Summary of Jaihoon’s speech at Darul Huda Islamic Academy (Chemmad, Kerala)
At a previous reception in Sharjah, the biggest fear for my mother was whether I would be speaking in Malayalam! Therefore respecting her feeling and sympathizing with my friends seated here, I shall opt to speak in English.
May I first admit that I am not a student of literature. I am merely sharing a few thoughts from my literary adventure. It was only yesterday that I was contacted by your English Club to attend this event. Therefore do bear with my less-prepared speech.
I feel honored to speak at such an institution which is unique of its kind in the country. You too should feel blessed to be enrolled here and ought to thank Allah to be under the guidance of visionaries like Ustad Dr. Bahauddin.
My first visit here was in 1999 during the making of MeraWatan which I later incorporated into my novel . I arrived here soaked in rain and was received by Ustad Dr. Bahauddin and was shown the library, the computer lab and was given a lavish hospitality.
Friends, I request you to pay good attention as I will ask five listeners from among you at the end of my speech to come up here and clarify your doubts from what you heard. The success of my message lies in your understanding.
We all embody the truth expressed in the verse ‘I blew into it (man) of My Soul’ (Holy Quran). Our talents- be it in our body or intellect- is a blessing from Him. And for the very same reason it is our responsibility to use it in His Way.
I suggest to my brothers seated here 4 steps, modeled after a Quranic prayer, how to successfully implement your creativity to yield better results.
We have to pray to him to sharpen our talents and to broaden our thoughts. This is the intellectual aspect.
Thereafter we have to request Him to make the task easy for us. This includes the mastery of the medium in which one is involved. For example, the canvas for an artist, books for an orator, pen and paper for an author etc. This is the practical aspect.
We have natural shortcomings which hamper our creativity. Habits like impatience, anger and intolerance soil our talents. They tie ‘knots’ over our senses! And this is where Satan plays his game spoiling the accomplishment of our goals. Therefore the third prayer is release us from such knots.
Finally we have to present our ‘product’ in a language ‘they’ can understand. Speak in a contemporary language.
Remember my dear brothers that each is granted only what is in his capacity. Moses begged Lord to see a glimpse of Him to which he received a simple answer “you cannot see Me”. This was because the liberator of Children of Israel had asked for a favor which was beyond his capacity. The Creator did not use the words “I am not seeable”. But in the case of His Beloved, the Lord invited him to His Throne and revealed ‘whatever he revealed’. And the Beloved saw it all with a smile whereas Moses fainted by a mere ray of His Light! Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam.
However ask Him for always the best. But don’t tell Him what is the best. The definition of best is His domain. Don’t wish just to be another MT or Basheer. Who knows there are more heights than them? You have to aspire to be great, not just a good artist. “If good batsman contributes to the game, a great batsman changes the course of the game”. Your mission should be to change, not contribute, to the flow! Remember the verse I quoted in the beginning.
Literature is the intellectual reflection of life and it is natural for the belief-system to influence the thinking of the writer. Never believe those who say otherwise! And languages (differences in your tongues) are, in the objective words of the Qur’an, among the signs of the Creator. Each of them reflect the diversity of His Creation. They show his Wisdom and Might. And therefore each language is holy and should be respected.
However, languages also inherit local influence of the people who speak them. That is why we have Malayalam vocabulary shaped after Dravidian culture, Arabic by Islam and Hijazi lifestyle, and English by biblical and western thoughts. To be more elaborate, we have hundreds of words in Arabic for the Arabian animal Camel, while a single word in Malayalam to call it!
Yet, may I remind you that what is important is that you deliver your thought in any language/s your reader can understand. Do not restrict the color of your thought just because one language does not possess the vocabulary for it. Use as much as foreign words you want. Do not be scared by the cultural heroes of Kerala who police the rest of the budding writers. Seen from their eyes, Vaikom Basheer, one of the all-time legends of Malayalam literature, would have committed the greatest injustice to Malayalam. Go through his works and count the number of loan words!
Be not shy to use the language of heart. Distract not yourself with the norms of East or West. Your emotion is a human emotion, not particularly Christian or Muslim or Buddhist emotion. Affinity between your work and the reader in any part of the world is sure to be established simply because they too are humans. I can boldly say this from my experience with Jaihoon.com. Seen from such an angle, globalization is a blessing to communicate human emotions and consequently bring about the unity in the hearts of mankind.
I leave you with a sincere advice to make the best of your time. And Time will not be so sweet in your future life as you find it during your student days. Now when you are left with hours to perform something, the outside world will demand the same work within minutes.
I thank you all for patiently bearing with me. It is now time for Dhuhr prayer. And I have to leave soon as my wife is waiting to pick her from the University.
Jaihoon presenting a copy of Henna for the Heart