بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
When we think of classical Islamic scholarship, what comes to mind are huge volumes of books written in high classic Arabic. We become awed by the diligence, piety, productivity, and excellence of these great individuals, رحمهم الله.
What we don’t usually grasp is the fact that these people, apart from being masters in their own fields of Islamic studies, were master writers of their time. They were highly proficient and conversant with the literary styles, techniques, and conventions of their particular era.
Keeping this in mind, those of us who are trying to follow in the footsteps of these amazing inheritors of prophethood should put some effort into really getting to know, becoming conversant with, and then slowly but surely mastering the techniques and principles of the writing styles of our own times.
Writing is not just about passing on information; how you pass it on also matters a great deal. There is a whole sub-science of Arabic linguistics– the science of rhetoric which deals solely with the style and clarity of writing and speech.
The great people of the past whose writings fill volumes knew the great benefits of putting their ideas and thoughts onto paper. Our thoughts are flighty creatures, and the only way of catching and fixing them is by writing.
Writing can help you organize your thoughts and ease the steps for long and deep analysis so that you don’t forget the beginning by the time you reach your conclusion.
The most important reason for writing is that during the time you’re engaged in this one act, you’re experiencing something sacred. Allah ﷻ said (translation):
Recite, and your Lord is the most Generous – Who taught by the pen – Taught man that which he knew not. [Quran, 96:3-5]
This simple tool– the pen (or in our times, the keyboard)— is the key to knowledge from the beginning of times. It is sacred because Allah ﷻ swears by it:
By the pen. [Quran, 68:1]
If one remembers this fact when one is writing, one will get the feeling which the past scholars would have had when penning their great works.
It’s a human weakness that we equate value with price; if something comes cheap we regard it as lowly and worthless. But is it really true? Does it stand to reason that whatever has a low monetary price is low in value as well?
Consider the price and the value of the following things: water versus diamonds. Water comes really cheap, but how valuable is it in our lives? We can’t work well if we haven’t had a drink of water all day, and we can’t survive a week without it. And what is the price of diamonds compared to water? But do we need diamonds in order to survive?
How much does a pen (or a keyboard) cost nowadays? Its price is pretty cheap, but its value is immeasurable, a tool that glitters in the hands of the noblest of angels. Its scratching can be heard in the highest of heavens.
So what are you waiting for?