by Ali Farkhan Tsani*
(translated by Widi Kusnadi)
Allah said: اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ
means: “Read! With the name of your Lord who created. “(Al-Quran Surah Al-‘Alaq).
In the first word, “Iqra ‘” (means: read), it is a form of command. Allah commanded the Prophet to read.
When receiving this first verse, Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wasallam was not good at reading. He was even well known as a ‘ummiy‘, which could meant illiterate, not good in writing nor in reading an article.
Angel Jibril instructed the Prophet three times to read. He brought and taught directly to the Prophet, hope that the prophet could memorize and read it.
Allah the almighty who creates everything. With His mercy the prophet would be clever to read later when verses revealed to him. Then, the revelations was named Al-Qur’an and Al-Qur’an which also means a reading.
Sheikh Muhammad Abduh explains, “The Almighty made a man of a water, turn into a blood clot, then became a full human. Through His power, He gives the ability to the prophet to read. Although he was known as ‘ummiy’ (illiterate).
If we pay attention carefully the content of the hadith, it states that the prophet was told to read three times, three times he replied honestly as well, that he is not good at reading. Three times the angel Jibril embraced him hardly, to convince him that since that time he has the ability to read.
Importance of Reading
The Word of God:
اقرأ وربك الأكرم
It means: “Read! And thy Lord is the most Exalted. “
After in the first verse the Prophet was orderd to read by the name of the God who created man from a clot, proceeded again by ordering him to read in the name of God. While the name of God is Allah, the most Exalted, Most Generous, Most Beneficient and Merciful to all His creatures.
الذي علم بالقلم
Translation: “He who taught by al-Qalam (using pen).”
That is the privilege of Allah. The most Exalted. He taught man all kind of sciences, opened all kind of secrets, handed him the keys to Allah’s treasury with ‘Qalam’ (the pen).
Besides the tongue is used for reading, Allah ordained that by pen knowledge could be recorded. Pen does not live, but what are written by the pen are the variety of things which could be understood by human beings: “Teaching a man everything that he did not know.”
Allah Ta’ala taught humans to use Pen. Then He bestows knowldge, so we could note it by the pen which is already in hand. Knowledge is like a captured animal and writing is leash. So, fasten it with the strong rope.
Human body is compossed of fine mesh of human food taken from the earth. They are hormones, calories, vitamins and other various substances. Those sources come from vegetables, fruits, staple food and meat.
As time goes, human beings grows and mature. The most important part of the body is the tongue which to connect with people surrounding him as the connection of what he thinks. As his intelligence increases, Allah gives him the skill to write. So, in this verse, it is clear that the highest assessment to humans is the ability to read and write.
Shaykh Muhammad Abduh said in his tafseer: “There are no such deep words nor perfect reasons rather than the verse which declared the interest of reading and writing in all parts of knowledge. Then He opens the wisdom of all revelations that would come down further.”
Shaykh Qatadah said, “Pen is a great favor of Allah the Almighty. If there is no pen, there would be no religion established and the world would not be good.
Imam Ash-Syaukani explained: “Allah remainded the primacy of writing because it has great benefits, which could not be known except himself. Through writing sciences are recorded, laws are collected, history of the previous figures are searched, and the holy books are studied
If Muslims do not get a hint of this verse and they do not notice the progressed streets, tearing the wrapping sheaths that cover their vision, or knocking down the locked doors, they surely would be locked in a darkness of stupidity. If the opening verse does not thrill the human heart, they would not be going to wake up forever.
The role of “Qalam” (Pen)
ن والقلم وما يسطرون
Meaning: “Nuun, By al-Qalam (pen) and what they write.” (Al-Quran Surat Al-Qalam verse 1).
God has sworn by “al-Qalam” (pen), because of His glory, and the glory of the purpose of His creation.
Allah also mentions the word “Qalam” (pen) at several places in his glorious book, as in his words:
ولو أنما في الأرض من شجرة أقلام والبحر يمده من بعده سبعة أبحر ما نفدت كلمات الله إن الله عزيز حكيم
It means: “And if all the trees on earth were pens and the ocean (were ink), added to her seven seas (again) after (dry) it, will not be exhausted (in the writing) sentence (knowledge) of God. Surely Allah is the Mighty, Wise “(Al-Quran Surat Luqman verse 27).
Glorification of the position of “pen” is also mentioned:
الذي علم بالقلم علم الإنسان ما لم يعلم
It means: “(Allah) Who taught (man) with pen (reading and writing). He teaches a man what he knew not. “(Al-Quran Surah Al-‘Alaq verses 4-5).
Because of the importance of knowledge and the means of acquiring it, God explained it to us in Surah Al-‘Alaq since in Jahiliyaa’s periode people could not read and write but little, and this is the worst periode in the history.
When the works are easily forgotten and lost, then Islam required to write all of works through Qalam, even though in various tools and shapes.
Qalam is a mandate that is on the shoulders of those who brought them. He should not put it but to write treatises were revealed to the Prophets and their inheritors, the scholars. Thus, incorrectly in using the pen means wrong in using the weapon, they both lead to the destruction of mind and society.
A poet says:
إذا اهتز في طرسه معجبا أذل شعوبا وأعلى شعوبا
Meaning: “If someone wrote on a sheet of paper with the arrogant, he could humiliate a nation and raise the other “.
It is the obligatory for writers, journalists, teachers, secretaries, and others to fear Allah with their pen’s scratching. Because speech is a mandate that worn at their pen, and the word is trust circular at their necks.
Allah would ask them about their mandate, a mandate which the universe, earth and mountains did not want to carry it.
For the one who believe in Allah, embraced Islam as his religion, and to follow the Prophet Muhammad SAW, he must not deviate from the truth, tend to falsehood and heresy, accusing others, dishonest, unfair, mocking other people, berate opponents, praising themselves and others but not praising his Lord in his writing.
The pen was created to purify and exalt God, to invite people back to Him, to introduce them to Allah as the only one God to be worshipped, not to get something worldly, nor popularize their wares, write false praise, and other bad things.
How much pens to be broken, how many writers should be dismissed. Because they are not proficient in using the pen, they wrote sheets of ugliness, to get wordly pleasure and satisfaction.
Da’wah through the Pen
Da’wah is an activity which is calling and asking people to faith and obey to Allah Subhaanahu Wa Ta’ala.
Da’wah needs a skill, then so-called the art of Da’wah. The art of da’wah is a skill which provides a guidance to attract people to adopt, follow, approve or implement an ideology, religion, or a particular job.
The purpose of Da’wah is realizing happiness and well being while living in the world and in the Hereafter under the blessing of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala.
Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Wasallam gave model of da’wah through utterences, works and deeds. Starting from his family, friends and the conquered kings at that time. Among the kings who received the Prophet’s letters were the emperor Heraclius of Byzantium, Mukaukis of Egypt, Kisra of Persia (Iran) and King Najasyi of Habasyah (Ethiopia).
Firstly, da’wah is delievered orally. It can be in the form of speech, lectures, group study and direct communication. This way will become effective when it is presented in such worship day or delivered through dialogue with audience.
Other types of da’wah is Da’wah bil Haal, is an effort emphasizes to the real action. It is intended that the recipients follow preacher’s instructions. This type has a huge effect on receivers. When the Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam at the first time arrived in Medina, he practiced Da’wah bil Haal by establishing Quba Mosque, and unite the Ansar (natives of Medina) and the Muhajiriin (immigrants from Mecca) in the bond of ukhuwah Islamiyah.
As Nowadays, facing the global era, da’wah through writing (publishing books, magazine, newspapers, and so on) is very important and effective. The advantages of da’wah bil Qolam are the messages would continue to be exist even though the author passed away.
Therefore, it is time for Muslims to use the mass media as a means of da’wah. The justice, prosperity would spread to all people in the world with the values of Islam which bring blessings to everyone (rahmatan lil ‘alamin).
* Author is one of Editors of Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)