Anas(May Allah be pleased with him) said:
The messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “indecency does not leave anything untainted and decency does not leave anything ungraced and embellished”.
The beautiful above hadith is a clear indication that indecent behavior or indecent choices leaves a slight taint on our lives forever. Islam demands decency and modesty in behavior, manners, speech, sight, touch and in anything and everything related to a Muslim’s life.
‘Reading’, a word defined by the Cambridge dictionary as “the skill or act of obtaining information from books”– a simple and comprehensible definition of a word, that appears to be an uncommon hobby of the youth today. Besides functioning as a means of improving a person’s knowledge, the act of reading often serves for a person’s leisurely goals. Many a soul these days loves to read – reading newspapers, magazines, short stories, novellas and then comes the most controversial genre of novel.
Novel reading seems to be a tedious task for people with a deviating mindset. Reading a whole book of nearly 250-400 pages seems to be an arduous task demanding patience, hence most readers do not venture into the realm of novel reading. And the few who do take up a liking to reading novels, often end up making wrong choice of books. Many others at large who choose varied genres of literature do tend to make wrong choices as well.
Speaking of the present Islamic generation, a majority of the Muslim youth and adults alike, are entangled in the vice of reading indecent literature, just for the sake of amusement or for the process of bragging to be the ones with a modernized and modish choices of books.
The predominance of obscene language in the present day literature makes it difficult for readers to distinguish between books of a higher and lower standard. The biggest problem lies in all the fuss created by the social media regarding certain books that are way too famous and sell like hot cakes but alas! are of a substantially lower standard when compared to the Islamic standard of reading.
Choosing books the Islamic way:
Being a Muslim is a responsibility within itself. Before doing anything doubtful we should firstly question the conscience “Can we answer about this deed to Allah (SWT)?”. A single question is enough to influence our preferences. The same applies to books.
- Self analyzing whether the book is worth reading keeping in mind our relation with our creator?
- Reading a review of the book prior to purchasing or downloading the book.
- Reading a short excerpt of the story will give a brief idea about the plot – as to whether it falls under the sub-genres of romance, detective, thriller, and so on.
- Avoiding books that project immoral relationships between the characters.
- A perusal of the reputation of the author goes a long way. Most of the times the debut book of the writer defines the status of the books that succeed.
Many a times it is misstated that the Western compositions are the ones padded with unethical elucidations. However an unbiased study of literature along the historical line shows that not all westernized writers or books are of an unacceptable standard. Scrutinizing some classic books of English literature gives an insight into how, morality and modesty were held in high esteem by old school writers. A personal experience has led me to believe that English classic literature has provided readers with the most decent works that are cherished even to this day.
In the contemporary era a majority of the authors from all over the world (be it the western or eastern ones) seem to exploit the concept of freedom of thought, expression and speech to a high degree in their literary works. Even the south-Asian literary scene is stuck by immorality. Sarcasm, profanity, and vulgarity written down in the form of a book is being held in high regard. Islam is against the unnecessary display of intimacy be in in books or on-screen. Islam teaches us to stay away from anything that pollutes our thoughts and character.
The younger Muslim generation seems to be carried away by books and authors that seem to be the happening ones, the ones that write with no aim of sending a message to the audience, the ones that write to mislead the youth by integrating unnecessary sexual references in a plot that does not demand one. Sadly a great number of Muslim youth have fallen prey to the act of reading such books of an unchaste nature. Where as books when chosen the right way become our companions for a lifetime.
Why avoid indecent literature?
Reading any piece of literature for fun or amusement is not prohibited in Islam, unless it exceeds a certain set of rules. Reading books with erotic and obscene language have way more disadvantages give for a few moments of enjoyment.
- It leads us on a haram path, craving for more such immoral texts, and acts that follow.
- Anything that serves as a bridge to reach a major sin, also falls under the category of sin. So it is best to nib the evil in the bud.
- Young readers start fantasying about physical desires with the opposite gender.
- It leads to an addiction for books with a lewd and profane language.
- It leads a believer astray from the path of Emaan. Has not Allah (SWT) asked us for forsake evil deeds?
- A wastage of the precious time, with no reward either in this world or the hereafter.
Islam is a religion that demands purity of mind, body and soul. Feeding the mind with corrupt and unscrupulous thoughts based on the ideas one gains by reading such filthy literature, not only disturbs a modest thought-process, but also sabotages that strong wall of faith between Allah (SWT) and his slave.
On a final note, this life is nothing but a forbidden fruit of temptation. Satan awaits with a bowl of the forbidden fruits from dawn till night falls. The faith and trust we place in our creator, and the love and respect for our beloved Prophet (PBUH) are the only weapons to fight temptation, and to pursue a stronghold on our Emaan. Finally I end with a thought-provoking hadith, with a choice between heaven and hell.
Anas ibn Malik (RA) reported:
The paradise is surrounded by hard-ships,
and the Hell-fire is surrounded by temptations.
Zehera is an Indian expat living in the U.K. An avid reader of good fat books, she also has a keen love for the art of writing. She blogs at “The Inquisitive Mind” (https://hubbhalal.wordpress.com/). She writes on topics related to Islam, book reviews and at other times about halal beauty products and ingredients.