Dear Muslimah blogger,
Today I’m writing to you about a topic that I have rarely seen discussed in the broad blogosphere, let alone the tiny little marble us Muslimah bloggers are in: responsibility. Or more specifically, the famous English saying ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’. Believe it or not, there sayings in Arabic too that draw a line of comparison between pens and sharp objects like daggers!
It seems as though our ancestors knew the true power of words. Let’s not forget that Islam, one of the fastest spreading religions of all time, spread through words. Yes, of course, the words of Allah are incomparable to my and your humble little scratches on our little nooks and crannies in the Cloud, but there’s a point to be taken from it all: words have great power.
Words can sway your opinion and my opinion so we consider things we never considered before in our lives. You and I, we have the power to change lives with our words. We also have the power to destroy lives, for power is a double-edged sword: you can use it for both good and evil. This gives us a huge responsibility to bear.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t let the words flow from our fingers onto our screens via keyboards and touchscreens. It most definitely does not mean that we shouldn’t hit Publish, Tweet, or Post. It means that we should be careful with what we write and share with the world. We must choose our words wisely, and comment on things that we are sure about, or use disclaimers of any sort instead. Today, with the widespread use of social media, it has become quite easy for people to share their opinions, whether foolish or wise, controversial or conforming. Social media also has made the world a small place: today, you can make friends from all over the world armed with just a Twitter or Facebook account, an Internet connection, and a device that connects to the Internet. The smaller the world gets, and the more people you can reach, the bigger the responsibility that sits upon your shoulders becomes.
This doesn’t mean you and I shouldn’t write. This doesn’t mean we should allow the weight of this responsibility to stifle our voices. No, in fact, we should evolve ourselves until the writing we write is suitable and compatible with the responsibility that has been placed on our shoulders.
As Muslims, we are encouraged to spread the word about good things. There are multiple Hadiths about teaching people good things, and the rewards for that. There is a Hadith ordering us to convey at least a single verse of the Quran or saying of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). In the Quran, Allah equates good words with good trees that are firmly grounded yet reach the sky.
These are also responsibilities of ours as Muslims. So how do we balance the responsibility that is contained in the power of our words, with the responsibility to spread them far and wide?
I’m sure each one of you has her own process, in which she weighs her words and their affect on others. Most of us probably do this to some extent in our personal lives. But a blog post isn’t like telling your sister about something you heard about. Your sister is probably going to double-check it in case it is a rumor. But your fans aren’t like that. Your readers probably look up to you more than your sister does, and they’ll take you for your word. So you have to be careful about making sure that your sources are accurate.
You have to be even more careful if you’re writing about Islam. Or quoting Islamic scripture in any way. You cannot interpret it unless if you have the sufficient knowledge to do so. Yes, you may interpret it for your own self, but handling the responsibility of having mislead yourself for a mistaken interpretation differs from handling the responsibility of havig mislead hundreds, maybe thousands, or more, of your readers.
I’m not saying this to discourage you from writing, or to make it seem harder than it is. It isn’t easy, but it isn’t that hard either. You need to be willing to accept your responsibility, as well as to find a way to work with it. Read more. Research more. Listen to what others say. Learn from others. Learn from yourself and your mistakes. And most importantly, do not, ever, be embarrassed to admit your own mistakes. Published a blog post with some information that turned out to be wrong a few days later when you came across a better source that corrected your understanding of the matter? It’s okay. Add an update to that post for future readers, and send out social media updates telling your readers that. Maybe even mention it briefly at the beginning or end of the next blog post you publish.
Yes, there are some people who are going to call you out for that. Some readers may unsubscribe, or stop reading altogther. But you know what? You don’t need them anyway. You need people around you and following you who are honest and upfront about mistakes. After all, there is no perfect human being.
Always remember to renew your intention with Allah before writing something. Remember why you’re doing this. Ask Allah to help you in your mission, be it spreading His Word, or even just blogging about OOTDs in order to earn some extra affiliate money on the side. Keep your intentions pure and Allah will be by your side. Accept your mistakes, own up to them, and work hard on changing what needs to be changed with regards to them.
I wish you all success in your journey. Stay blessed.
Yours in writing,