I have read Tolstoy’s virulent criticism of Shakespeare.
Other famous writers such as Voltaire and George Bernard Shaw seem to also despise Shakespeare.
I am also aware that he had a political bias towards the ‘red rose’ or the House of Lancaster.
Moreover, I am certain that he had a lot that can be criticised.
However, there is no doubt in my mind that he was a master in the use of the English word.
Furthermore, some of the meanings he delved into are universal and cross cultural.
I would therefore say; he was a genius in conveying meanings.
Indeed, I was taken by surprise when for the first time I read the following quote:
“And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
Win us with honest trifles, to betray’s
In deepest consequence.”
Maybe it applies to some witches, but I feel that explanation is nothing more than just a masquerade.
More pertinent to reality though; that quote explains the way influential people operate in bringing darkness upon the land.
For example, Matthew Hopkin [born 1620 – died 1647] devised a test for women accused of witchcraft. In his test, they are thrown into water and if they drowned then they are not witches. However, if they survived, then they are witches and therefore they are executed. Now, would you hesitate to call Matthew Hopkin an instrument of darkness?
These instruments of darkness exist among influential people of all times. They are found as rulers, wealthy people, religious and non-religious leaders. Just as they existed in the past, they exist in present times.
How about we cross to another culture?
A culture that is well documented and which can be used to understand past and current events. It can also be used as a bridge between cultures.
It is narrated by the famous collector of Hadith*, Muslim Ibn Al-Hajjaj, with a sound chain of narrators, that Ibn Abbas (who was a young boy) said: “I was playing with children when the messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, happened to pass. I hid myself behind a door. He came and patted my shoulder and said: “Go and call Muawiya for me.” I returned and said: “He is busy eating food!”. He again asked me to go and call Muawiya to him. I went and came and said: “He is eating!”, whereupon he said: “May Allah not fill his belly!”
Muawiya never felt full of anything afterwards.
Indeed, he used to eat seven times a day and yet he was never full.
He was so overweight that he would sit down when giving a speech.
He was a master of gluttony.
He was a very influential ruler.
But worse, he was an instrument of darkness.
When Ahmad Ibn Hanbal narrated this hadith, he censured the sentence: “May Allah not fill his belly!”
He was instrumental in covering for Muawiya and so are his followers to this day.
These instruments of darkness have but one of two explanations:
1. The Prophet, peace be upon him, himself was wrong as he made a call against Muawiya who did not deserve it.
2. Or that Ibn Abbas was in the wrong by failing to convey the call of the Prophet to Muawiya.
But these explanations are but embodiment of darkness.
It suffices to say that Ahmad Ibn Hanbal censored a narration he heard from his teachers.
If it was not an issue, then he would not have censored it.
How about: “Muawiya was wrong!?”
How can he not be wrong for taking the life of so many good and innocent people of his time?
Nay, he was an instrument of darkness.
One of my teachers narrated to me that the famous Jaffar Al-Kattani was teaching in Damascus when a man interjected and said: ” Our master Muawiya!” He stopped him there and then and said:
“Your master, not our master!”
A hadith is a saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, directly or indirectly.