by Muammar Qaddafi
Flee, flee the city, and get away from the smoke. Get away from the
chocking carbon monoxide, from the poisonous carbon monoxide. Go far
away from the sticky humidity, and away from the poison gases and
inactivity. Flee from the lethargy and waste, the poison and boredom and
yawning. Flee from the nightmare city.
Pull your bodies out from
under its oppressiveness. Liberate yourselves from the walls and
corridors, from the doors that are locked in your face. Rescue your
hearing from the commotion and uproar, from the willy-nilly shouting,
ringing of telephones and doorbells, from the roaring of engines. Leave
the irritation behind, the anxious places, the sealed locations. It is a
place of short-sightedness and wastefulness. Leave the rat race, and
the rat holes as well. Leave the worm-like existence behind.
the city and flee to the village, where you will see the moon for the
first time in your lives. You will change from being worms and rats,
exiled from social companionship and ties, and become true human beings
in the village, oasis or countryside. Leave the cemetery neighbourhoods
for God’s wide and wondrous land. You will see constellations in the sky
that will make you despise the chandeliers made of sand that used to
hang above you in the city. Artificial things, which could be broken or
go to waste at any moment. Dirty things, covered with flies and spiders
in the burrows of the city, which are known as apartments and homes. In
the countryside, look up and see the divine lanterns suspended in the
dome of the sky, and not the ceiling of a filthy tomb in the city.
village is peaceful, clean and friendly; everyone knows everyone else.
People there stick together through thick and through thin. There is no
stealing in the village or countryside; everyone knows everyone else.
One takes into account the reputation of his family, his tribe, and
himself before doing anything that might cause harm. Any bad deed
committed there does not end on the same day, as in the city, where
crimes are often committed against people not known by the criminal,
since there are so many people of different types and kinds there. It
does not even end when it ends, but lingers on with its family, its
group and tribes, constituting a permanent disgrace for the one who
This social deterrent is stronger than any civil law
or city police force. Moreover, social solidarity and networks in the
countryside and village take care of the needs of the needy, and prevent
them from having to beg or steal. Rural life is simple, humble and
satisfying, far removed from the desires and luxuries of city life. A
village-dweller does not feel the need for these silly desires which
city-dwellers do. The village and the countryside do not know fads and
fashion; they are of calm and peaceful temperament, and are not about to
change. Villagers do not suffer from tension and complexities, or
lusting after wealth. Thus, their lives are calm and easy, innocent of
any pains of desire.
These desires are, of course, enjoyable in
and of themselves, but they are preceded and followed by many pains and
troubles. They are the pains of wanting to obtain something unnecessary,
precisely because it is desired. In fact, harvesting and plowing for
the sake of one’s daily bread and planting trees and picking their fruit
to eat are necessary things. At the least, the work that precedes them
does not cause psychological anguish; rather, it is enjoyable labour
because it is righteous and truly necessary. No regret either follows or
precedes this work; instead, it is preceded by joyous hopes of
achievement and satisfaction after the fact.
City life means
panting as you chase after certain desires and unnecessary, yet
necessary, luxuries. When we see these social sicknesses spread throughout
the city, and laws passed to combat them, we are not surprised. We do
not believe that they will end, and that we will gain victory over them,
for the nature of city life is thus, and these sicknesses are
The city is dizziness and nausea, madness and loss,
fear of insanity, fear of confronting urban life and its urban problems.
It means fleeing from these things, trying to ignore them, compensating
for moral and social emptiness, and the inability to satisfy these
urban desires. Entertainment becomes a means to escape life, while
drunkenness, madness and suicide are possible ways of treating the
diseases of urban life. Sometimes, and for some people, in fact a large
percentage of them, urban life, with its aimlessness, superficiality,
and lack of responsibility, is considered a treatment in and of itself.
this hell on earth, run quickly away. In complete happiness, go to the
village and the countryside, where physical labour has meaning,
necessity, usefulness and is a pleasure besides. There, life is social
and human; families and tribes are close. There is stability and belief.
Everyone loves one another, and everyone lives on his own farm, or has
livestock, or works in the village’s service sector.
unacceptable, because the people in the village know one another, unlike
those in the city. There, deviants know that they are not known by
others; thus, a liar in the city is able to lie, without his lie
requiring him, his family or his tribe to answer questioning by society.
A city-dweller has no name, nickname or title; his name is his
apartment number. His nickname is his telephone number, and his title is
his street or neighbourhood. These he changes from time to time. Thus,
who he is now is not who he is afterwards.
How beautiful the village and countryside are! Clean air, the horizon before you, the heavens without pillars thou canst behold
, with their divine lanterns above. The conscience is healthy; moral
example is the basis of moral action, and not fear of the police, the
law, prison or fines. There is liberation from all of these imposed
restrictions and terrible necessities. There are no whistles sounding in
the ears of those wanted, or those not wanted. There are no one-way
streets, no pushing others out of the way, no standing in line, no
waiting, no looking at your watch.
The village and countryside,
the wide sky, joyfulness, the lord’s dominion makes life peaceful and
relaxing. It has none of the city’s oppressiveness or crowds. The moon
has a meaning, and there is pleasure gained by looking at the sky. You
can see the horizon, as well as the sunrise, sunset, dawn and dusk. Look
at the beautiful picture the Holy Quran draws for us of the village and
countryside: It needs not therefore that I swear by the sunset redness, and by the night and its gatherings and by the moon when at her full. 
city has no moon or sun, no dawn or dusk. Its night is mixed with its
day; there is no separation between them. There is no sign of nature. We
see only artificial creation and ornamentation, we feel disturbances
and annoyances, we live meaninglessly and marginally. We look down
beneath our feet, read posters, watch for signs, get caught up out of
necessity in trivialities, or else lose our very lives. Any looking or
noticing other than these petty affairs puts you outside the context of
city life, and could cost your life, or urban freedom.
The Holy Quran says: By
the sun and his noonday brightness; by the moon when she followeth him;
by the day when it revealeth his glory; by the night when it
enshroudest him; by the heaven and Him who built it. . This beautiful verse is literally present in the village and countryside. As well as By the noon-day brightness; and by the night when it darkeneth. .
when the dawn is invoked, we must remember that the dawn is seen only
in the village and countryside. What dawn is there in a city,
electrified day and night? Who sees the sky and the constellations of
the zodiac? Upon the ground there are signs for those who believe. But
what ground in the city? Busy sidewalks, crowded streets, bottlenecks,
alleys, choke-points, limited vision. What signs can be seen in the
streets of the city? What contemplation can take place in the
crowdedness of the city?
There is no time in the city, no night
and no day. What about the night and all that it enshroudest , the
dark of the night , the dawn , and the afterglow of sunset? 
 Holy Quran, Sura 13, verse 12.
 Holy Quran, Sura 84, verses 15-48.
 Holy Quran, Sure 91, verses 1-6. In Arabic, the sun is a masculine noun, while the moon is feminine.
 Holy Quran, Sura 93, verses 1-2.
 Implicit reference to Holy Quran, Sura 84, verse 17.
 Implicit reference to Holy Quran, Sura 17, verse 78.
 Implicit reference to Holy Quran, Sura 89, verse 1.
 Implicit reference to Holy Quran, Sura 84, verse 16.
Novel from "Escape to Hell and Other Stories" by Muammar Qaddafi with foreword by Pierre Salinger.
© Text copyright 1998 Stanké, New York.