What is history? History is a record of events that happened during a period of time or in the life or development of a people, an institution or a place. Very simply, it is a means whereby future generations will know where they came from and what contributed to where they are now, whether socially, scientifically or technologically.
Someone said at the launch of a book which I attended: “in order for us to know where we are going we first have to know where we are. We can only know where we are when we know where we came from”.
Humanity has recorded happenings and conditions under which they lived since the very beginning. What we know of the progress of the human race is largely due to the recording of our ancestors. From the first crude drawings on rocks to writing on skins and parchment and eventually to the written word in language as we know it today, people have always had the urge and need to make their mark on history.
The importance of the written word can therefore not be under estimated. In the fast paced world we live in currently, we often hurtle form event to event, with not a thought of recording so that our children and grandchildren will have the opportunity to either benefit or learn from us. This is important both in the micro world of family, society, as well as in the macro world where changes are taking place faster than the proverbial blink of an eye. We are more and more relying on scholars and academics to record what is happening in our era; and they will bring to the history of our time their subjective and often slanted views.
Perhaps it is time that we take the initiative and write our own history; maybe we do not have to aspire to be published, but personal histories will perhaps benefit our children and their children. Some of us live in tiny communities which are but a speck on the world map; but we are no less significant. Milestones in the progress and development of a community can be of benefit to others; serve as an example to strive and even inspire many of us who feel that we cannot contribute for the greater good of humanity.
On a personal level; writing is therapeutic. When something weighs heavy on your psyche, writing about it gives you the opportunity to take it from within and place it outside of yourself. Thus it becomes once removed and often lightens the feeling of heaviness. In this way writing serves as a catharsis.
To encourage people to take up the pen, or tap the keyboard of the computer, Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (ICIT) is offering a course in Creative Writing, comprising 10 modules. The course will cover skills in writing biography, memoirs, short stories and also the straight forward reporting of events.