Saturday, August 8, 2009

Reality Vs. Imagination

Al-Shuara (The Poets)
Chapter 26: Verses 224-226

"As for the poets, only those who are lost in error follow them. Are you not aware that they roam confusedly through all valleys, and that they say what they do not do?"

A person with a well-defined message who wants to see it implemented in people's lives has a totally different perspective. He has an objective, method of action and a line to follow. He goes along his line, pursuing his method to achieve his end, keeping his heart and mind open and alert. He will not accept myth, or be satisfied with visions and dreams. He is only satisfied when his message becomes a practised reality in human life.

Thus the methods of God's Messenger and poets are poles apart. The two can never be confused. Poets follow their own moods, whims and desires, which means that they are followed only by those who similarly roam about confusedly with whims and passions, having no defined objective or clear line. Moreover, poets pursue every feeling, idea or statement according to that which takes hold of them at any particular moment.

Furthermore, poets say what they do not do, because they live in a world made of their own imagination and sentiment. They prefer such an imaginary world to real life which does not particularly impress them. Hence, they exaggerate and claim things that they themselves do not fulfil. Thus, what they say has no reality in practical human life.

Since Islam is a complete life system, devised for implementation in real life, and since it has a strong bearing on people's conscience and on all aspects of life, it is by nature incompatible with the overwhelming majority of poets. A poet creates a dream in his own world and feels content with it. Islam, on the other hand, wants the dream to become a reality and works for its implementation. It transforms all feelings so that they work together to produce in the real world a perfect model for humanity.

Islam wants people to face up to the facts of life, and not to escape to an imaginary dream. If the facts of life are unsatisfactory or inconsistent with the way of life Islam wants people to implement, it urges them to change these aspects so that they can pursue its way of life.

Nevertheless, Islam does not suppress poetry and art altogether, as some people may take the statement to mean. It simply disapproves of the line followed by poetry and art, giving full rein to uncontrolled whims and reactions, as well as fanciful dreams that absorb the energy of the dreamers so that they cannot fulfil them. When the human soul adopts the Islamic system, and interacts with Islamic values, it produces poetry and art while working at the same time to see its noble feelings realized in practice.

It is perfectly possible for the human soul to achieve an Islamic objective, looking at life from an Islamic viewpoint, and at the same time express all this in poetry and art. In such a situation, Islam approves of poetry and art, indeed encourages poets and artists.

Compiled From:
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 13, pp. 98, 99

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