Teachings of Islam That We Find in Literature

I being a blogger and a literature student naturally feels an inclination towards books. I like spending time in reading and writing but in these past few weeks, while I was busy studying novel and poetry, a change started taking place inside me. I don’t know what to name it but I started asking myself a question that why I am busy spending so many hours pondering over similes and metaphors in my books.

Why on earth I’m studying “Shakespeare” and what am I going to achieve by reading “Miller”?

Were all my efforts meant to get good marks in exams only or were I also trying to learn a thing or two from my books?

I got confused and was in search of some guidance when I came across a beautiful lecture. The lecture was about Surah Rehman and a speaker explained that Allah is a teacher of languages. In fact, Allah is a teacher of all languages because

“He taught him speech regarding whatever had already happened and whatever will happen”. (Verse 4 of Surah Rehman)\

Reading the explanation for the word “Al-bayyan” in Arabic, started changing my mind. The speaker explained Al-bayyan is an ability to speak clearly, it is to understand speech and it’s to communicate.

Subhan Allah, realizing that my ability to read, write and speak in the English language is a gift from Allah Almighty, urged me to go back to my books and start looking them from a new angle.

We all know that Quran is the essence of all knowledge in the world. It seems weird but reading literature took me closer to Allah(SWT) and when I felt pride in being Muslim, I also felt ashamed of finding less time in pondering over Quran.

Nonetheless, while trying to relate the lessons I found in the literature with Islam and Quran, I came up with following interesting points.

1. Jealousy and false assumptions:

Allah Almighty says in Surah Hujrat that

“Oh you, who have believed, avoid many [negative] assumptions. Indeed, some assumptions are sin. And do not spy or backbite each other.”

Just imagine a life when we have nothing to do but only to spy and think in a negative way about others. Developing jealousy for others and thinking in a negative way actually pave a path towards the destruction of man’s soul and mind.

Quran has explained it well for the betterment of human beings and when we study the themes of great and classic literature, we find they’re composed of similar messages which have been derived from the teachings of Islam.

“Shakespeare” through his characters of “King Leontes” and “Othello” in his plays “The winter’s tale” and “Othello” respectively has tried to present a picture of men who falling victim of green-eyed monster of jealousy not only destroyed their lives but lost their loved ones too. In both of these books, the monster of jealousy takes hold of protagonists. As a result, when great tragic hero Othello kills his wife, the king Leontes lost his beloved son.

Avoid developing false assumptions about others and getting rid of green eyed-monster of jealousy, are the two main themes of these plays. It was the time between 1603 and 1623 when Shakespeare wrote these plays and it’s been more than fourteen hundred years that Quran has delivered this message for the whole mankind.

2. Family life and extra marital relationships:

I’ve always admired keeping a quote diary. I take notes and loved writing down my favorite quotes from books I read but despite my efforts to reproduce them through my memory, I need to get back to my diary time and again. And, here is the language of Quran which through its beautiful and powerful narration always stayed with the ones who tried to learn them. Allah(SWT) don’t like the ones who tried to cross their limits

In Surah Baqara, Verse 190, Allah says

“Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors.”

A transgressor is anyone who violates a rule and oversteps a body. No religion and no society ever like transgressors. They are the one who are disliked in society because in their quest of stepping over the boundaries they not only break rules but most of the times they also get enter in the land where no human being but only a man with animal instinct can survive.

Arthur Miller in his play “The Crucible” creates his characters and has penned down a story around this similar theme. It is a play about the witch hunt, there was chaos and fear about the presence of witches in town but the entire disturbance started with the extra marital relationship which the farmer named John Proctor developed with a young girl. This is a story of revenge and hatred that the girl developed for the farmer that eventually lead to overall disturbance in town.

While reading the play and making notes, I found it interesting that how John Proctor’s disturbed family life eventually leads him to find pleasure and solace in others. This is the reason for which the stress has been laid upon the strong family bond in Islam. In Islam, the loving wife and the obedient children are considered the coolness of eyes.
And, when Allah forbids to cross limits described by Him then it is for the own benefit of human beings.

We can find its example in “Adam Bede” by “George Eliot” which is a classic Victorian literature. The writer has developed a character of a young girl “Hetty Sorrel” who in her quest of achieving dreams in her life, crosses her limits and ruins her life.

Another interesting aspect of “Adam Bede” is the comparison between “Dinah Morris” and “Hetty Sorrel”. Dinah was always there for her family and knew their importance in her life while Hetty wanted to get rid of the influence of her family became victim of the lust and greed of young Captain in a novel.

This is the importance of family that not only guides us but also prevents us from many troubles in life and Islam laid great stress upon this institution in society.

3. Hope and Despair:

The genial rays of the yellow sun never cease to show their appearance in prose and poetry. In literature, the sun is a symbol of hope. Metaphors and similes in poetry and contrasts and comparisons in prose depict that after darkness there is light which shows that there’s no need of getting sad and losing hope in life.

In Surah Al-Talaq Allah says

“…After difficulity, Allah will soon grant relief…” (Verse 7)

In literature, the sun, moon, birds and trees are symbols of hope. We’re asked to observe our surroundings and to ponder over minute details in nature. The great literary work depicts this beauty of nature and when “William Words Worth” writes his poem the “Daffodils”, he actually praises Allah Almighty for beautifying this world with lovely colorful flowers.


Hemingway’s novel “For Whom the bell tolls” opens with these lines by “John Done”

No man is an island,
Entire of itself
Each is a piece of the continent
A part of the main

Hemingway has included these lines for a purpose. As his hero died in the end the writer wants us to remember that we human beings are all connected. This connection is also a reminder that death is our ultimate end and if someone dies today then most probably tomorrow is going to be our turn.

This is the reality of human life which reminds me of this verse from Surah Al-Ankaboot

“Every soul shall have a taste of death in the end to us shall you be brought back.”

Knowledge is from Allah and He is the one who has taught us to speak and write. I’ve tried my best to explain the concepts in literature through the teachings of Islam.

May Allah give us the zeal and enthusiasm to read and practice the teachings of Quran(Ameen)

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1 Comment

  1. Junaid Ali Malik says

    An outstanding piece Madeeha! It is worth reading.

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