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IslamQA: The Islamic stance on writing novels

[1] Salam, don't know if this is the best place to ask, but I feel you give perceptive answers that make a lot of sense, & you have answered questions relating to writing poetry etc aswell as reviewed a contemporary romantic novel Ayesha At Last on your blog. Personally I hope to one day write young adult novels, except my story ideas are more supernatural like Harry Potter, however I have inner conflict as to how following a career like this will support me in my akhirah

[2] and if it would rather just be a fanciful waste of time. And I’m concerned about writing non Muslim characters (due to my fantastical setting). Sorry if this question is out of place I’ve done a lot of online searching to little avail. Thank you brother.

When it comes to art and literature, you only have to ask: Will the world be better off with this work existing? If it comes to a novel, ask, “Will readers be better off after reading this novel?”

It doesn’t matter at all what your novel is about, as long as you offer something that will help people in some way, whether it is giving them knowledge and insights, or hope, or consolation, or companionship. I have listened to the Harry Potter books from beginning to end possibly over 40 times (I listen to them with headphones when I’m trying to fall asleep), I love the Hogwarts atmosphere and it is one of the greatest blessings in the world, and one of the greatest good deeds, that J. K. Rowling has created a work that can give so much comfort and consolation.

I’m writing novels myself actually. I just finished an Islamic sci-fi romance novel, and I also finished my second novel which is about a young non-Muslim misogynistic guy who converts to Islam for the sake of a girl, has a terrible relationship life, discovers “true” artificial intelligence and becomes the richest person in the world because of that. I know spending time on novels is morally right and praiseworthy because I know people will glean many insights from them, find hope, and have a good time reading them.

Writing novels is like sitting down with someone and entertaining them and making them feel better, while also giving them knowledge. It’s a good deed and a great service to humanity as long the novel is life-affirming rather than nihilistic.

Followup Question:

Assalamu'alaikum, my question is related to the question that was asked about writing supernatural novels, is it okay to write about non Muslim characters? I'm uncertain about presenting a non Muslim culture yet know that is the only option when writing sci fi or fantasy. Many thanks

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There is no issue with that. Like I said in the previous answer, the only question you need to ask is whether people will be better off after reading your novel. A novel can provide companionship, or help a person understand social or technical issues, or motivate them to be better. As long as the likelihood of your novel being a positive influence is greater than the likelihood of it being a negative influence, then it is acceptable to write and publish it. It makes no difference whether your novel is about Muslims or non-Muslims, and whether it is about the real world or imaginary ones.

And God knows best.
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