If literature doesn’t fire your imagination, try non-fiction

In her article on these pages, Are novels a waste of time in today’s data-driven world?(May 8), Deborah Lindsay Williams wrote that without literature, there would’t be much opportunity to “develop the muscles of our imagination”.

I would have believed her had I not spent several hours at the 1001 Muslim Inventions exhibition in Sharjah last month. There I witnessed what happens when you ponder the universe, in awe of the creator, and follow the words of the Prophet Mohammed: “Seek knowledge even if you have to go as far as China.”

These scholars read the works of the ancients and, through inquiry and imagination, they made the world anew.

If they had read just stories and fanciful tales, perhaps they would have dreamed up the television and the smartphone – but these inventions may have remained locked inside a novel and not acted upon in real life. When we read fiction, are we really exercising our mind muscles or passively witnessing how it’s done as if it were a video on YouTube? Some might feel that it’s better to just mimic others instead of building one’s own imaginations.

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