By Rana Rais Khan – Editor-in-Chief, Hiba
Some prevalent ideas have confused the educated strata of our society. For example, with the advent of digital information, e-books, and online self-learning tools (which are great, don’t get me wrong), some people believe printed books are a thing of the past, especially for the young generation. They also argue that videos and visuals are more powerful than printed words or scripts. I want to give them a reality check.
“Over the past decade, there has been a significant growth of LGBT literature geared towards youth in particular. The Lumberjanes, for example, is a popular comic book series consisting of seventy-five issues. Its protagonist is a Navajo trans woman (i.e., a biological male who has transitioned to being female) with two gay fathers. In the year 2010, there were approximately ten books published by mainstream publishers for young adults with LGBT characters. By 2016, a mere six years later, that number had climbed to eighty. We also now see the release of an annual “Rainbow Book List” that provides updates on LGBT-themed books for children of all ages—from infants all the way up to18-year-olds. Public libraries and elementary schools throughout the United States even host “drag queen story hours,” where men dressed in flamboyant wigs and makeup read to children and, in the process, inculcate highly sexualized caricatures in their young minds.” (Dr Carl Sharif El-Tobgui on Blogging Theology with Paul Williams (July 17, 2022) – paper published on Yaqeen’s website)
By the way, some of these books have made their way effortlessly into leading Pakistani bookstores. If books didn’t matter, LGBT pundits would never have invested in them. It shows that reading books is still a vital medium of impression, thought and behaviour development.
To all those parents who lament that their kids don’t read and just want to be on their tablets, smartphones or laptops, I would like to question:
- Do you read?
- And if so, what do you read?
- How many books do you have in your home?
- Are they visible and accessible?
- Do you ever talk about what you have read with your family, especially kids?
- Have your children ever seen you being a student for life?
- If your child had to describe your leisure hours, what would he/she say about you? My parents read books, my parents use social media, my parents engage in community service, my parents party, my parents worship, and so on.
In 2017, research showed that the following countries are among the top book readers:
- United States of America – 275,232 books read annually
- China – 208,418 books read per year
- United Kingdom – 188,000 books read in a year
- Japan – The country reads an average of 139,078 books annually
- Germany – They purchase 9% of the world’s market share of books
What was the first Ayah revealed to Prophet (sa)?
“Read in the name of your Lord Who created – Created man from a clinging substance. Recite, and your Lord is the most Generous – Who taught by the pen – Taught man that which he knew not.” (Al Alaq 96:1-5)
I often wonder why Allah (swt) did not first enjoin Salah, Saum or Zakah to the believers. How strange is it that we were asked to read using a filter of the Quran and Sunnah to understand the realities of our existence? And of all the creations, Allah (swt) chose to mention the blessed pen as a means of teaching, learning and discovering. Know our Creator through Divine Knowledge.
It startles me when I see such indifference of Muslims toward Jihad bil-Qalam (the struggle to enforce Haqq by pen). It further shocks me when they shy away from investing their wealth, exerting their efforts, or supporting the causes directly involved in Dawah through content writing.
Pakistan publishes 3,811 books approximately annually. What does that say about a nation where parents and educationists run from pillar to post to ensure their children and students secure top grades? Why aren’t these children reading, writing or researching, then? Do they just stick to their curriculum? You might tell me that they read digitally.
If the superpowers of the world who have created digital technology have not given up on book printing and reading yet, why have we?
That is maybe because book reading still develops more patience. Its knowledge is known to stay longer as compared to the digital screen, which is fleeting. Print gives more focus, whereas online reading has too many distractions, with all its pops and pings.
This debate can go on, I am sure. The crux is that Muslims must invest in themselves first and next in all such organizations that produce Islamic and Shariah-compliant content. Just as they generously donate to feed a hungry stomach and pay for the illness of sick patients.
Nelson Mandela captured it well: “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.”
We thank Allah (swt) for all His blessings mentioned in Surah Ar-Rahman “The Most Merciful. Taught the Quran. Created man. [And] taught him eloquence.” (55:1-4)
Indeed, the power of the pen granted humankind eloquence, education and progress. Alhumdulillah