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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


The Muslim Publishing Industry: An Overview

The majority of Muslims making decisions in the Muslim book industry: publishers and retailers do not recognize fiction (creative and imaginative stories) as legitimate literature. The word fiction is not used by most Muslim publishers and retailers.

The Muslim book industry categorizes books in two main categories with specific classifications in the main literature category:

1) Literature: Literature is categorized by topic, subject matter, scholarly works, and by the author if well-known. For a more thorough explanation of Muslim literature and how it is classified via library standards visit: http://islamic-libraries.webs.com/

2) Children’s Books: Generally these books are color illustrated with limited text and are geared for early readers below the fourth grade reading level. Children’s books are not classified by genre and some, not all, have the age or reading level available at online and physical book stores. The focus of the content is generally on historical Islamic persons, Islamic events, Islamic practices, or nature.

Most Muslim publishers do not publish creative and imaginative fiction stories for older youth, teens, and adults, and most independent Muslim retailers do not buy, list, or sell the Islamic fiction and fiction books that do manage to get published today.

Retail availability is also impacted by the fact that many Muslim publishers serve as their own distributor and retailer and thus control Muslim markets they distribute books to.

Why Does the Muslim Book Industry Reject Fiction and Islamic Fiction?

There are conflicting views amongst some Muslims and within the Muslim book industry as to whether reading and writing fiction stories is or isn’t permissible within Islam. Most of the Muslim publishing industry is predominately controlled by Muslims who grew up in countries with educational systems that did not include fiction reading or creative writing. The majority of Muslim publishers and book retailers have no frame of reference to draw upon for publishing any fiction or Islamic fiction. Many Muslims living in these countries are skeptical about reading any fiction book because of this and because a few scholars living in countries where reading fiction is not the norm have pronounced fiction reading as a waste of time or stated fiction stories were lies and therefore sinful.

What Scholars and Educators Say About Islamic Fiction

Question: Is writing Islamic based fictional stories which are meant for da'wah, islaahi and creating awareness among the Ummah, especially the youth, by using the imagination, sinful in Islam? In other words is it sinful to imagine words, ideas and situations? And what's the difference between folklore and this kind of modern writings?

Answer: Praise be to Allaah. If it is made perfectly clear that this did not really happen, and that the story is being told just to give an example, then there is nothing wrong with that, but one should be careful to ensure that the style, contents and goal are beneficial and that the story helps to explain something about Islam and serves as a effective means of teaching and guiding people. We ask Allaah to grant you strength.

Source: http://islamqa.com/index.php?ref=4505&ln=eng&txt=fiction - Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

Question: I had been reading some novels that were written with an Islamic outlook. I was impressed by them and recommended them to a friend of mine. When he heard me praising these novels, he said to me: "Don't you know that fiction is unlawful, because it is a type of lie and lying is forbidden?" Please inform me of whether or not what my friend said is true.

Answer: With respect to fiction as a literary form, it does not constitute a form of lie. The reason for this is that the fictitious narrative does not fall under the category of an allegedly factual “report”. It is more akin to citing parables. The reader is fully aware that the author is not intending to impart a strictly factual account of something that actually took place. The author is merely telling a tale to bring some meanings across to the reader. Even though the individual events mentioned in the narrative may be everyday events, it is not necessary that they actually took place with the same details and in the same sequence with the same individuals that they occur in the story. And Allah knows best.

Source: Sheikh Salman al-Oadah

Question: I am a comedy writer, a stage performer, a director, and a dramatic actor. I read a hadīth in which the Prophet spoke of woe on a person who makes others laugh by speaking lies. I stopped all of my activities and now look forward to you for fatwā on comedy writing.

Answer: Al-Salām `Alaykum wa Rahmah Allah wa Barakātuh. The hadīth that you mention is referring to the telling falsehoods about supposedly true events. This could be by changing the facts about something that actually took place or by imagining something that never took place and then telling others that it had actually occurred. The actual forbidden act is to tell others of false and untrue events. However, if you imagine a story which is known to your readers or listeners to be fictitious, this is not the same as telling lies. This is only an expression of your imagination I hold the opinion that it is permissible for you to write comedy stories, particularly if you aim to use them to highlight moral behaviors and for other positive objectives. Our Islamic nation is in need of intellectual and artistic activities that promote decent values. By doing so, you are in fact providing a lawful alternative to the bad and immoral messages that are so widespread in the arts these days.

Source: Sheikh Sāmī al-Mājid

 


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