Evaluating Narratives Through a Quranic Lens

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Evaluating Narratives Through a Quranic Lens

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The stories we craft, from classic literature to TV sitcoms and blockbuster movies, act as mirrors reflecting either God’s perspective or deviating from it. Regardless of their factual accuracy, these narratives either echo life’s truths through a divine lens or stray from it. Often, our stories blend God’s wisdom with random opinions. Some purposefully mislead audiences away from truth and virtue, while others do so unintentionally.

Since the Quran is our sole absolutely reliable source of truth, we must evaluate the stories we encounter to see how well they align with Allah’s perspective. Without this scrutiny, we risk embracing and being influenced by false and possibly harmful views of life. Their opinions become our reality, causing us to lose our true selves.

The call towards the truth also includes critiquing popular culture to help ourselves and our loved ones discover and stay steadfast on the straight path.

Take Inside Out, for example. The film’s central lesson about valuing our range of emotions is important and well-communicated, reflecting an integral part of emotional intelligence. However, the film rests on a key assumption that contradicts the Quranic perspective: it suggests that emotions control Riley’s responses and reactions, implying her reactions are solely driven by emotions, with no distinction between her emotions and her will.

Humans are not mere machines operating on stimulus and response. Good and evil are tangible forces at play within and upon us. In Islamic psychology, we understand the Nafs (self) to manifest in three forms: Nafs Ammarah (the commanding self) which leans toward evil; Nafs Lawwama (the self-reproaching self) which wrestles between good and evil; and Nafs Mutmainna (the tranquil self) which finds peace and aligns with divine will. Temptations and satanic influences act upon our minds from the outside and should never be mistaken for our true selves. The guiding light of consciousness, or Taqwa, comes from the Source of Guidance Allah SWT rather than our brain cells. The Ruh (spirit) within us transcends the physical realm.

When entertainment lacks this holistic psychological perspective, it can mislead and potentially harm its audience.

God did not design our emotions to dominate us. Do not mistake the daily barrage of feelings for your true identity. Whether you frequently grapple with emotional turmoil or maintain a serene emotional balance, your emotions are not the essence of who you are. You are called to be the Abd (servant) of Allah, and your genuine identity is discovered only through the Creator. You are not meant to be enslaved by your emotions. When you align with Allah’s truth, your emotions will become instruments that serve you as you serve God.

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