By Dr. Edmond Melhem
Sa´adeh expressed his opinion that “friendship is the consolation of life, but love is the drive towards the ‘High Ideal’.”(1) His new conception of love is derived from his new outlook on life and must be viewed, like other concepts such as freedom, right, strength, duty and discipline, in the light of his new philosophy of al-Madrahiyyah on which he based his vision of society. It is no longer seen as “a mere passion and a temporary surge that soon fades away”(2), but as a cause of joy and beauty of the whole life and the participation of the souls in [creating] this beauty. In this sense, love, it can be said, is fruitful. It generates the desire for fulfillment and for attaining happiness and the true joy of a profoundly human friendship.
An interesting aspect of Sa´adeh analysis of the subject of love is his refusal to view love in terms of sexual desires alone. He rejects bodily lusts to be an ultimate end of love for they are the source of hurt, hatred and minor despicable and sordid enmity, which sees nothing in the world, except its smallness, sordidness and despicability.(3) In his novella, Faji’at Hubb, he seems to adopt an attitude of self-restraint criticizing people who view love in terms of the lust of the body, not the emotions of the heart. To him, a sublime love is a spiritual love that binds two hearts eternally for the sake of a lofty purpose.
Sa´adeh, moreover, does not see love in terms of “cheeks, breasts and good looking figure.”(4) He rejects material love, which is portrayed by “feverish looks, quivering lips and inflamed kisses.”(5) To him, love is a mix of thought and feeling and the sharing of souls in appreciating life and its beauty and in trying to realize its high demands and ideals. It is not to be seen as a mere spiritual relationship, but rather as spiritual-materialistic; “if it gets lips closer to lips, it would pour a soul into another,” Sa´adeh says.(6)
1) Antun Sa´adeh, As-Sira’ al-Fikri fil-Adab as-Suri, (Intellectual Struggle in Syrian Literature), Beirut: SSNP, 1960, p. 67.
2) Ibid., p. 171.
3) Ibid., p. 57.
4) Ibid., p. 65.