Did you not see that they wander [yaheemun] in every valley?
[Surah Ash-Shu’araa’ 26:225]
This is an expression in the Qur’an describing poets and it is extremely relevant in our time. Some points to bear in mind:
- The word [haamat] (to wander) is used to describe a camel when it is lost, wandering aimlessly in any direction, from one valley into another.
- It also includes wandering while not knowing the kind of danger ahead.
- Also before one ventures into a valley, he is on the higher ground – which is associated with honor & dignity. Its opposite is going down into the valley, and being low is normally associated with humiliation.
This isn’t a phrase about how the poets like hiking 🙂 So what does this expression really mean then?
The Thought Process of Entertainers
Back in the old times, the Arabs entertained themselves by listening to poets. The poets had 2 roles: They were the entertainers (they performed story-telling and singing) and also the philosophers of that time (which will be explained further).
Fast-forward to the present is the entertainment industry today. Now we have movies or songs that became extremely popular. As a result the artist received spotlights, won awards and his movie/song received millions of purchases – but how long does these sort of fan-craze last? After some time of listening to the same thing repeatedly, people get tired of it – they want something new. So the artists had to work hard to come up with the next big hit.
But when the sequel isn’t as popular as the first, people begin to lose interest in them. The problem is, the lives of these entertainers revolve around fame and recognition. They become desperate when people no longer pay attention to them. So we see how certain artists re-invent themselves by making their songs indecent or more controversial. Some would even further lower their standards of decency for the sake of popularity – they got arrested for drug overdose, or did something utterly scandalous. They would try all sorts of style and methods as long as they get a little bit of that spotlight again. So they keep venturing into every, single, possible valley. That’s the correlation with this Ayah. The entire thought process and career goal of entertainers is being described in this one Ayah.
If we compare today’s entertainment with 50 years ago, we will find how deteriorating they get in terms of language, decency, and shamelessness. Here’s the scary part: The entertainment industry has the opportunity to influence thousands of minds. What we listen WILL affect our thoughts, and in turn affect our behavior and speech. Every container only gives out what it contains.
In the old times, the poets were also their philosophers. In our time, we have certain philosophy professors who try to instill one thing: That there is no such thing as absolute truth. They live in the world of What-If’s: What if there is no God? What if the Book has been tampered? What if all of these are just folktales? When someone tries to answer them, they would continue to ask the next What-If question – they keep wandering into every valley that has no end.
The Qur’an teaches us to live in the world of WHAT IS. Overwhelmingly in the Qur’an, Allah s.w.t. asks us to look WHAT IS around us, at ourselves, at the ruins of nations that were destroyed. We are supposed to have clarity of thoughts, we don’t venture into any valley. Instead, our job is to pull people out of them!
Notes extracted from the Divine Speech Seminar by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan.