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We are currently meditating on Surah al-Alaq and in our previous meditation we discussed how Allah (SWT) commanded us to read again as he (SWT) was the most generous, as he (SWT) has given us the gift to develop spiritually from an insignificant ‘alaq to the most perfect of creation, one that has a strong and obedient relationship with Al-Akram, their Lord ‘Iqra wa rab bukal akram’ (Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous).
In this meditation, we will further examine the generosity of Allah (SWT), which he (SWT) introduces us to in the fourth ayat, ‘Al lazee ‘allama bil qalam’ (Who has taught (the writing) by the pen).
The pen has a great significance in Islam, especially with creation. It is narrated Allah (SWT) first created the pen and then commanded this pen to write everything from now until the end. Once this pen had written it, Allah (SWT) ordered this to become manifest and, through what was written, all creation was created.
In the same way that this pen was the cause of all creation, Allah (SWT) has given us the pen. The first human to write was the prophet Idris (AS) and, as he (AS) was a messenger of Allah (SWT), the pen is a creation from this divine lineage that is a gift to us.
Why is the pen a gift to us? When we understand the answer to this question, we understand the generosity of Allah (SWT).
In our previous meditations, we have discussed how Allah (SWT) has twice mentioned to read (iqra), within the first three ayahs of Surah al-Alaq. This ability to read, and through reading, is one that is unique to us, amongst all of creation. However, to read is passive and to submit.
In the fourth ayat, Allah (SWT) mentions the pen and, consequently, our ability to write. Whereas to read is passive and to submit, writing is creative and to lead.
In the same way that Allah (SWT) created all of creation through his pen, he (SWT) has given us, the perfection of creation, the ability to write with our pen, a divine gift that has been given to us through Idris (AS). Through this gift, we have been given, within our own limit, the ability to create and to lead.
This divine gift (the pen) has given birth to a divine ability, within us. Through writing, we have been given the power of creation. How generous is al-Akram, he (SWT) has allowed us to understand him (through reading) and also to express our understanding of him (SWT) through writing.
Furthermore, he (SWT) has given us the power to create through our imagination. When we see the genius within many works of fiction, how can we not be in awe of the one who gave us the imagination that gave birth to that genius within fiction?
When we read the duas of our masters, how can we not but be drawn closer to Allah (SWT) by those who were closest to us?
Through the pen, and through writing, we have preserved history, and, within this, our own history from the hadith mubaraks and the wisdom that they have created. How would we have this without the pen?
Furthermore, these are from the pens of others. From our own pens, what can we create? We can write anything that we can choose, and these words have, within them, the power of creation. We can write lists so that our life is organised, we can write our own purpose so that our life has direction, we can write to others who are close to us so that our relationships have been strengthened and we can write about Allah (SWT) so that, through the gift that Allah (SWT) has given us, we can praise our Lord.
In the same way that Allah (SWT) has given us the ability to read, which includes reading anything that we choose, he (SWT) has also given us the power to write and, within this ability write is the power of creation. We can read whatever we choose to and we can write whatever we choose to. This is the generosity of Al-Akram and how then can we choose to read or write anything that does not bring us closer to Allah (SWT)?
May Allah (SWT) increase our reading and our writing so that we can practice this gift that he (SWT) has given us. May our words always contain the power of creation within them, which in itself is the most generous gift of all as that gift is one that can outlive our temporary stay in this world. Aamin.