Dialogue of Mind initiative discusses the role of heritage in contemporary Qatari literature

06 May, 2021


As part of “Dialogue of Mind .. Youth Debates” initiative, the Qatari Forum for Authors discussed the topic of “Folklore and its Presence in Contemporary Qatari Literature”.

The initiative, which comes within the framework of the activities of Doha Capital of Culture in the Islamic World 2021, aims to enhance the role of young authors and encourage freedom of opinion and criticism and respect the other opinion, through competitive seminars that discuss a range of intellectual and cultural issues, in the form of a debate.

The participants in the initiative, which is broadcasted on YouTube, were divided into two groups. The first one was led by the writer Issa Abdullah and included the two writers Sheikha Jawaher Al Thani and Noor Al-Hanzab. That team saw the necessity of employing heritage in literature.

The second team, led by writer and artist Lina Alali, and included the two female writers, Intisar Al-Saif and Iman Al-Khumairi, they saw the necessity for contemporary literature to be more concerned with reality and exploring the future than with heritage.

Issa Abdullah said that the cultural heritage may be somewhat fictional, but it carries messages for adults, children, or families. He added that “without the historical writing, we would not have heard about the previous nations whose stories were mentioned, whether in the Holy Quran, or the historical blogs. He pointed out that the interest of literature only in reality means that the coming writers will not write about our lives when we are part of history.

From her part, Jawaher Al-Thani said: “The role of literature is to document heritage, history, and codify it because it is not reduced to a specific generation or time. All the inherited stories, songs and stories are continuous from generation to generation as part of the national identity, and therefore literature must preserve National Identity”.

She pointed out that the literature has succeeded in documenting some sites and events, including, for example, the Battle of Al-Wajbah, which some aspects of it were mentioned in the poetry. She added: “The Qatari literature is not sufficient to preserve heritage, as evidenced by the efforts of museums in documenting and codifying heritage depending on the elderly, because the history strengthens the identity”.

About the impact of cultural globalization on literature, the writer Jawaher Al Thani explained that there is a need to highlight our heritage in our literature, especially in light of hosting many international events.

The writer Noor Al-Hanzab said :” The Qatari literature lacks stories and novels that deal with heritage, we miss this thing to reach to the children and the current generation because literature is not only a fiction, but rather a record of history and heroics, as it is rich in values, principles and experiences that must be passed down to generations, to benefit from them in The present time which should be included in contemporary literature”. She emphasize that our Arab and Islamic literary heritage is celebrated until Today, whether here or in the West.

The writer Lina Al-Aali said: “Despite the recognition of the inherited stories, but it have some negatives, such as spreading fear among children, and the reality of literature today depends on imagination and science fiction and on realistic stories that keep pace with the times. Therefore, in light of our preparation to host the World Cup, we want that the role of literature is to anticipate the future and not to stand on the past”.

In her turn, the writer Iman Al-Khumairi said: “We do not deny that the heritage stories exist and contain linguistic wealth that helps the imagination, but cannot limit the child’s imagination only in heritage”. She added, “I agree to teach heritage to children as a curriculum, and the state is a custodian of heritage through the relevant institutions. Therefore, literature is not the only container that preserves heritage”.

From her part, the writer Intisar Al-Saif said that the task of literature is to search for creativity. She saw that restricting the tasks of literature to maintain only the history is very wrong, because the literature have many objectives such as the imagination. She explained that instilling values ​​among the new generations needs to know what attracts them, and to think about their interests.

The researcher and writer Khawla Mortadwi, said at the end of debate, that the two parties agreed that the Islamic heritage is the largest vessel for our identity and that our heritage is preserved from religious grounds. She expressed her hope for the continuation of this initiative in discussing major ideas in a scientific way.