Writing Fiction & Poetry: What Does Islam Say?

Islam is the religion of creativity. It urges its followers to be active, creative and imaginative. While being imaginative, Muslims should never forget that they are living on the surface of the earth and that their vocation and noble mission to stand up for truth and support right. It is not suitable for any Muslim to talk about the sweet dreams and the funny ideas while the aches of Muslims could be heard everywhere; rather, our literature should be the voice of our reality, the image of our selves, the depiction of our maladies. It should stand as a prescription of medication and a recipe of remedies.

Islam calls upon Muslims to make use of every branch of knowledge to enhance their link to their Ummah and their sense of belonging. It cries for poets and men of letters and stresses that their works should be dedicated for the benefit of the total tapestry of the Muslim nation and serve its causes. In this context, it is notable that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, supported Hassan ibn Thabit, the well-known Muslim poet who defended Islam and used (the Prophet) to say: “Say! And Gabriel supports you!”

This shows how high esteem does Islam gives to poets and men of letters who use these talents to serve their nation and bring benefit to people not those supporters of nakedness who use the Divinely-gifted talents in attacking decency and demolishing morality and spreading vice in the Muslim society.

Here is the fatwa issued Sheikh `Atiyyah Saqr, former Head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee. The fatwa reads:

“There is no harm in writing fiction, be it stories or poems, as long as it is written for a good purpose or for brushing aside evil, like stories where animals speak as if they are humans or take on allegorical roles. The criterion here is that authenticated matters of the religion should be kept intact. Also, this writing should not be taken as a means to an evil end, and no evil consequence should result from this writing. In Islam, “harm should neither be inflicted nor tolerated” as is stated in the Hadith.

Some scholars, however, maintain that it is not allowed to write fiction. Their argument may be that such stories may contain falsified statements and thus are considered a waste of time. To them, these falsified statements lead to evil and should be avoided. They say that one should instead follow the manner of storytelling used in the Qur’an.”