Are you a Muslim who is gifted with the written word? Have you ever wondered whether what you write will take you to Jannah or Jahannam? What is the role of a Muslim journalist, copywriter or speechwriter?
These thoughts were floating in my mind while on a two-hour sampan (small narrow traditional rowing boat) ride, deep in the rainforest of Malaysia. I was covering a story about natives who reverted to Islam Suddenly, just in a split second, I could see the boat capsizing, all the water from the river come gushing into our small boat up to my calves.
At that moment, the only thought that came to mind, if I drowned today or got eaten by a crocodile, will all the things I have written so far help secure a place for me in heaven or hell? We are eventually saved by the natives in the jungle who then took us to their village.
It was there, that I met a person who made me realize what a Muslim writer should do. We called him, Ustadh Idris, he was on dawah mission to the natives deep in the interiors. He made an impression on me because he was not blessed with a deep reservoir of knowledge, but he applies what little he knows and teaches it to others. He was very generous with his time and stories. One of the stories that he narrated to me was how he become a Muslim. It encapsulates the whole essence of being a Muslim writer.
He came from a devoted Hindu family living in a village where Muslims are the majority. As a teenager, he used to play soccer every afternoon. On one eventful day he played soccer as usual but little that he knew, it was a soccer match that swayed the course of his life.
It was a deadlock the two teams drew 2-2, time was running out and they needed someone to tip the game in their favor. He managed to tackle the ball from the opposing team striker, but it seems the whole opposing team was running after him as he was heading towards the goal post. He had no choice but to pass the ball to his team mate Aziz. Aziz skillfully ran with the ball dodging five other boys who tried to grab the ball from him.
Before you know it Aziz found himself, right in front of the goal post of the opposing team. At that moment, the stressed-out goalkeeper did not expect this to happen and he clumsily trips and fell down, it was a clear shot and a sure win.
Suddenly, Aziz just left the ball there, and run in the opposite direction all the way outside the field and through small alleys until he was no longer seen. All that can be heard is the call of Azan, it was Maghrib. The next day Ramu (before he became Idris) demanded an answer from Aziz,
‘Why did you abandon us when we needed you the most?”
Aziz said only one thing “I have to go and pray. We Muslims can’t ignore the Azan when its time for prayers. We have to stop whatever we do and answer the call of Azan.”
Ramu was annoyed and refused to talk to Aziz. A week after their argument, Aziz had a shock during his Isha’ prayers. Next to him was who was standing side by side for Isha’ prayer.
Idris had sought the advice of another friend who owns an Islamic bookstore, he began to learn about Islam. His only rationale at that time was any religion that could stop a man from scoring a goal when he had a clear shot must be a religion of truth.
Ever since then, Idris has been doing dawah and all he talks about is Islam. Whenever he opened his mouth it will be for Islam. He could relate daily mundane tasks, to Islam he was a walking, talking; one-man show, Islamic Radio. He would tell you stories, about his life, about his wife about his village, and it all contained lessons relating to Islam. He was gifted, funny and his passion for Islam was infectious.
As a Muslim writer, you may not always have the chance to always write about Muslim issues. You may not have the courage to write about certain things because you might upset some people. That’s alright, we all have to learn to walk before we can run.
No matter what you do, whether you making a living making as a copywriter or any other writer for that matter, just allocate time to learn about Islam and write about things that will help Muslims as a community. Ultimately, your first duty as a Muslim writer is to make the word of Allah the Most High. You can start by producing content that can a source of comfort for Muslims and helping them to get closer to Allah.
Secondly, even if you have been earning a living writing about things that you don’t really believe in because it pays the bills, you should not go cold turkey and stop altogether. Even, if you are a speechwriter for a politician, you can still serve Islam. Start a side hustle writing about things that you really care about, something that gives you peace and empowers Muslims.
As a Muslim writer, it takes a lot of weight off you because you are not doing it to look good, clever, it is not for vanity or self-interest. You don’t have to worry about how you present the truth, without upsetting your boss or your ‘non-Muslim friends. You just tell it as it is, it is the most liberating experience.
You may have hesitation because of the level of your knowledge in Islam, You may not come from a religious school or study any Islamic science systematically. This has been a stumbling block for some and prevented them from writing on Islamic topics. Yet, this lack of credentials is actually is a plus point. It enables me to understand and reach out to ordinary Muslims and go down to their level.
It actually would enable you to present Islam in a way that people who think Islam is a part-time or “if you have time” thing. These are people that need to be made aware that Islam is a full-time career and the more you do over time the better.
Writing for the Muslim audience is just the same as writing for any other audience. You still employ all the writing tricks like attention-grabbing headlines, cliff hanger and storytelling. But you don’t focus on it. What is important is the point you want to get across.
As a Muslim writer, you must know the journey is yours but the result is from Allah. How many people read your writing is not your concern. You should write sincerely for a bigger purpose,
And then there is this constant battle that needs to be won. with every word that you write must be sincerely to please Allah. If you constantly remind yourself about this InsyaAllah you may gain the pleasure of Allah.
Whether you are writing corporate stuff, copywriting or even speech writing there is always room to seek the pleasure of Allah.
Interested to write for the Muslim audience? We’re looking for contributors, if you want to publish your article here, let us know.
Shahfizal Musa is the Founder and Managing Editor of Halalop. He graduated with a Law degree from Thames Valley University London. He is an award-winning journalist covering topics such as human trafficking, Muslim research discoveries, and exceptional Muslims.
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