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The Arab culture crisis

Yusuf Awadh Al-Azmi
Yusuf Awadh Al-Azmi

SITTING with intellectual and cultivated people has a unique scent that the soul loves due to the benefits someone can get — whether in literature, poetry, reading or listening to some prose, stories and narratives which make you feel as if you are sitting in a lofty literature parlor.

Sitting in such an atmosphere, even for some minutes, adds something to your cultural account. At least, the time spent there is not considered a waste of time.

I remember when I once sat with intellectuals — that is what they describe themselves — wishing to get some literary inspiration for my next article, but it turned to be a disappointment as the so-called intellectuals used foreign words more than Arabic words.

The use of foreign terminologies overwhelmed the session which could have been an insinuation of showing off or indication of cultural abundance. Nevertheless, foreign words governed the session as every sentence contained foreign words, if not expressions.

As I was listening, I remembered the teaching of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on examples of good company and bad company. The Prophet (PBUH) compared walking with good company to walking with someone who sells perfumes, while walking with bad company is akin to walking with someone who blows the bellows… It was then that I started feeling as if I was sitting with bellow blowers.

Definitely, I was not sitting with perfume sellers. All that was happening before my eyes was the Arab culture crisis, rather the Arabic literature crisis. Long gone are the days of our prominent authors and men of letters such as Raafi’e, Al-Manfalouti, Shawqi and others who lived in the beautiful era.

It is necessary for Arab intellectuals to hold the awareness and enlightenment torch in order to spread light in all corners of dissected Arab nations, given that reading is sometimes more important than bread while education is the most important and the desired plan to start in this respect.

Ignorance is widespread in the Arab world. It has reached a point that the pretext of searching for daily bread is considered most important. We are in the era where the profession of a plumber is more important than specializing in Arabic language.

We have reached this point with the help of deserving intellectuals who decided to isolate themselves from the meaningful scene for one reason or another. They left the arena for pseudo-intellectuals thriving on television screens, where even the intellectual women focus on showing their beauty more than their intellectual capacity.

Arab culture and literature are in dire need of a new ‘Arab Cultural Spring’ — the type of revolution which removes rust inflicted on our culture by giving more generous support and effort to revive and spread proper cultural and literal heritage. This is in addition to investing on those who deserve to hold this important torch of our existence.


By Yusuf Awadh Al-Azmi

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