It is reported that Imām Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal – Allāh have mercy on him – said:
Al-Shāfi’ī saw me sitting in his circle, and there was some ink on my shirt I was trying to hide. He said, “Young man, why are you hiding it? Having ink on ones clothes is a sign of lofty conduct: to the sight it is black, but to the insight it is white (with the light of knowledge).”
It is reported that ‘Abdullāh b. Al-Mubārak – Allāh have mercy on him – said:
Ink on the clothes is the perfume of the scholars.
– Some put this in verse (from Arabic):
The ink-pot’s ink is the perfume of men
As saffron is the perfume of women
So the former befits the garments of those men
As the latter the garments of wives
It is reported that Imām Aḥmad said, seeing the students of ḥadīth approaching with their ink-pots:
These are the lanterns of Islām.
Al-Khaṭīb Al-Baghdādī, Al-Jāmi’ li-Akhlāq Al-Rāwī, articles 508, 509, 512 .