I’m not a scholar but I will try my best to shed some light on the matter with some common sense and personal experience. So, let’s rephrase the question a little bit in order to answer this controversial topic in the ummah.
Do you consider the stories your parents and family members told you throughout your life to teach you a morale all lies? Additionally, do you consider the scenarios your teachers gave you in class all lies? Fiction is a series of scenarios (plots) and stories.
Of course when the question is phrased these ways, it’s hard to call your relatives, teachers and even people you hold dear: transgressors. Right? I will answer ‘Yes’ for you. Now, even if they made up the stories, you will realize that there was a reason behind the stories they told you. It was either to solve a problem, to deliberate on a case, to teach you a morale, etc. It truly depends on the intention and it is upon intention we will be judged too.
So what’s the difference between oral storytelling and written storytelling?
In my opinion, there is no difference between the two in essence and in form. Only the means of communication changes; al qalam, the pen.
Allah is the Greatest of Storytellers, and He told the pen to write. He is the Author of all things in this life and beyond. He chose to bestow part of this attribute to selected scribes in this dunya. If you are a writer, you’ve been chosen as a serious scribe. Honor the art and do it justice by penning true and relatable stories.
Therefore, when discussions of haram and halal start about Muslim Fiction, take a moment to think for yourself and do what your fitra agrees with. Do some istikhara if you need to and carry on. Don’t let people even if they appear religious and are ‘deening’ tell you what’s right or wrong. Go by what your gut tells you. That’s what matters at the end of the day for the sake of your happiness. Don’t be afraid to stand out. Allah didn’t create you to blend in anyway. This is to say that only His opinion of you should take the front seat; nothing or no-one else’s opinion.
Writing is maroof, a good deed. It has always been one. Through fiction, Muslim writers have always extended dawah, entertained as we have to uphold a life that reflects five before five, and portrayed a realistic lifestyle.
Why should that be or treated haram when the reader can relate with the experience and often strive to hold on to his or her deen better as a result of reading a good piece of fiction?
Muslim Fiction is usually written with a purpose. What I actually think is haram is writers and editors trying to portray a Muslim who has no jihad of any sort. If you write a perfect character when there is no human on earth who is perfect, subhanallah your writing is haram to me. Yes, I flipped the table.
Why? Because you’re lying to your reader and to yourself. Be real when you write. Don’t sugarcoat it. Showcase the truth out there. Pen a story that will motivate a reader to do good, to do better, to know that it’s human nature to err and that Allah is oft-forgiving.
Additionally, purify your intentions and strive to weave in Al-Ghaffar and Al-Ghafoor in your plot in a subtle way so that your work doesn’t turn off the reader right off the bat. How do you think secularism in the ummah became so predominant today? It’s because of the material we’ve been exposed to. From TV to shows and norms, almost everyone has learned to remove Allah from the picture like we just appeared here on our own.
It’s ungrateful and that’s the reason sometimes people aren’t truly happy and successful. Wittily and genuinely include Allah in everything you do, and success will run after you subhanallah. Well, your definition of success that is. Anyway, it’s how you will show your gratitude to Allah in subtle ways for creating you and letting you take things for granted.
Muslim Fiction is very powerful and let me give you some personal examples. I read an okay story about a djinn a few years ago and it helped me better my deen. Before reading that story, I was never consistent with saying dua before entering or leaving the bathroom. It was a raunchy and eerie comment made by that character djinn that prompted me to never-ever forget to say dua upon entering and leaving the bathroom alhamdullilah.
Let me give you another example. In this one, you will realize that Muslim Fiction fosters research. I briefly read about a character giving seventy excuses to another Muslim character and that made me ponder that day. I had never come across a scripture mentioning something similar. I sat off to research the authenticity of this mention and I found the basis and foundation behind those words. See, a subtle dawah mentioned triggered something in me that day and I pursued more ilm. Five before five and when you go by that motto, you will find Allah in all these outlets bi’ithnillah. And there are many countless instances like these two I ran into. Alhamdullilah.
Now, let me dive in a little deeper.
Can we talk sex in religion class and not in fiction?
Again, let’s be real. Is everybody doing it or not? If yes, it should be addressed in fiction too so that the readers know that the characters are aware of intimacy’s etiquettes. Why would you address everything else in fiction when Islam is a balanced way of life and keep the sex out of it? If you keep it out of it, again you’re doing something haram by portraying wrong facts. Your prudity has nothing to do with hayya.
I can understand if as a writer you expertly close the bedroom door, don’t feel bold enough or if you just don’t feel comfortable penning such material. Besides, we all can’t write about the same saturated stuff. This just entitles you to your opinion. Absolute and unanimous ijma in the ummah has never been a realistic thing to shoot for according to the sacred texts anyway. Allahu alim. It also means that you simply can’t declare erotic content in Muslim works totally haram when other writers feel bold enough to dab that way and test their creativity gifts. I just won’t go along with it.
Spirituality and sex merge in REALITY. And here is why; it’s an act of worship.
Don’t you praise your Lord to guard you from Shaytan before the act? If not, look up the dua. The dua asks Allah to preserve the possible offspring from the devil too.
Imagine a non-Muslim picking up such a book and realizing that Islam is so beautiful that it has an etiquette for something as misunderstood like sex. Imagine the class and intellect it portrays to that person when they read about Muslims who have manners and put thoughts in things they do. Imagine them coming to the conclusions that good Muslims aren’t animals when they copulate. Imagine them thinking that real Muslims aren’t vapid. Finally, imagine them realizing that Muslims actually have fun while having sexual intercourse. Ponder!
Muslims have ways to do things and carry themselves and that’s what we should all realize. So what you should get from this post is that Muslim Fiction or halal intimacy in Muslim Fiction is halal and maroof in my opinion. It falls in the category of good deeds. Take it as sex education in a private setting, outside the classroom and in a more fun context. For me, it becomes haram when the truth is not portrayed well or at all.
In that moment, you’re bordering on lies and that’s haram. Allahu alim.