Comment on the theme/ message/ central idea of Leigh Hunt’s poem “Abou Ben Adhem”.
In his poem “Abou Ben Adhem”, Leigh Hunt presents an innocent man named Abou Ben Adhem drawn from the Arabial folklore to deliver his message that Loving one’s fellowmen is perhaps more virtuous, if not at par, with loving the Almighty Himself.
In the Islamic month of Nous Sha’aban, God takes the golden book of mankind and chooses those dear to Him to call them in the following year. Hunt uses this storyline as his base for conveying the central theme of the poem.
In the poem, Abou Ben Adhem’s sleep is disturbed one night with the bright light of an angel in his room. He calmly asks the angel what it is doing. The angel replies that it is making a list of those who loves God. When Abou comes to know that his name is not in the list, he requests the angel to include his name as one who loves his fellow men. When the angel appears again the following night, it is found that Abou’s name tops the list chosen by the God.
Through this simple and unequivocal plot, the poet presents the theme of “love of men” in this poem.
The message of this poem is that the people who love their fellow men will be blessed and loved by God himself.
In the poem ” About Ben Adhem” the poet Leigh hunt tries to convey the message that one who shows love, compassion and empathy to their fellow beings is the real worshiper of God. One cannot achieve the blessings of the God just by going to the respective holy places.
The poet uses a small boy’s life incident to convey this message. Abou Ben wakes up as a bright light interrupts his sleep. He saw an angel in the corner of his room writing something in a book of gold. Abou enquires the scene. Angel said that he is writing the names of those who loves God. Being a small boy and a true worshipper of God Abou curiously asks whether his name is there in the list or not. He was grieved to know that his name was not in the list but clearly he requests the angel to write his name in the list as someone who loves their fellow beings. This was an excellent display of compassion and love which Abou had for his fellow beings as well as for the God.
The next day Abou again saw the angel and angel showed him the list of the names who were blessed by the God. Abou was so surprised and happy to see that his name was the one leading the list. The theme and the message Leigh hunt wants to convey to the readers is simple and meaningful: “one who respects, loves and shows compassion towards their fellow beings are the ones blessed by the God “.
God blesses those who love their fellowmen and by implication loves them too. Service to humanity is service to God.
This poem brings it clearly to the fore that true love for God lies in the spirit of selfless service of the humankind. A number of people perform rituals and prayers to express their faith in God. However God blesses and loves those people more who love and practically adapt the greatest ideals and values.