A Matter of Fate: The Concept of Fate in the Arab World as Reflected in Modern Arabic Literature

By Dalya Cohen-Mor | Go to book overview

8
TO WISH OR NOT TO WISH?
The Double-Edged Sword

I know not, when I journey to a land, desiring good fortune, whether will betide me the good fortune of which I am in pursuit, or the misfortune that pursueth me.

—Unknown Arab poet 1


The Instinct of Dissatisfaction

Human history, according to the Qur‘ān, began at a point of unique advantage: after fashioning Adam, God “breathed into him something of His spirit” (32:9), endowing him with creative knowledge that set him above the rest of creation. God then asked all the angels to honor Adam by prostrating themselves before him, which they did, except for one of the jinns, who refused to acknowledge Adam's superiority, disobeyed God's command, and became Satan—Adam's archenemy and the personification of temptation and evil (7: 11–18). Thereafter, God placed Adam in a state of unparalleled bliss. God said: “O Adam! dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden, and enjoy (its good things) as ye wish: but approach not this tree, or ye run into harm and transgression” (7:19). No sooner had Adam and Eve settled in the garden than Satan began to “whisper suggestions to them.” Cunningly, he said: “Your Lord only forbade you this tree, lest ye should become angels or such beings as live for ever. And he swore to them both that he was their sincere adviser” (7: 20–21). And so they ate from the tree, and “their shame became manifest to them, and they began to sew together the leaves of the Garden over their bodies” (7:22). When their sin was exposed, God said to them and to Satan: “Get ye down, with enmity between yourselves. On earth will be your dwelling-place and your means of livelihood, for a time” (7:24). Their expulsion was decreed to encompass their entire life cycle: “Therein shall ye live, and therein shall

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A Matter of Fate: The Concept of Fate in the Arab World as Reflected in Modern Arabic Literature
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contents ix
  • Key to the Transliteration xi
  • List of Translated Stories xiii
  • Introduction xv
  • A Matter of Fate *
  • 1 - The Principle of the Prime Mover 3
  • 2 - The Agent of Corrosion 47
  • 3 - The Prison of Life 79
  • 4 - The Yoke of Tradition 105
  • 5 - The Female Experience 131
  • 6 - The Trap of Poverty and Tyranny 159
  • 7 - The Random Arbiter 189
  • 8 - The Double-Edged Sword 219
  • 9 - Conclusion 239
  • Notes 259
  • Glossary 285
  • Select Bibliography 287
  • Permissions 307
  • Index 309
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