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Islamic Fiction Defined

The Muslim Publishing Industry: An Overview

Questions and Answers About Islamic Fiction

Classifying Islamic Fiction

Historical Background of Islamic Fiction

What Muslim Readers Say About Islamic Fiction Books

Contact Information


Classifying Islamic Fiction

Purpose: This section of the Islamic Fiction Books web site is intended to explain Why and How books are Classified. The information is basic and not intended to be the place to learn everything you ever wanted to know about the subject matter.

It is important because:

1) The emergence of Islamic fiction as a category of fiction and because of the growing number of IF books being published and the number of Muslims writing Islamic fiction, and
2) The Muslim book industry does not recognize or use the word fiction when classifying Muslim authored books.

In the mainstream book industry there are two major types of books: Non-fiction literature and Fiction literature.

In the Muslim book industry there are two major types of book: literature and children’s books. Most of children’s color illustrated books would be classified as fiction in the mainstream book industry. It is important to note that in the Muslim book industry “fiction” books are not published by the majority of publishers for youth (chapter-style), teen or young adult and adult reading levels.

Muslims are writing fiction books for the older reading levels and the Muslim book industry does not have a method for classifying (describing) these fiction books.

Historically Muslims have been writing ‘fiction” stories for decades but these stories have been labeled as tales or folklore. An example is Tales from 1001 Arabian Nights.

Many of the fiction books being written by Muslims today are being published and classified in the mainstream publishing industry. This leaves Muslim fiction writers who write Islamic fiction without a method to describe their books. It was for this reason that the Islamic fiction sub-category of fiction was defined by the IWA organization.

Muslims who write Islamic fiction are basically using the mainstream system to categorize their fiction books and need to get the sub-category of fiction, Islamic fiction, approved within the Book Industry Standards and Communications (BISAC) coding system which is managed by a Committee of mainstream book industry professionals.

In the BISAC coding system Fiction has two main Categories: Adult Fiction and Juvenile Fiction. Within these two main categories are sub-categories and books are further classified (described) by their genre and reader age or reading level.

Why is it so Important to describe a book by a classification, genre and reading level?

Publishers, retailers, wholesalers, distributors, public schools and educational institutions and libraries rely on the classification code designations to categorize and list books in their own databases, in online and print catalogs, for placement of books on book shelves, and to list books at online bookstores and at physical book retail locations. Books need to be classified so they can be searched for in databases as well. Inventory tracking is critical for libraries and retailers/distributors.

People who read fiction look for a particular type of book. An adult reader may want to read a cowboy book. He would look for Adult Fiction, and then might choose a sub category of western books by selecting a specific genre. Reading levels are also important because publishers classify by age-content appropriateness as well as by categories and genres.

If you think of a pie as being all the books in the whole world, then you can see slices of the pie being different segments such as the Muslim publishing industry with its literature and Children’s main categories of books being a slice. The Christian book industry would be another slice. The pie could be cut up in many ways. The more specific the description of a book the smaller the slice of pie.

Question: Who classifies a book?

Answer: The publisher of a book classifies the book. Example for the Islamic fiction book Hijab-Ez Friends:

Main Category: Juvenile fiction
Sub-category: Islamic Fiction
Genre: Adventure and Family (publishers can usually select up to three genre categories to best describe the story)
Reading level: 9 to 12 years.

This book is in a series. The books are meant to be enjoyed by many reading levels but the target market (age or reading level) is the 9 to 12 years. By choosing “family” as a genre this indicates that the book is about families and may be of interest to more than just the selected reading level. 

Q. Does the BISAC Coding let a reader know if a book has harm content?

A. No. The BISAC Coding system is designed to categorize the book. Having an Islamic Fiction sub-category for fiction books written by Muslims would designate the books as meeting the Islamic Fiction definition that excludes harmful content.

Right now there is no way to tell which fiction book authored by a Muslim is Islamic fiction without harmful content and which is fiction which could have harmful content.

This is why the IWA organization has been listing Islamic fiction books here at this IFB web site so Muslims will know which books are Islamic fiction and which are not. It is the only means of identifying Islamic fiction that is currently available simply because the Muslim book industry does not have a coding system and does not recognize fiction as literature.

Islamic Fiction Genre Examples

 

Adult

Juvenile

Adventure

Adventure

Fantasy

Fantasy

Science Fiction

Science Fiction

Historical Persons

Historical Persons

Historical Events

Historical Events

Mystery

Mystery

Romance

Etiquette

Family

Family Values

Culture

Culture

General

General

Urban

Urban

Nature

Nature

Political

Religious Practices

Prophets

Prophets

Eid Celebrations

Eid Celebrations

Ramadan

Ramadan

Hijab

Hijab

Pillars of Islam

Pillars of Islam

Family Saga

Family Saga

Establishing Age Appropriateness and/or Reading Levels for Islamic Fiction

Establishing age appropriateness and/or reading level for Islamic fiction books is an important part of the classification process. Standards established in the BISAC Classification Coding System are being applied to Islamic fiction books.



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