Are We Missing Something?
Blog Post 26
December 2, 2019
Fiction is not a waste of time.
When Inked Resistance Islamic Publishing set out a little over two years ago to establish an Islamic fiction publishing company for young and new adults, Al-Hamdulillah, we saw it as
“an attempt to offer Muslim youth a stepping stone, a light,
a rope to hold on to, in order to extricate themselves from the confusion
and to provide them with the knowledge that truth is justice,
justice is love and others believe as they do.”
Yet it seems some Muslims are slow to get on board. Perhaps it’s guilt that keeps some Muslims from taking
the time to enjoy a good book, a fictionalized tale, when there’s so many non-fiction books they’ve yet to read. Perhaps they feel that the only book they should be reading is the Holy Qur’an and Islamic how-to books, as in how to be a better Muslim. We’re not denying that Muslims must read the Holy Qur’an every day, and not just recite selections of it in their salat, and such reading must be done with understanding and implementation. No one’s saying we shouldn’t be consuming non-fiction Islamic books, about Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala, the Sirah and Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him and his family, history, spirituality, jihad al-akbar, hadith, the companions and the lovers of Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala, fiqh…
Unless you’re in an overly strict Muslim school, you are reading fiction, if not just for school work, then cause you love it. So let’s be honest.
Is the fiction you’re reading Islamic?
Can you share what you’re reading with your parents, your Imam?
Well-intentioned people have given us all kinds of tips about how to encourage support of Inked Resistance Islamic Publishing’s history-making endeavour. Put the books on sale. Offer a free gift. Conduct a book reading. Give a discount for buying more than one item. Give a discount for the first selected number of buyers. Provide free shipping… All worthy ideas, but…
Inked Resistance Islamic Publishing is a small independent company, running on sales alone. There is no endless treasure chest of money, no benefactors, no philanthropists, no strings.
We sell the way we want to be sold to.
Up front and sincere. No gimmicks. No persuasive underhanded advertising. The books cost what they do cause that’s what they have to cost in order for us to continue running and publishing. Perhaps in the near future prices can come down, but not now. Don’t forget that books are not perishable, like a cup of coffee and a donut are. As a consumer, if you need a freebie to purchase, you’ll be out of luck. If you’re waiting on a sale, you’ll have to wait a while. If you’ll buy if you’re one of the first ten or twenty or whatever, what’ll happen if you’re the eleventh, twenty-first? Would you be disappointed? Feel cheated? How would you even know?
Right now we can’t do book readings, personal appearances, etc. cause they cost money and time to put on. We can’t offer free shipping cause that’ll cut deep into profits. Just imagine if someone bought three books with free shipping. The cost to us for shipping those three books could potentially eat up the profit, depending on the location of the customer, leaving us behind and unable to continue. Instead, we’ve worked hard to find the cheapest shipping methods available for our customers.
Amazon? To sell on this gigantic corporation, there’s a prohibitive yearly fee and if the seller doesn’t sell a certain amount in a month, they have to pay Amazon that amount. So you’re paying Amazon when you don’t sell and when you do sell. They gobble the profit. Inked Resistance Islamic Publishing isn’t interested in making the neo-cons richer. In fact, we refuse to do that.
Muslim schools are a fantastic place for fiction, but some don’t seem interested in our books, even for high school students. Reasons given are there’s a birth scene in The Sandhills of Arabia and the politics. Yes, the politics. So what are the students reading in these Muslim schools? Any fiction? Un-Islamic, secular politics, anti-God themes? Or are the Muslim schools waiting for someone else to publish Islamic fiction that’s right up their alley? With “safe” topics, baby stuff, unreality.
Masjids have bookstores and libraries. Inked Resistance Islamic Publishing’s books should be in them. But some masjids say they’re not interested in fiction or they don’t even respond. Why? Politics. Scared of ruffling whom? Censorship? Money?
When we look at the offerings of Islamic fiction out there, we understand why those books are a-okay in some people’s eyes, why they’re selling and why non-Muslim publishers even publish them. Their themes don’t rock the boat, don’t offer power to Muslim young and new adults, don’t talk about messy stories and expose violent upheavals and oppression, the reality of this world.
It seems that Muslim young and new adults are viewed
as simple-minded people who can’t take reality or don’t want morality.
For sure, you’re a vulnerable cohort, trying to find yourselves, your niche, the way you want to live your lives. So the corrupt west sticks out its hand to guide you, a sticky amoral appendage that drags along the ground sucking up every person they can, addicting you to social media likes and thumbs-ups, crushing your souls, isolating you, forcing you to cry when you see the lies others are living, all glamour and body, all muscled and made-up, the pressure of the status quo, the way to be, the way to think, the way to look, the way to feel.
Write short blogs, people tell us. Put how long it’ll take to read the blog at the top. No one reads more than a few lines anyway. They’ve got better things to do. They’ll bookmark it and never return.
We can’t tone down the length, the complexity, the time factor. We know young and new adults can read. We’re not going to be culpable in the dumbing-down of the generation, those who get their fixes with memes and visual one-liners, read and forgotten, and on to the next post, the next big thing, the next minute, always checking and scanning and clicking and responding, afraid to miss something, afraid to miss out on what’s happening, phones permanently attached to their palms, eyes going nearsighted, thumbs swiping, screens blinking and shining and buzzing all night long on the bed, worried.
The society that can’t take the time to savour ideas,
understand information, read between the lines,
critically determine what’s true and false is in for more of the same –
being led by the nose ring down the path to no return.
Life isn’t fast and furious. Take time to make your own mark, be different from the crowd, read what makes you think and act with integrity and sanity. Be yourself. Smell the roses. Don’t be afraid to be alone with your thoughts.
Inked Resistance Islamic Publishing views Muslim young and new adults differently. We know you face a dilemma, especially those living in the west. We faced it too. But, Al-Hamdulillah, Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala saved us from the brink of the pit of Hell, a place no one wants to be perched at here or in the Hereafter. You know the Truth. It’s written in your dna. You stand for justice, ever since childhood. You question and inquire and debate and search. We want to help you keep up, stand tall, face corruption and fear and the fastness with courage and love. We want to show you that your ideas aren’t wacky or wrong, that there’s others who think like you do, and you’ll survive if you hold on to the rope of Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala with all your might.
It’s time for Muslims to understand that praying and fasting
and attending the masjid are not all that Islam is.
Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala wants us to enjoin the good and forbid the evil, stand up for the oppressed, disassociate from the Yazids of today, fight the good fight, be kind and gentle to each other and right the wrongs. Our young and new adults know this to be true. The vacuum that results in pious behaviour juxtaposed against weak apolitical stances threatens our next generation. The hypocrisy of acting like a Muslim within our homes and masjids and bowing to the secular countries, policies and injustices we find ourselves living under, not making waves, scared that we’ll lose everything we’ve worked so hard to get, masquerading as Moe and Henry and Jasmine, instead of as who we recognize as the exemplary characters of Islamic history, the lovers of Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala, will backfire on us.
No one wants to live as a slave.
Taking the power out of Islam makes slavery imminent.
So skewed logic says, better not to even be Muslim from the get-go. But we must ask ourselves why Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. Is it because we value people regardless of their ethnicity, nationality, gender? Is it because there’s no middleman in between Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala and us? Is it because we are welcoming in our masjids? Is it because our faith is not culturally tainted? An honest answer is because Islamic injunctions combine spirituality and worship of our Creator with right living and power, the power to stand up against injustice, the power to speak out without fear, the power to enrich the lives of the oppressed through charity and caring and not bowing to the capitalistic system that tramples the weak, dehumanizes the other, imprisons the truth-sayers, drone bombs humanity and destroys the world’s resources.
No right-minded person would join a religion that takes a backseat,
saying it doesn’t concern me, when the world faces unjust wars,
persecution, execution and theft of land and property.
That’s not what any of the Prophets of Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala came with.
It’s not a turn the other cheek thing, that lie that says sure take from me and here take this too. Don’t fight Caesar. Obey your master.
Inked Resistance Islamic Publishing is “a modest effort to fill the gap we see, to encourage our Muslim youth, strengthen their faith, hope and identity.” We publish “worthwhile, enlightening and enjoyable fiction.” We imagine our work “could draw back anyone who is lost on the path and light the darkness for those who have not yet submitted to Allah, the Most High, our Creator and the Lord of the Worlds, Glory be to Allah, inshallah.”
Fiction allows us to recognize that human beings suffer
by drawing us into their mental, emotional and physical states,
letting us feel the world through their eyes.
Human rights can be taught through fiction. Justice and truth and empathy and hope can be expressed through fiction. Immersing yourself in the character’s life, traveling along with them, helps us to be human, by viewing their perspective, contemplating how they experience reality, hearing their voice. Fiction can help us gain a profound appreciation of life and our roles in protecting each other and the world with compassion and open-mindedness. It keeps apathy at bay, disrupts egocentricism, blurs the lines between self and other. Fiction builds moral and spiritual character by engaging our emotions, our heart, our soul, with universal truths and real life dilemmas, and assists us in understanding the inner lives and dialogue of others and ourselves so we can make sound decisions and interact with kindness and wisdom across familial, social, cultural, religious and political settings.
So the bottom line is – either you’re in it and understand the need for Islamic fiction or you don’t. Either you want to read Islamic fiction or you don’t.
Inshallah, we’re not missing something.
Those who can’t or won’t understand what they’re missing are missing.