Fiction and the Sacred Law

Last year I wrote about science fiction as a vehicle for Islamic didacticism and better futures. This prompted several people asked whether there were any fatwas that support this. The image below shows a fatwa from Al-Azhar concerning stories that include fictional elements. The basic gist is that it is permissible provided one does not declare an established fact (especially a religious fact) to be false. (And Allah knows best.)

Al-Azhar fatwa on fiction

  • Hussain Khan

    Salaam alaikum,

    Brother Furber, I care deeply about the depiction of Muslims in literature and media and find myself repulsed at the Orientalist tropes that besiege people’s imagery of us. However, as someone who deeply cares about the craft of writing and the value of narrative, I don’t merely want to churn out essays and propounding my views in the disguise of fiction. That seems condescending and dismissive to the subtlety of creating art. It is from the Qu’ran people should seek out moral values, not me or any other writer. At the same time, the nature of this world is that it is a grisly one, and I don’t want to shy away from its illicit immorality, and without being indulgent or excessive, wish to have it featured in stories I’m writing. So I’m caught in a bind: I feel it unrealistic and uninteresting /not/ to depict sin and its (dangerous) consequences, but also feel dishonest/cliche about being a pure moralizer through text.

    In light of this fatwa and your own knowledge, do you have any advice for Muslim writers of fictional prose? Are we under the same provisions as those who depict illict images in picture and film? Does our niyya matter? Does the fact our works are clearly novels (fictional works), and perhaps featuring a disclaimer we emphatically do not condone or approve the choices of our characters, does that all matter?