CHAPTER viii / Logical conviction and emotional satisfaction

Logical conviction and emotional satisfaction

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Two forces are always active within a human being: the intellectual and the emotional. They have different roles and directions.

The first aims to know the truth, and to identify what is good and beneficial so as to adopt it.

The other records its feelings of pain and pleasure.

A perfect style is that which satisfies both needs at the same time, giving you intellectual satisfaction and emotional pleasure, like a bird flying with two wings.

Do we find such perfection in human style?

We have seen the writings of scientists and philosophers, and works of poets and fine prose and fiction writers, but we find it all tilting to one side or the other.

The former present to us their thoughts in a direct manner, addressing our intellect with the facts, without in any way trying to appeal to our emotions.

Thus, when they present scientific facts, they do not care that they may sound dull and uninteresting.

Poets, on the other hand, try to appeal to our feelings and emotions. They do not care whether what they present is fact or fancy, real or imaginary.

They sound serious when they are jesting, inviting tears without weeping themselves, enchanting their audience without being enchanted.

“Poets are followed only by those who are lost in grievous error. Do you not see that they roam confusedly through all the valleys [of words and thoughts], and that they say what they do not do? Except for those who believe and do good deeds, and remember God often, and defend themselves after having been wronged.”

(26: 224-7.)

Everyone is a kind of a philosopher when he thinks, and a kind of a poet when he feels.

Ask, if you will, psychologists and psychiatrists if they have ever seen anyone in whom their intellectual power is of the same strength as their emotional one, and as all other psychological forces.

If these powers are somehow of comparable strength among a small number of people, do they influence a person in the same way at the same time?

They will all answer you that this does not happen at all.

These forces will only act one at a time.

Whenever any one of them is dominant, the others dwindle into the background, making practically no influence on what is taking place.

When a person is deeply involved in his intellectual thoughts, he does not give much way to his feelings and emotions.

A person enjoying some pleasurable experience, or enduring pain, will not have much time for intellectual thought.

The fact is that human beings do not pursue these two aims simultaneously. Otherwise, they would be going forward and backward at the same time, and this is not possible.

It is just like God says:

“Never has God endowed any man with two hearts in one body.”

(33: 4)

How can we, then, expect a human being to address both pursuits with the same vigour when they do not co-exist within him with the same strength at any one time?

Indeed, whatever we say reflects our mood at the time of speaking.

In fact this is a standard that gives us an idea of the force a writer or a speaker was under at the time of writing or speaking.

If he tries to establish a theoretical premise or a practical method, we conclude that his writing reflects an intellectual mood.

If, on the other hand, he tries to excite feelings, playing on emotions of pleasure and grief, happiness and sadness, we determine that his work reflects an emotional mood.

If he moves from one aspect to the other, giving each one his total concentration, we realise that logical thinking is alternating with emotional feeling within him.

For the same style to maintain both aspects at the same time, like one branch of a tree carries leaves, flowers and fruits all together, or like the spirit permeates the body, or water goes through a green plant, is unknown in human speech.

Indeed, it is incompatible with human nature.

Who, then, can come up with a discourse that presents hard facts in an argument which is well accepted by the most intellectual of philosophers, and combines it with emotional pleasure that satisfies carefree poets?

This is something that can only be achieved by God, the Lord of all worlds.

He is the One who is never preoccupied with something to the exclusion of another.

He is the One able to address the intellect and the emotion at the same time, and to mix beauty with the truth in a way that neither trespasses over the other. These ingredients make up a uniquely exotic and most enjoyable drink.

This is what we all find in His glorious Book, whatever part we read.

Read, if you will, Surah 12, which is devoted entirely to the story of Joseph, or Surah 28, which devotes more than half its verses to the story of Moses.

In both, you find that relating at leisure the details of the story does not lead to any missing out on the moral of the event or a blurring of the lessons to be drawn from the story.

Even in the midst of providing intellectual proof, or outlining legal provisions, the emotional aspect is not overlooked.

We have even in these instances what arouses our interest, heightens our feelings, or even a warning, or a statement of amazement or reproach, etc.

All these are provided at the beginning or the end of its verses, or within them. Hence, the Qur’an is aptly described as the Book that:

“makes the skins of those who stand in awe of their Lord shiver; but in the end, their skins and hearts soften with the remembrance of God.”

(39: 23.)

“This is surely a decisive word; it is no frivolity.”

(86: 13-14.)

Let us now take two examples in support of what we have just said. The first is one that mixes logical proof with emotional address.

Verse 22 of Surah 21 may be given in translation as follows:

“Had there been in heaven or on earth any deities other than God, both would surely have fallen into ruin! Exalted is God, Lord of the Throne, above what they describe.”

Consider how these few words provide logical proof and excite amazement at the enormity of what is alleged. In fact, the evidence given brings together undoubted and fully accepted premises with a vivid description of the ruin that results from an inevitable conflict.

Thus, the evidence is given in a poetic style. Do we ever find anything like this in a book of theoretical wisdom?

The second example is a text outlining legal provisions:

“Believers, just retribution is ordained for you in cases of killing: the free for the free, and the slave for the slave, and the woman for the woman.

And if something [of his guilt] is remitted to a guilty person by his brother, this [remission] shall be adhered to in fairness, and restitution to his fellowman shall be made in goodly manner.

This is an alleviation from your Lord, and an act of His grace. And for him who, none the less, wilfully transgresses the bounds of what is right, there is grievous suffering in store.”

(2: 178.)

Consider how the verse opens with emphasis on obedience reflected in making the address to ‘believers’.

The element of grievance is then reduced between the families of the killer and the victim by using such words as, ‘his brother’, ‘in fairness’, and ‘in goodly manner.’

Then there is a reminder of God’s favours in the statement,

‘This is an alleviation from your Lord, and an act of His grace,’

which is then followed by a warning at the end of the verse. Now consider the subject matter of this verse. It is speaking about duties in a case of killing.

The same applies to all verses outlining legal provisions, including those speaking of strained marital relationships, divorce and other methods of separation.

In what book of law do we find such a spirit? In what language do we find such a mixture?

If anyone tries to make such combination, exerting every effort and straining himself as much as he can, all that he will come up with is a host of contradictions making his writing look like a garment that has been patched up after extensive tears.

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General and clear

This is a unique combination that we do not find anywhere other than in the Qur’an.

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