In one of the older issues of the bi-monthly Fountain, which is a magazine focusing on intellectual and scientific thought, I came across with a beautiful article titled “The Power of Literature” written by Turkish scholar Fethullah Gulen. Since the article’s topic is literature, its importance has lasting nature. Therefore I decided to bring this article to your attention.
So what is literature in the understanding of Fethullah Gulen, who is himself an author to more than 50 books and impressive number of other publications? “Literature is a discipline that studies elegant, measured, and harmonious words uttered or written in verse or prose in a form that is congruent with the conditions of time and usually in compliance with the rules of the language.” That is the way Fethullah Gulen describes literature in general terms. However, he notes, in each culture literature might have different meaning. I think it is very interesting; for example, in Arab language the literature is translated as adab, which is a term associated with good manners, gentleness and perfection. Each nation or culture brings its own nuances and interpretation to literature and thus the literature as we have it today is a result of synthesis and interactions of various ideas, thoughts, meanings and understandings.
Fethullah Gulen on Literature
Today’s literature has come through a long journey lasting for centuries and millennia. The literature was born when humanity learnt to put the speech in the written form. Speech has reached its today’s level of maturity by being continuously distilled through different “filters of thought” and shaped by “masters of word” and then transformed into the discipline which we call literature. In this respect, Fethullah Gulen argues, the present literature is brighter than the past and the future literature will be or, at least should be, brighter than the present. However, Fethullah Gulen states, the future literature will thrive if architects of thought and masters of language do whatever they can to protect and honor the power of expression.
Have you ever wondered how literature comes into existence as a written work? Fethullah Gulen describes the process in a very interesting and beautiful way. “A writer of verse or prose who pens his or her thoughts with literary considerations always relies upon a purpose and overtone; using a rich vocabulary, harmonious statements, and a grand style, writers activate words, long and short, aiming for excellence of expression. While moving toward this aim, writers place all the words or sentences they have picked and fitted in their places in such a way that they all sound out like notes serving to support the general theme of the tune they play. As these sounds and notes voice their intended ideal, they continue to play in the background, reflecting the author’s mode of thinking, general tendencies and mood.” Indeed creating the literature is a mysterious and complex process which finds its inspiration in the very soul of the author.
So why the literature is so powerful? The literature has an immense power since it serves as a tool through which the accumulated knowledge, thoughts and ideas are passed from generation to generation. As Fethullah Gulen says, “it does not make any difference whether the subject of a piece of literature is religion, an idea, philosophy, or doctrine; literature is one of the most important ways that humans can transfer the accumulation of knowledge they have gained through history from one generation to another. Through it they can sense all the depths and richness of yesterday in the present. They see the past and present as two dimensions of reality, and savor the future in its relative depth.” Thus the literature is instrumental in shaping of values, norms, knowledge, believes, attitudes and characters of the generations to come.
I think that this article is very valuable and thought-provoking and hence should be read by everyone who is interested in literature, in the way it works and in the way it serves the development and progress of humanity. Please click the following link to read the original article: http://www.fountainmagazine.