POETIC ASPECTS OF THE MATHNAWI AL-'ARABI AL-NURI
There is nothing making difficult the concept of poetry as defined by Qudama b. Ja'far (260/873-4-327/938-9); in fact it is as clear as the drawn sword. Quda-ma said: "Poetry are words in rhyme and metre indicating some meaning."1 This definition is based on the outward form of poetry and the jewel within it has been ignored. Although it is the most widespread definition of poetry, leading scholars of both former times and the present have not favoured it or agreed with it. One of the oldest sources illustrating this is the following anecdote related by 'Abd al-Qahir al-Jurjani about Hassan b. Thabit (May God be pleased with him):
"One day, 'Abd al-Rahman b. Hassan turned to his father, Hassan. He was weeping. He said: 'A bird has pecked me!' Hassan told him: 'Chase it away!' His son said: "It was as though it wrapped itself around my garments." But it was a hornet that had stung him. Whereupon Hassan exclaimed: 'In truth, my son spoke poetry!'"2
As 'Abd al-Qahir al-Jurjani pointed out, Hassan observed the poetry in his son, 'Abd al-Rahman, or his innate feeling for it. It is true he declaimed nothing in metre and rhyme, but his poetic simile was very fine.
Rhyme and metre cannot help someone without a poetic soul. Hassan's response on a poem by 'Amr b. al-'As being read to him illustrates this: "'Amr is not a poet, but he is very skilful."3 We can see the same thing in Ibn Salam's (139/873-4-231/8545-6) comments on some verses by Ibn Ishaq: "This is not poetry; at the very most it is a composition in rhyme."4
It is well-known that Hassan b. Thabit and 'Abd al-Qahir al-Jurjani are the oldest masters of poetry, holding the most distinguished place in the field.
Muslim philosophers have dealt at length with this subject. One of these was Farabi, who said: "According to scholars of former times, the essence of a poem is its consisting of words that are in harmony with themselves and with the subject of the poem. It is not necessary for its other aspects to be equal to this, for they are secondary matters adding value to the poem. The matter of greatest importance is the subject of the poem, and the least important, the metre."5
Farabi distinguished between poetry and oratory: "The compositions of the majority of poets of a particular level who utter persuasive words in metre, are thought by most people to be poetry. But they are oratory, in the accordance with the method of oratory."6
In one of his works, before mentioning Qudama, Ibn Rashiq (390/1000-456/1064) adds "purpose and intention"7 (qasd wa niyya) as a new element. In another place in the same book, he defines poetry in a way that alludes to its content, saying:
"The reason poets are called poets is their comprehending things that others are not aware of. If a poet does not express a new meaning or find new things or extract fresh meanings from a word, the name of poet for him is metaphorical, not real. All he has done is to say something in metre, which in my opinion is not a virtue but a fault."8
Ibn Khaldun says nothing different to this:
"Words in the 'arud metre are in fact words in rhyme and metre. What I mean by poetry conforms neither to the structure nor to the appearance of this. The arts they employ in poetry are i'rab (pronunciation of the case endings), balagha (rhetoric), metre, and particular forms. In my view, this has no value. Therefore, we have to make a definition to express the truth of this matter. We say: poetry is an eloquent composition based on metaphor and description, united in all its parts in respect of metre and rhyme, each part of which is independent in respect of aim from the parts preceeding and following it, in conformity with the styles particular to the Arabs."9
As is seen from this, Ibn Khaldun starts with eloquence, metaphor and description, then mentions the other elements like metre and rhyme.
Critics and philosophers have taken different sides in this dispute between 'verse' (nazm) and poetry. For we can find verse which contains nothing poetic like the versified 'addresses' we noted above in the quote from Farabi. We could compare these with poetic writing which bears no characteristics of verse.
The position of contemporary Western critics on this matter is not remote from this. T. S. Eliot lays not unconsiderable stress on the value of music in poetry, the sound of it. He says that through the sound, the first meaning may call to mind the second meaning.
We may have understood by now that the poetic quality may be found in compositions that are not in verse.
al-Jahiz stated that it is impossible to translate poetry. For such an attempt "would negate the structure of the metre."10 And I say that poetry that has lost its poetic quality through translation does not deserve to be called poetry. Yet we read Jalaluddin's Mathnawi, al-'Attar's Mantiq al-Tayr, and al-Khayyam's Ruba'iyyat, and despite our reading them in translation, we feel that the poetic feeling has not been extinguished.
Thus, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi was a poet in this sense, despite not having put his writings into verse.
"Bediuzzaman had the soul of a poet, a subtle spirit, a yearning heart, and a sensitive conscience. He possessed all the qualities of a 'great poet.' Yet he did not write poetry. That is to say, what he wrote was not versified in the way that what poets write is versified. But even if in his work called the Mathnawi what he wrote is marked by the characteristics of prose, its spirit is poetic. Besides the profundity of the ideas and subtlety of the meanings, it is full of expressions that please the ear and spirit."11
So what are the factors underlying this quality, despite its lacking some of the elements of poetry?
If we keep in view all that has been said so far, discussion of the poetic qualities to be observed in the Mathnawi al-'Arabi al-Nuri assumes great importance. We shall approach the question by way of comparison with Jalaluddin's Mathnawi. This is anyway the aim of our paper. Success is only from God.
* * *
In discussing Bediuzzaman Said Nursi's approach to the poetic aspects of any piece of writing, it will useful to point out that his Mathnawi contains numerous critical looks at poetry and literature. At the same time, the work contains many original passages that the reader will be able to grasp without hesitation or encountering any great difficulty. This is particularly true of the spiritual supplications he includes in his treatises. Generally at the start of them he makes something like the following statement:
"The pieces in this Second Station resemble poetry, but they are not poetry; they were not put into verse intentionally. They rather took on that form to a degree due to the perfect order of the truths they express."12
Nevertheless, the pieces following this bear all the characteristics of poetry. Moreover, they are in a form suitable to the taf'ilat metres of al-Khalil, and particularly the rajazmetre. The following, written during just such an "ecstasy of reflective thought," corroborates us in this:
Subhanuhu man yahmaduhu'l-diya bi'l-anwar
Wa'l-ma' wa'l-hawa' bi'l'-anhari wa'l-a'sar
Wa'l-turab wa'l-nabat bi'l-ahjari wa'l-azhar
Wa'l-jaw wa'l-ashjar bi'l-atwari wa'l-athmar
Wa'l-sahab wa'l-sama' bi'l-amtari wa'l-aqmar.
Tulu'lu'u'l-diya' min tanwirihi tashirihi
Tamuju'l-hawa' min tasrifihi tawzifihi
Tufajjiru'l-miyah min taskhirihi tadhkhirihi
Madhsun balighun bayyina li'l-Qadir
Tazayyunu'l-ahjar min tadbirihi taswirihi
Tabassumu'l-azhar min tazyinihi tahsinihi
Tabarraju'l-athmar min in'amihi ikramihi
(The sparkling of the light is through Your illuminating and making it known;
The rolling on of the ages is through Your despatching and employing them;
Glory be unto You, how mighty is Your rule!
The flowing forth of the rivers is through Your storing them up and subjugating them;
The decorations of stones is through Your designing and fashioning them;
Glory be unto You, how sublime is Your wisdom!
The smiling of the flowers is through Your adorning and beautifying them;
The embellishing of fruits is through Your bestowal and munificence;
Glory be unto You, how beautiful is Your art!
The carolling of the birds is through Your making them speak and Your avail;
The singing of the rain is through Your causing it to fall, Your bestowal;
Glory be unto You, how vast is Your Mercy!
The motion of the moons is through Your determining, Your planning,
Your rotating them, Your illuminating them;
Glory be unto You, how brilliant Your proofs, how dazzling Your sovereignty!)
This fine piece of reflective writing is thus written in the rajazmetre. In addition it displays a colourful sound from the varieties of rhyme. Is this not an example of writing in the taf'il metre, or of the tanghim13 style, known as free verse. Bediuzzaman did not accord them the degree of poetry; that indeed should be thought of as modesty, should it not? Having said all that, I cannot keep myself from attempting to apply them.
It is logical for literary critics and writers to limit the concept and nature of poetry, to describe the elements of poetic writing and make clear its characteristics and define their position. From their point of view it is naturally necessary that the points to which they attach importance should be conformed to. But it is also true that most of those who achieved an exceptional depth of understanding and revealed various truths have been neither critics nor literary figures in the true meaning of the words. Some have been philosophers, some Qur'anic commentators, some historians, and some sociologists. If we look at the works of the Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and of the Muslim scholars Ibn Sina, Ibn Rushd, Farabi, Tabari, Abu Hayyan al-Tawhidi, Abu Hayyan al-Andalusi, Ibn Athir, and Ibn Khaldun, and at the works of those who were influenced by them, we shall see how true this is.
We may deduce from this that if we consider Bediuzzaman's view of poetry and of the theoretical and applied aspects of poetic writing, we shall not have put forward something new.14
As the works he wrote show, Bediuzzaman was a writer, thinker, scholar, and literary figure of broad and profound ideas. He approached many matters as an expert, considering things with a view peculiar to himself in which imitation had no part. He touched on a number of literary questions, bringing to them a new point of view, and allowing his readers to experience a new pleasure. He left behind him an encyclopaedic work of great depth which deals with the pillar of the literature of belief (al-adab al-imani), and is unprecedented in many respects.
It would be extremely difficult to describe all the literary points Bediuzzaman makes in his Mathnawi, so we suffice with discussing a number of questions it is necessary to grasp for a full understanding of his view of poetry.
The writer and the Qur'an
The Holy Qur'an is God's Book, the wonders of which cannot be refuted and the like of which it is impossible to produce. It is a miracle in respect of its manner of exposition. It continues to be a literary source of such stature that no literary figure has been able to produce anything resembling it. Whether earthly or heavenly, this literary characteristic has continued down the ages. Whether Muslim or members of other religions, numerous literary figures have been influenced by it, having reached out to its broad horizons, plunged into its bottomless seas, and have drunk to repletion from its productive rains. Lose yourself in the innumerable literary works that the Muslim scholars have left behind them on the Qur'an's miraculousness. Then see in astonishment how it has affected world-famous writers: the Russian Pushkin, the German Gœthe, the French Victor Hugo, and many more. The Qur'an as though bewildered them, and they proclaimed its greatness with all their strength. The following lines by Gœthe, from 'The Book of the Cup-bearer' in his 'Diwan of East and West,' are a good illustration of this:
Ob der Koran von Ewigkeit sei?
Darnech frag'ich nicht!
Ob der Koran geshaffen sei?
Das weiss ich nicht!
Dass er das Buch der Bucher sei,
Glaub ich aus Mosleminen-pflicht.15
(Is the Qur'an not pre-eternal?
I know nothing of this!
Or is the Qur'an created?
I don't know!
But it is the Book of Books!
That is how I believe in it, like the Muslims do.)
It was Bediuzzaman's firm conviction that the Qur'an was the beginning and the end, and he stressed this at every opportunity. This is to be clearly seen in his literary point of view. The enormous influence of the Qur'an on his literary view and broad understanding is to be seen in many places. An example is this:
"Know that for as long as I live I shall say as Mawlana Jalaluddin (quddisa sirruhu) said:
"Man bande-i Qur'anam, agar jan daram;
Man khak-i rah-i Muhammad mukhtaram."
(So long as I have life, I am a servant of the Qur'an;
I have chosen to be the dust of the way of Muhammad.)
"For I see the Qur'an to be the source of all effulgence. If there are any virtues in the truths in my works, they are from the Qur'an's effulgence. Therefore, my heart is uneasy unless I mention the qualities of its miraculousness in my works, even if it is only the briefest mention."16
For a writer to profit from the Qur'an, he has to identify himself with its spirit, reach out to its luminous climes, and attain to its aims and purposes. Likewise, he has to draw back the veil before the wondrous worlds the Qur'an has revealed and gaze upon them. He should not get waylaid by the outward qualities of the eloquence.
"But to come to the matter that the Qur'an has left unsaid with its fair pronouncements: Yes, the writers of mankind with their fancies and imaginings have in a way contrarily to its statements, only attributed to the Owner of the Throne a few of the embroideries of the order and some of the meanings of the principles of this magnificent palace called the universe, and its well-established laws and gilded stones and flowered trees; the rest of those heavenly stars they have divided among the dwellers of the earth through the deceptions of the conjuction of minds....
"It is from the Qur'an's looking at the degrees of what is necessitated by thousands of 'stations' and gathering together within its styles all the meanings which reflect the feelings of those it addresses; and it is from the Qur'an passing over seventy thousand veils and penetrating the very depths of spirits and hearts, and with its sacred address journeying over the classes of mankind, spreading its light and affording familiarity; that every age man fully understands the Qur'an and admits its perfections... That is to say, that mighty book is not something ethereal, slight and superficial; it is rather a brimming sea, an effulgent sun, a profound and subtle book."17
The writer and society
As was seen above, literature is a strange mirror showing what lies behind the outward appearance of things, that the Divine truths may be manifested. Thus, what the writer has to do, as a moral duty, is to present his message clearly and whatever the circumstances conform to reality. In no way must he deviate from this or make his writing a means to deviation. For then literature brings society a great evil as well as bringing it guidance. It is not right for a writer to limit all his efforts to liberty and deliverance from bondage. For society has rights over the writer. It is therefore not permissible for the writer to neglect these rights. For all writers are like the hostages of society. We do not even want to think of a writer who ignores the facts about society. His most important duty is to be the ear of society, alert to the dangers and contagious diseases threatening the country. Since it is thus, is it acceptable for writers who have emerged in Islamic countries among Muslims to show lack of respect for the marks of Islam and beliefs of the Muslims? Bediuzzaman calls out to such writers as follows:
"You have the right to display humility about yourself and repentantly proclaim your faults. But you certainly have no right to smear Islam with your ravings which are the opposite of the marks of Islam and opposed to them.
"Who made you their deputy? From where did you receive the fatwa? Where did receive the right to publish your delirious ravings about Islam in the name of the nation of Islam, proclaiming your misguidance? Do not suppose the nation and Islamic community are misguided like yourself! To whom are you trying to sell your misguidance? These are the lands of Islam, not of the Jews. To announce something in the newspapers that the mass of believers do not accept, is calling them to misguidance; it is a transgression against their rights."18
Word and meaning
The 'word' (lafz) and the 'meaning' (ma'na), or 'letter' and 'spirit,' is one of the most important questions considered by critics of former times. It has been included in just about all the reliable books of criticism. This is true of all such works written from the second century till the present. An example is Jahiz, who was one of the first in this field, and discussed these matters in most of his works. However, some of those who read his works without sufficient attention imagine that there are contradictions in some of the things he writes, claiming that sometimes he attaches more importance to the words and sometimes to the meanings. Whereas that is not the case at all. It is one of the marks of Abu 'Amr to mention the qualities of a word in one passage, and to describe in detail the beauties of a meaning in another. The impatient, or those not as patient as Jahiz himself, consider these to be contradictory. However, many sayings attributed to Jahiz are in current use, most of which have been misunderstood or about which forced interpretations have been made. In the following sentence, Jahiz says that meaning is a truth scattered on the road: "Meanings are truths scattered on the road in a way that Arab and non-Arab, nomad and villager, will understand. Their mark is the presence of metre, the choice of words, ease of pronunciation, fluency, soundness of nature and excellence of arrangement."19 One of the scholars of former times who expounded Jahiz's writings and tried to brush off the crumbs of doubt from him or that were supposed to be thus, was 'Abd al-Qahir al-Jurjani. He explained what was meant by 'word' in Dala'il al-I'jaz in particular. In his view, the word was an isolated concept devoid of value. The property of verse that made the nature of the word progress, transformed it from being a hidden world broken off from its surroundings into a world connected with other worlds. This connection assisted in its gaining an existence pertaining to itself, rather than to others.
Critics have used a simile among themselves, which they formulated with the intention of restricting the connection between word and meaning. Ibn Rashiq, a literary critic of the 5th century, said:
"The word is a body, and the meaning is its spirit. The connection between them is like that of the spirit and the body. With its weakening, they grow weak; with its strengthening, they grow strong -like some bodies suffer defects such as lameness, squinting eyes, blindness, and so on, although the spirit dwells within it. The same is true if the meaning is weak although the word is correct and apt. Like suffering from psychological problems despite the body being sound."20
Doubtless, as a person of taste and an exacting scholar, Ibn Rashiq established a sound relation between word and meaning. Bediuzzaman also discussed this relation. Only, he saw some deficiency in the much used metaphor of meaning as spirit and word as body, or thought it did not illustrate the truth completely accurately, for he offered another metaphor, inferring criticism of the above:
"The words of a literary piece are not its body but its clothes. And its meaning is not its spirit but its body. Its life is the intention and emotion of the speaker. While its spirit is the meaning breathed into it by the speaker."21
The above passage shows that the above-mentioned metaphor has been altered and a number of additions made. The alteration is the word being signified by clothes instead of body, and meaning being signified by the body instead of the spirit. The addition is intention and emotion being the reason for spirit being breathed into the text; that is, the meaning being non-existent before the intention. In modern criticism this is called 'the meaning intended by a passage.' For if the intention is not understood, the piece will remain closed on itself, and aas a result will take on an unintended form. In which case, the message related from the speaker to the one addressed will be lost. For the elements necessary for conveying it will not be present.
If we come to the metaphor being altered by Bediuzzaman into the form of the reality of a body, doubtless the body is everlasting, not transitory. For beings were created for eternity, not transience. True transience does not exist:
"It is understood from these disposals and works of God that the resurrections of the vegetable realm, and other gatherings together and dispersals in the arena of the earth, are not the prime purpose... These insignificant fruits are sorts of examples and samples the forms and results of which will be dealt with at that great gathering."22
Since the body is eternal, what is transitory is its dress. In which case, there is no reason to describe the meaning as the spirit of the word's body. For
"the meaning does not change on the changing of the body, its remains constant. The shell disintegrates, but the kernal endures intact. The dress is ripped, but the body remains healthy and permanent."23
However, the body's continuance does not infer that it is independent of its source. Neither does it infer that it is man's property over which he has disposal as he wishes:
"Your body, which is like your house, is a trust. And you are a guest. Its virtues are all bestowed and its evils all acquired. All you can say is 'His is the sovereignty, His is the praise, there is no strength and no power save God's."24
Since the body is on loan and a trust, meaning too -like the body- is on loan and a trust in the dwelling-place of the body. Thus, this trust is a responsibility loaded on the writer. Only in this can man attain to his true nature and gain true freedom, which is above everything. In this way, he may win the right to bear the title 'lord of all creatures.'
Word and meaning are the two most prominent elements making up speech. But a high level of speech necessitates certain conditions. Bediuzzaman limits the high level of speech, its beauty and power, with four elements: "One is the speaker, another is the person addressed, another is the purpose, and another is the 'position' (maqam). Its source is not only the position as literary people have wrongly shown."25 If we ponder over this question, we will see that modern criticism is not based on these four elements either. A piece of writing does not of itself possess any character just by not containing obscure and various elements. On the contrary, these elements expand its limits as far as "Who said it? To whom did they say it? Why did they say it? In what form did they say it?'26 A piece of writing comprises a particular thesis and proceeds from a speaker (mursal). It also has the one addressed (mursal ilayh). And a thesis cannot only be completed by its purpose being understood. We may list these as speaker, one addressed, thesis, purpose.
The nature of a literary piece acquires form within the limits of these four elements. If one of them disappears or appears in different form, the thesis put forward will be exposed to disorder. If a piece expresses a command or prohibition, it reflects will and power in relation to those of the speaker; it receives strength from his strength and elevatedness.27 With respect to this, some structuralists reached the wrong conclusion and began declaring "There is nothing except the writing (al-nass)," and quite simply pronounced the death of the author. At the same time, they remained ignorant of the reality of the writing. For undoubtedly, writing does not consist only of a collection of words.
There are relations in a literary piece between the words, grammar, composition, and allusions. The four elements discussed above have also to be taken into consideration. For when they are not present, a piece becomes like a ship which has unfurled its sails to the unknown. Although it seems as though the structuralists killed the author, what it actually means is that they killed the piece itself. For the existence, effectiveness and indication of a piece may only be realized through the 'speaker,' 'person addressed,' 'position,' and 'purpose.' Even if the speaker and one addressed do not change, the piece changes on the purpose and position being different. The latter two may be the same, but the mental state of the one addressed at the time plays an important role in limiting the direction and purpose of the piece. An example is the following Hadith, in which the Prophet (PBUH) said: "Don't perform the afternoon prayer until you reach the country of the Banu Qurayza."28
If the speaker and the one addressed change, then they change places. The versification (nazm) of a piece does not change so long as the words do not change. And mostly on the changing of the one addressed, the indication to it also changes. Scholars of rhetoric have drawn attention to a point here and have discussed certain aspects of rhetoric. They discovered that the indication also changes with the change of speaker and one addressed. In this way they distinguished between the true matter and the metaphorical one, including in the form (ssigha) of the metaphorical matter such things as supplication, entreaties, and orisons. The piece then attains its true place through the speaker.
"Take, for example, the verse: O earth! swallow up your water. And O sky! withhold [your rain] (11:44). That is, 'O earth! Your duty is completed, swallow your water. O skies! No need now remains, cease giving rain.' And for example: And He said to it and to the earth: Come together willingly or unwillingly. They said: We do come [together] in willing obedience (41:11). That is, 'O earth! O skies! Come whether you want to or not, you are anyway submissive to my wisdom and power. Emerge from non-being and come to the exhibition-place of my art in existence.' They replied: 'We come in perfect obedience. Through Your power, we perform every duty that You have shown us.' Consider the power and loftiness of these true, effective commands, which comprise power and will, then look at words of men like the following nonsensical conversation with inanimate beings: Be stationary, O earth! Be cleft, O skies! O resurrection, break forth! Can the two commands be compared? Yes, is there any comparison between wishes arising from desires and officious commands arising from those wishes, and the command of a commander of real authority? Can there be any comparison between the above words and the effective command, 'Forward march!' of a mighty commander of a vast army?"29
With this depiction, in comparing the Creator's word and that of His creatures, Bediuzzaman also offers an excellent piece of descriptive writing and makes it easily accessible to the reader:
"How can the angelic, living words of the Qur'an, which inspire the lights of guidance and are the speech of the All-Glorious Creator of the sun and the moon, be compared with man's biting words with their bewitching substance and sham subtleties for arousing base desires? .... Indeed, how can the words of the Qur'an, which are each the shells of jewels of guidance, and each a source of the truths of belief and a spring of the fundamentals of Islam, and have come directly from the Throne of All-Merciful One, and above and beyond the universe, look to man and descend to him, comprising Divine Knowledge, Power, and Will, and being the pre-eternal address, how can its words be compared with man's vain, fanciful, futile, desire-nurturing words?"30
Bediuzzaman's discussing poetry and the things connected with it like letters and qasidas impels us to once again consider the questions of poetry and its qualities. If the poem was true, he attached more importance to it as a whole, passing over its particularities, or he at least set about investigating the realities of existence from the particularities. Bediuzzaman is therefore a conscious poet. He also considered poetry in depth.
Some of his wording may seem dry to other poets. But someone who studies him more closely will be able to place him among real poets, distinguishing between them and the purveyors of fancies who suppose themselves to be poets. How can his words, which in their intensity proclaim their poetry, be thought of as dry? On the contrary, from just about every passage the droplets of poetry flow forth.
Poetry and extra-ordinariness
Bediuzzaman considered poetry to be something out of the ordinary. "The poet's view extends beyond the horizons of ordinary people; he is a person who bows before the vastness and beauty of the universe."31 For this reason, poetry has great importance. The poet always strives towards the extra-ordinary. But generally, carried away on such poetic marvels and chasing after them, they are pitifully defeated. "Poetic descriptions of the extra-ordinary are for the most part ordinary."32 For example, if we glance at well-known names of Arab poetry and compare their cries and descriptions, we shall easily be able to see the difference between them. In their view, poetry has to express awesomeness and extra-ordinariness. One of them said: "Poetry today is writing that is not ordinary or general. If it has to be defined, doubtless it is extra-ordinary."33
What Adonis is stating here is what Bediuzzaman discovered at least half a century ago, is it not?
To come to the stage of application, what can we obtain from the leading modern Arab writers? Nothing apart from cold, soulless words. There is no doubt that nothing extra-ordinary may sought from them. At best their poetry consists of meaningless fancies and senseless chatter. This demonstrates the peak of impotence. If what we are seeking is extra-ordinariness, we have to come as close as is possible with the poetic tongue to the realities of existence. How can someone who always bows to the idols of custom and makes himself captive to their sins reach anything beyond the ordinary? How can a person who is observedly limited and bound to this world, -in keeping with the observation "Arab poetry today is firmly fastened to this world so that it may be described as 'earthly poetry,'"34- break through the chains of custom and catch hold of elevated poetic qualities? Extra-ordinariness from the poetic point of view can only be produced by someone sufficiently powerful to rend the veils covering this worldly life and so discover the essential truths within it. Otherwise he will be condemned to a limited view and will be unable to see such truths. Just like the example given in the Holy Qur'an: They know but the outer [things] in the life of this world; but of the end of things [the hereafter] they are heedless (30:7).
Those heedless of the hereafter are at the same time heedless of the reality of this world and its inner face, which is tied to its outer face. It is in no way possible for such people to attain to extra-ordinariness. At the very most they can feel a desire for it.
The truths connected with extra-ordinariness are belief in motion, action and change; and to a small degree, tranquillity, constancy, and imitation:
"Change occurs in things known as contingent. That is, their qualities and states change. Being idle due to arrest and the absence of activity is a sort of non-existence for something contingent. And non-existence is terrible suffering and pure non-existence. There is, then, a pleasure in activity. Qualities and states also change, and even if the suffering and grief arising from this change are in one respect ugly, they contain also several aspects which are beautiful."35
Thus, true poetry gives importance to universals and is concerned with particulars only if a way to the universal is found in them. The best form of exposition is that which avoids detail, only alluding to it summarily through hints or signs. The Qur'an's manner of exposition is thus. It tends to vagueness in the sense of conciseness, and does not look favourably on detail.
"If you ask: 'Why does the All-Wise Qur'an not speak of beings in the same way as philosophy and science? It put some matters concisely, and some it speaks of in a simple and superficial way that is easy, does not wound general feelings, nor weary or tax the minds of ordinary people. Why is this?'... The ordinary people, who form the most numerous class, want guidance which is concise with unnecessary things beings vague, and which brings subtle things close with comparisons, and does not change things which in their superficial view are obvious into an unnecessary or even harmful form, lest it causes them to fall into error."36
Poetry and discovery
Modern writers state that the thesis of a poem is "the discovery of a world that needs discovering."37 This truth was also stated by Bediuzzaman a long time previously, who said that the essence of poetry should be discovered and revealed. But what discovery and revelation is this? This is where the paths diverge. The sea quite simply divides into two, with fresh, potable water on one side, and undrinkable salt water on the other. In Bediuzzaman's view, with his comprehensive attributes, "the aim of man's creation is to discover and display the hidden Divine treasure, and to be a transparent mirror to the manifestations of pre-eternal beauty through being a proof and evidence and translucent place of reflection of pre-eternal power."38
By reason of his humanity, the poet is called on to be a revealer and discoverer. The means of poetry are means of discovery and revelation. His tongue is "the tree of words."39 See, what fruits will this tree yield?
Poetry as a mirror
One may speak of the theory of the mirror in art generally, and particularly in poetry. Perhaps it was first Plato who used such a metaphor, in order to illustrate his own theory of resemblances (muhakat). However, art portrayed through resemblances is only third class. An event visible in the World of Archetypes by way of resemblance is reality. And art is nothing other than the similitude of a visible event. In such a case, a likening is done for the sake of it. And so, art and particularly poetry is nothing other than a mirror reflecting the outward appearance of the world of sensory perception, which is distant from the World of Archetypes. This presents us with an unreal form of things. To illustrate this, Plato gives the well-known simile of poetry being a mirror reflecting events. From that time to this, numerous literary schools have used this simile. In one respect, the theory of reflection is no different to that of Plato -however much the material point of departure here is entirely contrary to the theory of the Platonists. In the same way, "You should take a mirror in your hand and point it in all directions; you will be able to depict the sun, all the bodies in the skies, the stars, and even yourself and other humans, and the animals, plants and other beings."40
It is in this way that artists have not succeeded in going beyond reflecting things in their own mirrors, and have put before us not the reality of beings, but merely their outward appearance.
Bediuzzaman, however, in addition to apparently preserving the simile and comparison, favoured a completely different method. In his view, poetry was not an abstract depiction of resemblances divorced from reality; relating the outward appearance of beings without reflecting their inner face was deficient. For this reason Bediuzzaman made poetry one of the means of attaining to elevated truths. If poetry was to be a mirror, it was not to be one reflecting events only, but one in which was manifested Pre-Eternal Beauty and contained deathless reality. If this face of the mirror is nullified or suffers a blow, it will deviate from its path and its function will fall into disuse, and as a result, "the tree of words" will spread out branches everywhere in malign fashion.
"This visible world is a Divine shop and store. Within it are every sort of woven cloth, food, drink, and sherbet. Some are heavy, some are fine, some are perishable, some are lasting, some are solid, some are liquid, and so on. Every sort is found in it."41
If a poet cannot distinguish between the dense and the fine, the perishable and the lasting, and cannot present his poetry as a pure essence, what value does it have?
The worst side of the matter is that in order to save the structure, some non-Muslim modernists have recourse to 'the other' (al-akhar). As though constructing it is not through understanding the structure but by removing it. "In this way, 'the other' is an important element of formation since it is an element of the discovery of knowledge."42 Since this 'other' is powerless to perceive its own structure, how can it be an important element in discovering knowledge? Moreover, there is no need to interpret it in order to understand it. For this reason the above writer (Adonis) says plainly about 'the other': "This originates from the West."43 Let us take a look at the view which sanctifies 'the other' and make a comparison between it and the investigative gaze Bediuzzaman employs when considering things. Having discovered the reality of the connection with 'the other', Bediuzzaman describes poetically its being "the work of the infidel West"44 as follows:
"The difference between the infidels' civilization and that of the believers [is this]:
"The former is a ghastly savagery dressed in the raiment of civilization. Outwardly it shines, inwardly it scorches. Its outer face is adornment; its inner face, filth; its form is familiar, its character, an inverted satan.
"The latter is a beautiful angel which is outwardly light and inwardly mercy; whose inner face is love, and outer face, brotherhood; whose form is mutual assistance and character, compassion.
"As belief and the affirmation of Divine unity (tawhid) necessitate, the believer sees the universe as a cradle of brotherhood; and the bond binding men and especially Muslims together is again only brotherhood. For belief deems all believers to be brothers, like brothers living together under the wing of a compassionate father.
"As for unbelief, it is so chilly it expels even brothers from brotherhood. It sows seeds of strangeness in everything. It makes everything hostile to everything else. If in the patriotism [of unbelievers] there is a brotherhood, it is temporary, and tied to and limited by eternal separation. The virtues and great industrial advances to be observed in the infidels' civilization have all been borrowed and reflected from Islamic civilization, the guidance of the Qur'an, and the [other] revealed religions."45
Bediuzzaman used the metaphor of the sun and the mirror the same as Plato used it, only he described both as prisoners. This stems from the mystery of repetition. There is a great distance between the two. For Bediuzzaman interprets things differently, in respect of the manifestation of their reality. He says:
"There are some foolish people who because they do not recognize the sun, start to love the mirror if they see the sun in it. With intense emotion they try to preserve the mirror so that the sun within it will not be lost. Only on realizing that the sun does not die when the mirror dies and does not pass away if it is broken, does that idiot direct all his love to the sun in the sky.
"O man! Your heart, identity, and essence are a mirror. The intense love of eternity in your nature and heart were not given for that mirror, nor for your heart and self. Your love should rather be for the manifestation of the Enduring One of Glory which is in the mirror according to its capacity; although out of stupidity your love's face has turned somewhere else. Since it is thus, say: 'The Enduring One! You are the Enduring One!' That is, since You exist and are eternal, non-existence and transience can do what they like, it has no importance!"46
Poetry is not some commonplace utterance; it differs from prose. We are not going to enter upon a discussion about which is superior here, but we should point out that literary critics have differentiated between poetic writing and oratory. The difference between these lies in poetry being based largely on imagination and the purpose of oratory being persuasion.47 "For this reason, the most correct view of poetry is not whether or not its introductory passages are true or false; it should be seen as the product of imagination."48
Bediuzzaman stated that the imagination was one of man's most expansive faculties.49 Nevertheless, "the imagination cannot comprehend the intellect and its fruits."50 The scope of the imagination is different to that of the intellect. The imagination cannot be restricted by anything. It has the power to wander about on the outer fringes of the world of the intellect. Since it is unrestricted, it cannot be illuminated in any way, and as a consequence deviates into numerous errors. Because of this mobility -since it cannot be limited- it is not included among the means of perceiving reality. "The truths [Qur'anic] verses mention are vastly more extensive and elevated than the imaginings poetry describes."51 From this is understood the difference between condemned imagination and commended imagination.
"Every sense has its particular worship. To use them in a way contrary to this is misguidance. For example, if a prostration made with the head is for God, it is worship; if it is for something else, it is misguidance. Likewise, the prostrations of love and wonderment the poets have made with their imaginations are misguidance. An imagination that does this is depraved."52
Doubtless, while depicting the way of the Qur'an's guidance with these lines, Bediuzzaman is differentiating between the poets who have been excessive in their imaginings and fallen into misguidance as "those who wander through every valley and say what they have not done," and the rightly-guided poets "who believe, do good works, remember God frequently, strive against tyrants, and reach victory." For they adhere to the truth, never turning away from it. They accept no obstacle to the truth among themselves or between the links of association, which is an element of imagination. On the contrary, they may perceive through their belief in the World of the Unseen and the Manifest World, things that others may not perceive. Here we may recall the four elements of exposition Bediuzzaman put as conditions, and reading the following lines of Nabigha al-Ja'di, find ourselves in the Prophet's (PBUH) presence:
"We have reached the sky with our honour and limits
And doubtless we shall be blessed with passing beyond it."
Apparently, this is excessively fanciful, for the Prophet (PBUH) said: "Where to?" Finding a delicate way out, the poet replied in a way that a poet with no belief in the hereafter certainly would not have answered. He said: "Together with you to Paradise, O Messenger of God!" As a favour to the poet, and in order to emphasize that what he had said was not imagination, the Prophet (PBUH) said: "Insha'llah. Yes, God willing."
Poetry and obscureness53
If exposition is a virtue, poetry and prose are equal in this. As we stated before, poetry has its own particular language to take it to the heights. This language, therefore, cannot always save it from obscureness. But within this obscureness is a transparency that sometimes opens up horizons before you, and passing beyond the manifest realm reaches the World of the Unseen by way of an illumined spiritual purification under the guidance of revelation. Since it is thus, one should not be surprised at some of Bediuzzaman's words being obscure, as he himself did not deny. But in explaining his position, Bediuzzaman gives the reasons for this. He gives six reasons, the most astonishing of which is his addressing his own soul, which he described as cunning, and his giving swift answers to the questions that his soul asks, if only implicitly. Bediuzzaman employed symbolism to a great extent. But as we shall see, he did not make this symbolism a dark cave containing undiscoverable secrets.
The second matter is the fact that symbolism proceeds from the Qur'an. It is because this has been continuously used that its mysteries have been revealed. It is as though it is a way taken by the Qur'an particularly in order to make its effulgences accessible.
The third reason is that Bediuzzaman avoided addressing his readers in flowery language or simplifying matters in order to satisfy them. He attaches no importance to artificiality, which in truth is an evil, although it is imagined to be good by some people. Thus, he kept his soul free of some of the dirt of egotism.
Then, his words are words of the heart more than of the reason. And words of the heart are always in need of establishing a sort of partnership with the conscience, so that the heart may receive pleasure in a way that not everyone may easily do.
On the other hand, Bediuzzaman opposed the familiar styles of his predecessors. The scholars of jurisprudence (fiqh-fuqaha'), the religious scholars ('ulama'), and sufis are equal in this respect. He brought this about by combining the lights of the reason and of the heart in extremely sound fashion. In this, he departed from the way of 'the people of reason,' the scholars of the past, and the way of 'the people of the heart,' the righteous of the past.
Doubtless poetry does not have to give you all its keys or to divulge all its secrets. The pleasure in it will always draw you to discover them. As a result, the pleasure in it will not diminish and will not be comprehended. Just like the example of the sun; its lights and mysteries will never be completely comprehended. Poetry is like a garden. There are trees in it with low branches and high branches. "Are you going to abandon all the fruits in an orchard because you cannot reach some of them?"
Finally, intellectual certainty may be attained only by means of proofs, argument, and demonstration. Spiritual journeying is far from logic, proofs, and reasoning. So one should not be surprised at some of the secrets of poetry remaining hidden because of obscureness.
Poetry and Sufism
Poetry and sufism are like twins. Both are inner struggles to discover the unknown, which is not readily perceived, and rend the veils. In both are the awe and wonder the traveller and poet of this way will encounter. The languages of poetry and sufism are parallel in a way others do not really know. Both contain symbolism, allusions, and signs rather than the address people are generally accustomed to among themselves. But this should not make us say that poetry is "obscure since it is a discovery and vision. It is hesitant and not logical."54 Poetry has to contain its own logic in regard to being discovery and vision, and this particular logic prevents it from being so obscure as to be incomprehensible. In this way a poetic liveliness becomes apparent which is open to interpretation. It may be open to many meanings without the text of the poem being open to interpretation to the extent it puts itself in the background, and without the basic purpose being abandoned.
Poetry and sufism are a form of inner, essential striving that adds a particular pleasure to life. For they are directed to traversing this Manifest World and embracing the World of the Unseen. Without doubt, a life that has lost the taste of striving has lost its meaning. At the same time, comfort is striving. But I do not mean outer comfort, which has the meaning of laziness, idleness and indifference, and expresses certain death. For fixedness is death and change is life. And life is action and death is silence. "A comfortable life finishes man from the spiritual point of view, just like pests that eat plants."55 The poet yearns for eternity, like the sufi, and eternity is first perceived in oneself. As William Blake said: "The door to eternity opens from the atom's centre."56
Sometimes the relation between poetry and sufism reaches such a pitch that one may say that poets are sufis, and sufis are poets. Such people have left us poetry in which we can easily find wonders. Islamic culture is abounding in examples of these. We could mention Ibn Farid, al-Hallaj, Ibn 'Arabi, Farid al-Din al-'Attar, and the two from Shiraz. One cannot mention them all by name. In his Mathnawi, Jalaluddin al-Rumi offers witnesses for the meeting of poetry and sufism. Bediuzzaman Said Nursi testifies to it in many places in his work Mathnawi al-'Arabi, so named because of his admiration for Jalaluddin. Bediuzzaman's use of the same name was enough to express his admiration. Ihsan Qasim al-Salihi, who edited the Mathnawi al-'Arabi al-Nuri, wrote:
"Bediuzzaman originally gave the name Rasa'il al-'Arabiyya or al-Majmu'a al-'Arabiyya to these treatises. Written on the title page of the first edition was Qatarat min Fuyudat al-Furqan al-Hakim. But then Bediuzzaman gave it the name Mathnawi, so that it might arouse in hearts, minds, and spirits, an effect similar to Jalaluddin al-Rumi's famous Mathnawi, which was widely read among the people; and particularly because it had appeared in Turkey; and so that it might renew the belief in people's hearts, as had the Mathnawi, and raise to life disbelieving spirits. He called his work the Mathnawi al-'Arabi in order to distinguish it from the Mathnawi of Rumi, which was written in Persian."57
On the other hand, poetry has to strive to reveal the truth in a way that is not contrary to absolute reality. The same is true for sufism. Certain principles are necessary in this respect, otherwise the straight path will be deviated from. The aim is not astonishment in poetry and sufism; this is only one of the emotions showing the straight path. It is also not a practical way. Whenever astonishment becomes the goal and the main purpose, the poetry loses its substance and purity, as does sufism. Then it becomes merely a means of amusement and passing the time. Its value, subtlety, and attraction vanish at the same time. If in the event of that occurring, sufism still preserves the straight way, it will assist the poem. If the poem deviates from the straight way, sufism will form an obstacle preventing it.
For sufism is to be annihilated in the essence. For this reason, there is nothing to necessitate that experience of the essence remains as individual experience. On the contrary, surrendering the human essence should be the aim, so to reach the collective personality.
In this way, it is necessary to distinguish between Islamic sufism and deviant varieties of sufism. There has to be a scale by which to gauge a sufi's observations, so that he may distinguish between guidance and misguidance. Bediuzzaman mentions the Illuminists, who tried to penetrate to the inward aspects of things, and the spiritual ones who penetrated the World of the Unseen, then makes the following point:
"For since their views were restricted, they could not comprehend absolute reality. They could find only one side of reality, then they started to manipulate it to excess or deficiently. They therefore disturbed the harmony and spoilt the balance. For example, a number of men dive to the bottom of the sea to discover some priceless treasure containing every sort of jewel. While searching the sea bottom, the hand of one encounters a long diamond. So he surmises that the treasure contains only diamonds of this sort. Then on hearing one of his friends speak of other jewels, he imagines that they are embroideries of the diamond that he has found. Another of them finds a spherical ruby. And another finds a jewel of a different sort. And so on, each believes that the treasure consists of the sort he has found and that what his friends have found are superfluous to the treasure and of secondary importance. By taking on this form, the balance and proportion are lost. So then they start making forced and false interpretations in order to discover and explain the truth of the matter. Some even go so far as denying the treasure."58
As Hazim al-Qartajani said, the poet does not consider his poetry from the point of view of truth and falsehood; he rather looks on it as something imaginary. The question of imagination, which we discussed above, should not contradict the reality of things. The Aristotelian school assigned poetry a place more important than philosophy and considered it to be truer than history if it bore this characteristic. If that is the case, the poet's senses must be ever alert, his inner ear open, his mind illuminated, and he should not confuse events. Is poetry not at the same time a wearying journey like sufism?
"One who journeys on God's way encounters many stations, degrees, states, and veils, each of which possesses particular conditions and circumstances. One who confuses these, proceeds in error. For example, someone hearing the neighing of a horse in a stable, hears the exquisite song of a nightingale in a palace. If he cannot distinguish between the song and the neighing and seeks the neighing from the nightingale, he will have misled himself."59
Poetry and symbolism
Symbolism is one of the well-known devices of poetry. Just as there are many sorts of symbolism. In poetry, giving importance to form (sura) is one of the aspects of symbolism. Form is the lowest of the degrees on which rhetoric is based. It is included among the variety of metaphor which is made by giving numbers of examples, as though it was the highest of the forms of simile, allusion, and rhetoric. Some literary critics even considered metaphor to be a necessary condition of poetry, and wrote extensive discussions on the subject. Some symbols are close and some distant. The symbol performs a duty like a single flash, opening up boundless horizons.
While using a symbolical style, Bediuzzaman does not mislead his reader, or bewilder him. On the contrary, he takes him kindly by the hand, leading him to the light of truth so that all aspects of misguidance and scepticism may be lifted from him. Thus, symbolism is not the aim; it is one of the means of expression which should not exceed its function. Let us listen to what Bediuzzaman says: "Friend! The world has three faces."60 You may feel that he is calling you to the world with these words. But first ask yourself: "What are these three faces? How many faces does the world have? What points to them?" Bewilderment is one of the most important elements of discovery, for it leads to the door of questions that will banish doubt being opened. However, the importance of these questions is measured by their being questions in the true sense. So bewilderment forms one of the stages on this road. In this way, the answers to these questions will follow on one after the other in easy succession:
"The first looks to the hereafter, for it is its seed-bed.
"The second looks to the Divine Names, for it is their school and work-bench.
"The third looks intentionally to itself. It thus looks to man's desires and fancies and the demands of this fleeting life. If one looks at the first two faces through the light of belief, the world becomes like Paradise. Its third face is its transitory face which has no essential value or importance."61
Symbolism is the shared tongue of poetry and sufism, and is one of the most effective styles Bediuzzaman uses. In the fourth treatise, Qatra Min Bahr al-Tawhid and particularly in Dhayl al-Qatra, it is at a very high level from the point of view of symbolic literature and that of belief (imani). Even if the symbolism here is contrary to the spirit of superficial description of subjects as a totality as in ancient Greek mythology, and even if it remains outside the subject, it still is not a question of padding out the text with florid expressions. Just as symbolism is considered to be nothing more than an external embellishment in most modern poetry. It is not true art to bring together historical allusions or the worlds of the words without their being any connection in poetic experience. Bediuzzaman displays a transparent understanding of symbolism and stresses the renewal of spiritual (qalbi) vision rather than physical vision. This vision is the same as the following lines, which came to a poet of former times at the moment of a spiritual purification:
Wa ma kanat wa in rafa'at sanaha
Liyubsiru daw'aha illa'l-basir.
(If its sublimity was not exalted
Only those with insight would see its light.)
Symbolism does not deny the apparent, since it is the food and drink of the foremost of these persons. As those who appeared claiming to be esoterists (ahl-i batin), its relation with the inner face of things is imaginary. The ancients and the moderns, poets and sufis, are the same from this point of view. For however much they claim the contrary, such a denial means a negation of the truth. They say: "Sufi experience opens up an horizon different to that opened up by reading [the Qur'an]. The Qur'an gains for a person various and rich dimensions."62
The symbolism Bediuzzaman Said Nursi understood and used in his works is a visual, transparent symbolism based on the comparison of conditions. In this way, with praiseworthy imagination, he brought together the luminosity of the Unseen and the clarity of the Manifest. Our explanation so far is sufficient; in fact it has been prolix. Let us listen to the first 'Ramz' of the Dhayl al-Qatra:
"It is commendable to perform the obligatory prayers as soon as the time is entered imagining the Ka'ba before one. For one may see the rows formed around Baytu'llah (the Ka'ba) like concentric circles. The near rows encircle the Ka'ba and the distant rows encompass the World of Islam. By entering those rows one may be included in that vast congregation, and its consensus and unanimity may be a proof of everything one says in the prayers."63
Beginning in this way from familiar subjects in faithful, confirmatory and even stern style, Bediuzzaman reaches the reader in a logical way that addresses his reason, consciousness, and conscience. He brings together acuteness of thought and the subtlety of poetry. In this unique manner, he enters upon the poetry of the text.
"In some types of prose there is symbolism. One may approach these with poetic symbols, on condition the difference in kind is not ignored. From form and circumstance to the general nature of the art of expression, all are related to metaphor (isti'ara) and take their name from the figurativeness of things."64
Various aspects of Bediuzzaman's view of poetic symbolism are similar to other poets, and some aspects differ. This is particularly true of the many subjects Bediuzzaman discovered through observation. He is very desirous to illuminate those he is addressing concerning these, not put them to sleep. However, his observations are not physical or visible; they are non-material and to be perceived with the heart. He says: "Friend! I am going to mention a few truths I saw during an imaginary journey I made under the earth."65
Bediuzzaman describes as follows some of the things he encountered on the way:
"Impelled by Divine Determining (qadar-i Ilahi) I set off down an exceedingly strange road on which I encountered numerous misfortunes and enemies. But tendering my impotence and poverty, I took refuge in my Sustainer. Pre-eternal grace made me surrender to the Qur'an and made it my instructor... Every word and phrase recorded in this treatise indicates a victory I won. The truths it contains were written at such a level that they disallow their opposites even the possibility [of opposing them]."66
Hasty readers might understand something different from these words. But Bediuzzaman's intention -a mark of Divine grace- from these symbols is to invite us to read them more carefully.67
However, if this observation is non-physical, it may only be made with the consciousness in such a way that the poet does not neglect his reason. It is not claiming that creation is lost in the vision of the Creator. He frequently uses phrases like "That is how I observed it and my reason was together with me [that is, was fully operative]."
The intellect or reason being present is one thing, and the evil-commanding soul being present is something else. In order to pass beyond the latter, there is constant need of isolation. The first stage is to be divested of the desires and pleasures of the soul. The realization of existence is possible through the non-existence of existence. Bediuzzaman concurs with Muhammad Iqbal on this point, who considered the realization of true 'selfhood' (khudi) was to be sought through the way of self-abnegation, that of 'selflessness' (bikhudi). "If you want existence, be annihilated; then you may find it."68 Perhaps Jalaluddin Rumi is saying the same thing with the lines:
Don't suppose I say these words of myself;
When in a state of conscious wakefulness, my lips can utter not a word.69
If the reason has to be present, it is; this is an accepted fact. But he is calling on it to recognize its message and limits so that it may be possible to reach the light of truth. Thus, this recognition emerges as a sort of being burnt:
O reason! You are like water, and I in my own world;
Or I set light to it in order to boil together in our pot!70
In order to attain to knowledge of God, then, the reason has to 'boil' in the pot of love.
The reason is the companion of philosophy and wisdom. However, for reality to be manifested at the highest degrees, it is in need of the heart. Then the absolute may be reached from the limited. It is also in need of being burnt in order to attain to poetry of the highest level.
Truth without the kindling of love is philosophy;
It becomes poetry on being ignited by the heart.71
Bediuzzaman is not a poet in the usual sense of the word. He left behind him no qasidas in particular rhyme and metre.72 He had command, however, over all the means of poetry. He offered a literature of belief in poetic forms which shake the conscience, please the ear, stir the consciousness, set fire to the mind, and allow the imagination to plunge into the seas of a boundless world.
The symbolism of the nightingale and the rose
Most of the symbolism Bediuzzaman uses is his own and has not previously been used by others. This however does not prevent him from coming together with the majority of sy