Islam is a wonderful religion. It makes you stand out from the crowd in a special manner. From the way you consume water to the way you sleep, you are being taught to make every action different from everyone else. Yes, Islam even teaches you how to fulfill nature’s call. The way you smile, the way you eat, the way you walk, the way you gaze, the way you talk, the way you cry and many more actions you perform – all these have already been prescribed to be under certain rules and regulations. So the way you admire or give birth to any literature should also be performed under certain guidelines.
I would like to share what I know with regards to this particular topic, with you readers. It’s not my intention to point out at any individual or organization. Rather, it is a collection of my own understandings and observations that I’ve developed while writing, which I would like to share with you since I think it would be of immense benefit to all of us in sha Allah, including myself.
We are in need of Islamic writers, not just Muslim writers. In other words, it’s not about a Muslim who writes, but about the impact of what is written. Anything that is written should fill the reader’s heart with Islamic knowledge and every writer should strive to produce this type of prominent work.
Anything that is written should fill the reader’s heart with Islamic knowledge and every writer should strive to produce this type of prominent work.
As such, Islamic writers should make themselves aware of Islamic teachings. A writer should be aware of or be able to source Islamic rulings, while creating any piece of literature. Every one of us should make sure that we never promote falsehood no matter what we write. Any literature, including poetry, prose, paintings or novel writing, should undergo the same rules as that of any speech.
Shaikh Urwah ibn al-Zubayr said:
“Poetry is like speech. What is good is good, and what is bad is bad.”
An Islamic author of any literature should make sure that each and every line which he or she produces never goes beyond the limits which Allah() and His Prophet () have set. Writers should also have sincere and pure intention or ikhlas. “Ikhlas” is the basic media which transfers any day to day activity into an act of worship. When it comes to writing, if the writer possesses pure intention of pleasing Allah(), the act of writing may be considered as ibadah (worship) in the sight of Allah(). By having ikhlas, writers can protect themselves from falling into sins, such as promoting falsehood. Rather, they can motivate themselves to ink the good things which may bring goodness to the whole of humankind.
Let’s analyze some common mistakes we make while writing, learn from them and correct ourselves in our future writings in sha Allah.
Writings That Blame Destiny.
The faith a Muslim has in predestination plays a major role in their life. In other words aqeedah (which qualifies a Muslim to be who he is supposed to be) has dedicated a vast area for faith in destiny or Qadr. A lot of Muslim literature nowadays is targeted towards the painful inner feelings one goes through when they are being tested in this dunya. The way they feel about their loss and the struggles they go through, as if they are fed up of this life, are described by many Muslim authors in their own work.
In fact, let’s not deny the truth. Usually, inner pain is the catalyst for a lot of literature. The concept of pain is what’s mostly being used to refill the pens. It is not at all prohibited for any Islamic author to pen aspects of pain in their own style, but Islamic writers should make sure that they never spoil the readers’ acceptance of the destiny or despair in their hope of Allah()’s mercy with their writings. In other words, when a reader goes through the lines of emotion and pain in any literature, they must also be reminded through the same literature that Allah()’s plan is always just and He is the one who can undo every knot.
Causing The Reader To Admire Something That Should Not Be Admired.
This topic deals with issues which may be a threat to one’s emaan. Let us take the subject of pictures, as an example. Encouraging your reader to admire the picture of a matured woman; her smile, her hair, her figure and her eyes, should be avoided at all costs. I know that the literature fans from the Stone Age even to this very digital era do interestingly admire the beauty of women, but as Muslims we should live the same lives both in reality and in our literature.
“Allah has decreed for every son of Adam his share of zina, and there is no way to escape from it. The zina of the eye is a glance, the zina of the tongue is speaking and the zina of the mind is wishing and hoping; then the private part either acts upon this or it does not.” (Saheeh, Bukharee and Muslim).
We are Muslims who enjoin the good and forbid evil. Therefore, Islamic writers should always make sure that they are not the reason behind another person’s zina. May Allah() guide us all and protect us all always. Ameen.
Failing To Select The Language Flow That Suits The Audience.
I am referring to the English writers in this section. English is considered to be one of the international languages. Many people around the world study English and interact in English to make the communication process easier. Thus, it is evident that the audience of any English literature can be categorized into two; the reader whose mother tongue is English and the reader whose second language is English.
We must consider to which of the above category the vast majority of the audience falls.
We can beautify our writing style more by adding a rich flow and a set of rich vocabulary which may make our literature perfect if we are to cover the first category of audience. On the other hand, we must also be more sensitive about the richness of vocabulary, and the language flow if we are supposed to cover the latter group.
It’s perfectly alright to deliver our thoughts in the best of styles we can ink, but it is of no use if the reader finds our literature to be difficult to understand. Therefore, if we encounter such situations where an audience’s mother tongue is not English, then we must follow the easiest language with which they may find ease.
Lack Of Knowledge About “Copyrights” And “Plagiarism”.
Any Islamic author should know about copyrights and plagiarism in both the contexts of Islamic and secular law. Let’s analyze each one with a brief explanation.
Islam never prohibits a Muslim from establishing his or her ownership upon their belongings when it is required. Our work when it comes to writing can be considered as our own property upon which we may have some exclusive rights. Thus, we must give the public awareness about our copyright statements on any literal work we may pen.
‘Copyrights’ as the name suggests, is concerned with the right to copy something. It may be a written document, a photograph, a piece of painting, a recording, etc. Our articles which are published (online or on ground) may be used as references by many readers. If we publish them without copyright statements, then we have no rights to hold them accountable for any misuse of literature, such as copying the contents without reference, modifying the contents and re- publishing the work with a new author’s name.
We must understand that by adhering to the habit of releasing work with a copyright statement, we can protect our work and warn the readers against literal robbery intentionally or unintentionally. Therefore, as Islamic writers, we must make sure that protection is given at its best to our work and then leave the rest to Allah().
When we produce our own work, the context may not be constructed purely out of our inner thoughts at times. As average writers, we may adopt ideas, quotes and content from another author or authors, to add more value to our piece. In this scenario as good Muslims and as good human beings we must make sure that we go through the copyright statements of other authors and follow the copied contents with accurate references.
Plagiarism simply means stealing another author’s work and using it without any reference. We have to always remember that every author considers their work as their own child. Therefore, by having a broader awareness of copyright and plagiarism concepts, we can build a healthy relationship between authors in sha Allah.
I have inked this article as per my understanding and knowledge and I ask Allah() to forgive us all and help us to adhere to His teachings. Ameen.