By Tayiba Ahmed
“Literature adds to society; it does not simply describe it.”-C.S.Lewis
Everyone seems to define literature in their own way. Some think of its aesthetics, some think of its meaning. Ultimately though, the first question that is asked in relation to literature usually concerns its meaning, but rarely considers its conception. We often times ask “What is literature?” yet fail to realize a more pertinent question of “Why Literature?”. On the 19th of November, in celebration of literary week, such a question was asked and answered by the most prominent figure of Urdu language and literature, Shamsur Rahman Faruqi.
Faculty of Mushtaq Gurmani School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Yasmeen Hameed began the talk by warmly welcoming the several Gurmani guests in attendance, introducing the various literature courses offered at LUMS and finally inviting Mr. Shamsur Rahman Faruqi onto the stage.
After a warm welcome by the audience, Mr. Shamsur Rahman Faruqi began his literary discussion. The audience sat in rapt attention as he answered the question “Why literature?” with another: “Why not?” He gazed around the silent room, leaving us to contemplate the other side to the question. Indeed, Why not?
Literature has evolved over the years, shaping along with the society. It has always been there, and it will always be. The immortality of literature was beautifully captured by Mr. Faruqi in one elegant sentence:
“literature, and more specifically poetry, is the religion of our next generation.”
It is true that many people do not care about literature. Only few are able to see the underlying beauty contained in a few written words. However, it is true that most literature does not care about people either. The beauty lies in its ability to remain unaffected while affecting those around it.
Society, Mr. Faruqi carried on, plays an important role in the literary world. The context of the society cloaks the content of literature. However, it is not to be confused with the subject of the work.
“Literature provides a philosophical explanation of life”, said Mr. Faruqi, “yet it does not mean that it is the factual explanation of life.”
Literature provides myths about the interpretation of life. Yet, it is imperative that we realize it is merely the writer’s interpretation and not a mirror of life itself.
Mr. Faruqi enthralled the audience by his knowledge and deliverance of such an insightful lecture. The auditorium was filled to the end with students, faculty and guests, all appreciating his expertise. When the floor was opened to questions, every question was entertained comprehensively.
Mr. Shamsur Rahman Faruqi came to LUMS and delivered a lecture on literature. It was a simple explanation of literature, yet it was more than that. His passion for literature came through in every word and inspired every member of the audience. Everyone was undoubtedly grateful to Mr. Faruqi, as is LUMS, for his time and effort. A very warm thanks to Mr. Faruqi for his amazing lecture.