Islamic Accuracy in Muslim Kidlit
When a writer/author tackles a project to channel their talents towards spreading Islamic knowledge, this is where the world of literature crosses paths with the religious one.
In the Muslim world there are processes put in place where all Islamic literature, children's and others, need to be approved before they are publically sold in order to ensure the books contain information that is authentic. These processes include a team of qualified scholars who have a formal education in different Islamic sciences. This avoids the spread of unnecessary misinformation to the public at large.
So what happens in the western world, where these processes don't exist? This is where we run into huge issues. 🌕
1. Many times, self-proclaimed Islamic books do not include any references used for their content (we are slowly getting better at this but much more needs to be done)
2. Making statements on deep concepts in Islamic theology that sound wonderful in language and ideas, but has no basis in our religion and is inaccurate. (Usually personal analysis or philosophical ideas)
3. Embellishing details in stories or events to make it more entertaining to the reader while we do not find proof to support them (I have seen this mainly on seerah books for kids)
4. Including illustrations that depict prophets, sahabas, angels or iblis.
5. Downplaying or endorsing the the celebrations or holidays that go against Islamic protocol (usually comes at a cost of compromising Islamic beliefs)
6. Claiming something as a religious deed without sound proof or reference (when there is confusion between cultural traditions vs. religious teachings)
So who should take responsibility for ensuring the Islamic information included in these books are true and authentic? Both, the author and publisher, of course.
We can't rely on external channels to filter through the Islamic content, like in the Gulf countries. It is imperative that due diligence is done to research the correct information from the right sources. (I am not talking about google searches). The publisher should not pass on the onus completely on the author as they share the profit on the final product.
What should we expect as consumers, who want to have high quality, reliable content in books about faith?
1. All books deemed to be Islamic MUST include citations from the sources to support what they are preaching. Ie: Qur'anic ayat, authentically proven hadith or texts from known prominent scholars of Islam. (If your local imam says 'I approve', kindly ask him to provide sources mentioned)
2. Stick to what we know best. Getting tangled into philosophical ideas only cause confusion with our little one.
3. This is where the writer's talents come at play. Constructing sentences beautifully to make the factual stories engaging without sidetracking into something that has no religious claim.
4. Avoid illustrations that are obvious to put our akhirah at risk.
5. Highlight and emphasize our Muslim celebrations and holidays.
6. Research, research and more research. If the content you are working on brings doubt in its authenticity and isn't endorsed by major contemporary scholars, it is best to avoid it to be on the safe side.
This is based on my personal experience from reading different types of content from various publishing options. I would love see similar guidelines to be used in both Islamic books as well as Muslim books. (I have posted about the difference between the two previously).