On The Legacy of Writing


“Praise be to GOD who created writing as a means of communication between distant men, a vehicle of greeting amongst the ulama, and of sorrow amongst the unlettered; verily, had it not been for it, communication would have ceased and transactions would have been impossible.”

Uthman ibn Idris
Mai of Kanem-Bornu
1391 AD

I ran across this quote, the salutation of a letter written to Burquq, Sultan of Egypt, by Uthman ibn Idris, in February 2009.

Five years later, it is still resonant to me.

As writers and thinkers, these are the types of men we are descended from–princes who saw themselves as equal to any in the world and who spoke with confidence and self assurance. Men like Uthman ibn Idris and the servants at his court. Men who did not approach discourse with a sense of inferiority. Who came to the markets of the world to sell and to buy the goods of the mind certain of their own currency. How have so many of us, their descendants, been such unworthy heirs? How did we fall from there to here?

I re-post, to remind myself. And, perhaps, to restate myself.


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