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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

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Questions and Answers About Islamic Fiction

Q. Isn’t writing, publishing, and reading fiction stories the same as telling lies?

A. Absolutely not. 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. Sheikh Sâmî al-Mâjid stated that 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. Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

Q. Is it wrong for Muslim fiction writers to have their Muslim and non-Muslim book characters doing unIslamic things such as drinking alcoholic beverages, dating, or having sexual relations outside of legal marriage?

A. The Islamic Fiction author is careful to point out through the story-telling that these types of conduct are wrong. When describing unIslamic conduct, the writer is careful not to use vulgar language, write sexually explicit descriptions, or show Islam in a negative way. We must remember that it is not Islam that is in error but the book characters that are in error. Real people, both Muslims and non-Muslims, are not perfect, and the Islamic Fiction writer strives to make book characters believable without being offensive. The primary goal of Islamic Fiction writers is for readers to enjoy a good story and learn something beneficial about Islam.

Q. There are fiction books written by Muslims that contain vulgar language and sexually explicit descriptions in the stories. Some of these books have included content that is negative about Islam. These books have Muslim characters and the stories include content about Islam. What kind of fiction books are these? Are they Islamic Fiction books?

A. The harmful content in this kind of book disqualifies it as an Islamic Fiction book by the definitions provided on this website. The book is a fiction book. There is Islamic Fiction or Fiction.

Q. I am confused. What is the difference between an Islamic fiction book and a fiction book when both are written by a Muslim?

A. A Muslim who writes Islamic fiction “intends” for the reader to learn something positive or beneficial about Islam by reading the story. An Islamic fiction book is considered a “religious-type” book. Aya or hadith don’t have to be quoted or referenced, but the character(s) in the story will be shown to be behaving Islamically or may have to make a decision and will choose based on an Islamic practice and/or belief. The author will not include sexual content, vulgarity, or include content that is untrue or negative about Islam. If the author includes content about a book character doing something unIslamic, in the story the author will show that conduct as unIslamic. The author doesn’t need to have a billboard or red flag waving to do this.  It is all about the showing not the preaching and telling.

If a fiction book is written by a Muslim and does not meet the criteria/definition of Islamic fiction, the book is simply a fiction book.  Some examples are below to help clarify:

1) The fiction story does not have any religious content and there isn’t a reference to Islam through the author’s story showing. The story could be halal (permissible) because it doesn’t have any harmful content. Think of this kind of fiction story like the many mainstream fiction stories that don’t have harmful content, yet they are not Islamic in any way in the content.

A Fiction book like this might be a nice story about the culture of a country, about nature, or any other non-harmful topic. The Muslim writer does not intend for the book to be considered a “religious-type” book.

2) The fiction story is written by a Muslim but there aren’t any Muslims in the story. There isn’t any religious content or reference to Islam. The story could have harmful content or could not have harmful content. The book is Fiction.

A key factor in determining if a book is Islamic fiction or not is whether the reader learns something beneficial about Islam by reading the story. The author has the intent when writing the story. Intentions are very important in Islam. Intent can be measured by the actual Islamic benefit of having read the story.

An Example Demonstrating Islamic Fiction

A young 9 year old non-Muslim girl belongs to a friendship group that includes two Muslim girl friends. This young girl’s grandparents are hosting two Saudi Arabian police officers by having them live in their home while the officers are in the USA for a year attending police training and learning English.

At school there is a poetry contest and all the girls write poems and enter it. The Poetry reading competition is set for Monday when all the kids entering a poem will read them in front of the judges, family and friends. On Friday just before the kids are released from school, one of the young Muslim girls learns that her poem was disqualified because she wrote the word Salaams and one of the reviewers said the poem was supposed to be in English. It is too late to do anything about this with the school officials Friday. the main character is very angry about what happened to her friend.

She makes a plan to picket the poetry judging on Monday and disrupt the reading and reciting of poems. She tells the two Saudi police officers about her plan thinking they will approve her defending her friend.

Instead one of the officers tells her the story about the Prophet (pbuh) solving the problem of putting the black stone back in the Kabal after it was rebuilt and the workmen were ready to fight over the honor of returning the stone.  The young girl thinks about this story and realizes that the Saudi officer was telling her that she should think of a peaceful solution to the unfair treatment that happened to her friend. No one preached to the young girl. No one told her she was right or wrong. The young girl and reader were shown how Islam is applicable to this modern day problem.

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