’an and its unique ability to make tough hearts lenient?

Did Allah Al Mighty not describe the kind word in his Holy Book by saying: “Seest thou not how Allah coineth a similitude: A goodly saying, as a goodly tree, its root set firm, its branches reaching into heaven, (24) Giving its fruit at every season by permission of its Lord? Allah coineth the similitudes for mankind in order that they may reflect, (Ibrahim, 25).

As a result to these social currents and intellectual beliefs, a clan from intellectual beliefs arose with firm origin and fixed rules.

If we take a close look at these social currents and intellectual beliefs, we would find that they have all been derived from life and humanity. Most of the existing intellectual front leaders in Western Europe and America believe in individuality and freedom of the people which is unjust, and it is spread to an extent where they go unpunished, and the people are given a chance to spend money in a way that leads to exploiting others, and doors are opened for them to reach filthy richness which corrupts the relationships between people and spreads aggressiveness and hatred between them.

They see that it a human right, and an expression of himself and affirmation of his existence.

On the contrary, Socialists however believe in individual collectivism, and that the individual is but a small part of a huge universe. They see that the representative group in the clan and country have the right to impose its authority on the individuals to the extent that it can determine the job each individual undertakes, and it also imposes its thoughts and ways of life.

We are not about to discuss the beliefs about life and humanity because they are all – in our eyes the Muslim Community – wrong and against the natures of life and humans. 

However, we would like to ask about the millions that embraced Islam that spread over a large part of the world stretching from the Atlantic Ocean from the West to India to the East, and they believe in the divine look to humans and the universe and life; what is their relation to this field? What literary belief do they belong to?

Don’t they have the right to follow a distinctively divided literary belief, with clear objectives, in order to express their perspective about humanity and the universe, and clarify their faith in their Creator, and determine their attitude towards life and the Final Judgment Day, and to take this as a chance to spread their beliefs and present useful and enjoyable literature to humanity and their faithful generations which leads to them feeling the warmth of faith, and feeds their minds with bright intellect, good guidance, and they are devoted to its glamour and beauty and pureness. Its guidance is above this ridiculous literature that is spread in newspapers every morning.

Muslims today are in need of a methodology, now more than ever, for our Islamic Literature, because in this era we are subjected to intellectual, spiritual and civil attacks we have never seen before.

Original objective literature is one of our strongest weapons to fight these attacks, and to stand before this sweeping current.

Modern Islamic movements gave Islam and Muslims other alternatives; if they were not able to achieve political gain in the governing field, they were able to give Muslims intellectual gain in the field of clarifying the origins of Islam and clarifying its position and attitude regarding many modern cases, and revealing their power to absorb the new developed life, and to stand up to their enemies who exist everywhere.

These movements, however, forgot or pretended to forget that the calling to Allah is not limited to scientific research, and methodology research, and reasonable arguments alone, rather they also need to provide their principles as highly literary solutions to the people, which are accepted by them with open hearts and consent. 

This is an issue that our ancestors became aware of and a weapon they used wisely. History tells us how the Muslims mastered the use of this weapon and in a way that did not affect the people.

For example, in Al Qadiseyeh, Saed Bin Abi Waqqas gathered the readers and those who have opinions and chivalry men and rescuers; however, he did not only gather them rather he also gathered the poets and preachers, including: Al – Shammakh, Al – Hatee’ah, Ows Bin Ma’za, Abda Bin Al – Tayyeb, and he pushed them into the fields of battle and before he sent them out he told them: “Go and do upon others what is right upon you and them at the points of despair…You are the Arab poets, and its poets and those who have opinions and rescuers and leaders, so march with the people, remind and urge them to fight, so they marched with them.”

The preachers and poets continued with the Muslim battalions arousing their feelings, reciting their poems, and strengthening their determination.

Saed took charge of this great literary campaign during which he ordered one of the readers to read Al- Jihad chapter from the Holy Qur’an (all Muslims were learning it) so he read it to the battalion that came after him, and it was read in each battalion; the hearts and eyes of the people became weak and they found peace from reading it.

In the era of the blessed Prophecy, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) used literature to achieve victory in Islam and its legislation, defend the Muslims and their Prophet, praising their victories and lessening defeat.

The two literary arts that were well known to our ancestors are poetry and the art of public speaking, so they were used in the most expert manner.

I am sure that if they had been aware of these new modern arts, they would have used them to spread their calling to the furthest level.

Unfortunately, our Islamic literates in the modern era abandoned the modern literary arts, and went after poetizing and writing articles, and preparing research thinking that there is alienation between stories and plays that reaches the extent of abandonment.

Our literates failed to know that the Holy Qur’an used novelistic art to achieve its noble goals and it was based as a successful method for guidance and teaching lessons.  

Our Islamic literates took away this novelistic art because of their tight bond with the Holy Qur’an, and their consistent stand of providing great samples of stories.

Only Allah knows the extent of the disaster that happened to Islamic Literature because of this abandonment, or the loss that befell the Muslims because of it.

Our public and private libraries were forced during the second half of the century to include thousands of stories, and translations, which were incredibly popular among our boys and girls, and they were deeply affected by their poisons; it corrupted the morals of many, and their faith became insecure, and they followed the paths that please the enemy and saddens the friend. 

It is time to return to ourselves, and to recruit the energy of our talented youth to break through this field, as there is still a place for us to stand on, and there are still benefits that call for pure literature. 

We, our scholars, our scientific and literary institutes, and our literates that care for Islam and its people, must realize that if we do not fulfill the needs of believers based on a pure literature which feeds our faith, then it must search for itself for another literature from another source that has filled the world with affects that corrupt the proper nature and breaks down precious morals, and spreads fornication in the hearts of the believers.

The readers’ acceptance of modern literary arts, especially stories or novelettes or plays, must open our eyes to this dangerous weapon used by evil to plant its roots in our nation’s life and it must motivate us to take away this weapon and place it in the hands of well-doers that are able to use it in good ways of fidelity and kindness.

We heard many callings from the platforms to boycott pornographic magazines and stories, however, these heralds failed to realize that these evils are not fought against by speeches they give from platforms, or a cry of condemnation they cast out in gatherings, rather it is achieved by positive and constructive work. It is a far greater good to light one candle of goodness for yourself against cursing the darkness a thousand times.

If we want to face this grand invasion of perverted and devastating arts which spread libertinism and dissolution between the people, this is not achieved by denying it or avoiding it, and is not achieved by yelling or wailing – as Dr. Nabeel Al-Keelani said – rather it is achieved by positive and constructive work by confronting the literature that we desire with the literature that we do not desire.

In brief, we are obligated to provide an alternative to the people, and we must be sure that this original and good alternative will be accepted by most people, because people in their nature follow goodness. When we call for Islamic Literature which is far away from the spirit of the era and deals with modern Muslim cases, we do not want to turn our backs on our ancient Islamic Literature rather we want to derive from it.

It is our right to decide that our ancient Islamic religion had impressively fulfilled its message in the past, as it stood up tall since the beginning of Islam and supported the calling, and it continued over history to face the corrupt situations, and stood up to aberrant groups, and purify the advice to Allah, His Prophet and all Muslims.  

Islamic Literature was connected to every era each in its own cases and it merged itself in an amazing way; it was subjected to infidelity and infidels, and took a firm stand for the creation of the Holy Qur’an, and he said his famous words and glorified the Islamic Bravery, and praised the heroes and their stands.  

When the Muslims invaded the homes of Muslims, this literature arouse determination and healed wounds, and congratulated Muslims on their victories, and lessened the affect of defeat on them, and calls for, wants and looks for the continuance of fighting.

His attitude towards the invasion of the Tatars was not less severe than his attitude towards the invasion of the crusaders. If our ancient Islamic Literature explained enough about its ages, problems, cases, and people, it is wrong to ask of it to explain about our ages, problems, cases and people…

It is not logical to expect our ancient Islamic literature to solve our current situations, and this request is as arbitrary as asking for our Modern Literature to solve the situations that will arise after a thousand years.

We are in a mass need of modern Islamic Literature to accompany our lives and express it; we are in need of Modern Islamic Critique to accompany this literature to determine its origin and set out its milestones and accuracy.

Yes, we are need of an Islamic Methodology and to criticize it.

The Preceding Heralds of this Methodology

We are not the first who called upon establishing an Islamic Methodology in literature, rather we pursued the tracks of a well known Islamic cult, and their talented literates. The first to write about this subject and became aware of it was His Eminence Sheikh Abu Al-Hasan Al-Nadawi, when he was chosen a member in the Arab Scientific Academy in Damascus.

Whereas he submitted a research paper about Islamic Literature and caring for it; he was one of the first heralds and the most aware of it. Then came the Islamic and Muslim Martyr “Sayyed Qutob”, he wrote an article about this subject and distributed it in his book “History is an Idea and Methodology.”

He pointed out that there is distinctive literary Islamic presence in this article upon which he called and urged.

The first to respond to his calling was his brother Professor “Mohammad Qutob” may Allah prolong his life, whereas he wrote a book entitled “The Islamic Art Methodology” and his book was the first of its kind about this subject.

The literate Dr. Najeeb Al-Keelani followed him, and wrote a book called “Islam and Literary Beliefs” and he wrote it with an Islamic Literary approach, whereas the book of Mohammad Qutob was purely Islamic.

Dr. Imad Al Din Khaleel followed him and he advanced noticeably in this path when he published his book “In the Modern Islamic Critique” then he proceeded in his steps to complete this subject.

There were many articles and callings to adopt this literature; the Islamic University of Imam Mohammad Bin Masoud was the first to respond to this calling and worked on transferring it from the field of callings and theories, into the field of applying and implementing, so its material was acknowledged in the Arab Language Faculty, and it was made an essential element in the field of rhetoric and critique. 

This material has been popular amongst the students of higher studies; there were four Masters Degrees’ and two Doctorate theses written.

We are hopeful that this material will turn into an independent center for Islamic literature in general and children’s and youth’s literature in particular.

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Ministry of Awqaf & Islamic Affairs - State of Kuwait