Is it good to write? I don’t know. Every year come these blues that petition me: disappear, withdraw and delete these posts for good. All the world has an opinion and each of us thinks ours matter, and are worthy to be expressed, and are important, and need to be uttered in public, for others to read and reflect on. But are they really? Is it rather nothing but delusion? In the popular preaching of religion, we are continually taught: silence is better for you: speak the truth, or stay silent. And: much speaking causes the heart to whither away and die. Yet I do the opposite, not in speech — for I remain as incoherent as ever in the spoken word — but in all that my typing fingers hammer out on these keyboards. All of this, which seems so urgent and necessary one moment, which becomes a source of immense regret in the next. If I ceased to write, would it matter? Would the world be any worse for wear? Of course not, for words depart as quickly as they were imagined, fluttering across the mind of the reader only for a moment, soon to be forgotten. In writing, do I truly only counsel myself? And if so, why does it have to be public? Why not just pour sentiments into a book never to be read by others? These are the thoughts that occupy me these days. “Is it really good to write?” I ask myself every night.
After twenty years moving in this community, and over a decade — on and off — amongst Muslims online, I have grown far too skeptical to take the latest manufactured controversy at face value. To our activists and leaders of opinion, amongst whom are the sincere and faithful, I am sorry; I am sorry that skepticism is my overriding reaction to the latest populist altercation online. Continue reading “Skeptical Muslim”
A compulsion regularly comes over me which insists: “Write!” But in my heart, after all has been said and done, there is disquiet, regret, remorse: my writing betrays arrogance. After the fact, I wonder to myself: would silence not be better for you? Would it not be better not to release these words? Are you not only portraying your ignorance? Would it not be better to recognise your station and withdraw, to unpublish and retire? Each day, these are the thoughts that follow every essay. Am I merely just poisoning my own soul? And yet before I have had time to respond, there comes yet another compulsive urge to write down all that is on my mind. Once more I spill my soul onto the page, momentarily thinking it urgent, as if my words had any impact on the world. And then once more the regret and remorse: what an arrogant, conceited fool.
Sometimes you have to pause for thought and take stock: to remind yourself where you have come from and where you are going. To recall promises you made along the way. To remind yourself that the process of reform is ongoing and continuous: that it doesn’t stop just because you stop. That a vow you made still stands, even if you have slipped or fallen; that the door remains open, that change is still possible, that you still have work to do. Continue reading “Let’s be honest”
In the two years before I first uttered my shahada, I came to fancy myself as a fine writer, although my only real talent was to have the patience to hammer out a million words on a keyboard in the middle of the night for months on end. I had two self-printed novels to show for my efforts, which I shared with friends and family, accidentally revealing my woeful illiteracy.
Why would you withdraw a book so soon, after so much work? Simply because of that review? Or those reviews? Why be such a coward? Why give up so soon? Continue reading “The inevitable withdrawal”
Who sits this side of the computer terminal, tapping out words that shoot out across the web? Nobody knows.
Nobody knows if the author is a believer or a doubter, the pious or a sinner, the learned or the ignorant, a guide, the guided, the misguided or a misguider. Nobody knows if the author is who she says she is, if she is a ghost-writer, a fantasist or an imposter. Nobody knows if what he says is honest and true, or if with his typing fingers he proclaims one thing, whilst his heart witnesses to another.
Of course only God and ourselves know what our hearts contain, but in this world of decapitated voices we are more easily led astray. A thousand admirers praised an author for their vast faith, sincerity and piety, whilst the applauded one’s faith withered away, witnessed only by God, close companions and their computer’s pale night-time glow. But how, but why, but please, oh no!
Such pain for one nobody ever even knew, except through their own words, selected and refined for public consumption. Who sits before the whirring box, its disk drives chattering, its fan blowing hard, its display imprinting the retinas with those small white squares that return whenever he looks back at his beloved? Nobody knows, except He who knows what our hearts contain.
May our Lord grant us virtuous non-virtual companions who guide by their actions and character, not merely by the words of their tongues or typing fingers, who emit that great light of faith that alone can carry us home.
When I as studying for my Masters degree in Publishing six years ago, I was interested as a recent convert to Islam in the question of safeguarding knowledge now that technology had brought publishing within virtually anyone’s grasp.