Learning from my Pen, and from Others’ Pens
Sometime last year when I was still penning my learnings and notes on my blog Between Faith (before I started The New Muslim Co.), someone told me that it was very unusual for Muslims/ reverts like myself to publish about their journey, about Islam, because they would be terrified of saying the wrong things, and as we all know, saying something that is factually wrong and misleading is very severe.
At that time I was young(er) and more unaware of things like that; somehow the only thing in my mind was that I was probably one of the only muslims around my family and circle of friends, and probably someone else’s only small peephole to what Islam truly is, other than the inaccurate internet sources and biased media.
Soon, I began documenting stories from reverts. Stories from women beginning to wear hijab. Their thoughts, their struggles- everything. And soon, I began to see a disparity of opinions from other people coming in. I remember a particular one, a Japanese Muslimah revert of around 8 years. She disagreed with a viewpoint in one of the articles- but she emailed me in private- noting that we had differences in views, courteously explaining her point of view, but never imposing her opinion. Then I remember another one, rather harshly criticising (yes, keyboard warrior-ing) a sister who had just begun wearing her hijab, for her strong views that made her start wearing the hijab. I remember the sister being really upset about it. Though the matter was resolved, the sister was probably affected for a very long time.
I remembered all of these, all the ways in which people have used to express their opinions to me over the stories and writings I choose to publish. I remember the pleasant disagreements, those which were full of respectful, mutual unsaid agreement to disagree; and I remember thinking to myself: this is the disposition that I would want to emulate- that I should be striving to achieve. And I remember the ones that were not so pleasant, the “I’m RIGHT and you’re WRONG” types, and I would remember how I’d feel, and I’d tell myself to never, in the best of my ability and effort, make someone feel that way, insha’Allah.
The Pen is Mightier than the Sword
Just last week during my usual classes with Ustaz Zhul, he gave us a quote which really struck me hard.
The Pen is Mightier than the Sword.
Words can have tremendous power and eloquence to affect people’s thinking and actions.
I experienced the full brunt of Ustaz’s teaching exactly within this week itself, during a situation that made me reflect on the amount of responsibility and accountability I hold with my writing. Who am I writing to? Would they understand this the same way as I do, or do I understand this well enough to be writing about it? With what position am I using to write this? And most importantly, am I able to account for and be responsible for my writing? Am I able to be in a position to accept any possible disagreements and clarifications on my writing?
The Adab of Writing (and Learning)
“O Malik! Take (learn) from your teacher the Adab before (taking from them) the knowledge.”
– Imam Malik’s mother’s advice regarding learning
I cannot stop writing about Islam, though I am but a mere student, still struggling through her tajweed (yes, I’m a horrible student, ask my teacher :D) and being late on her class reflections astaghfirullah. The one thing that keeps this writing going is the hope that one day, my loved ones may understand why I chose this way of life, and that they, too, may be given hidayah from Allah.
The one thing that has to be learnt, is that with this pen (or keyboard), comes immense responsibility. Wallaahu musta’an, May Allah s.w.t help us all.
“Verily Allah does not remove knowledge from the (hearts of the) people, rather he takes away knowledge by taking away its people (the true scholars- ‘Ulama) until there are no more scholars, the people then take leaders that are ignorant, and when they are asked, and give fatwas-religious rulings, they give without knowledge, so they misguide and are misguided”
(Hadith reported by Ashaab as-Sunnan from Ibnu ‘Umar r.a.)