Muslim Stories in Traditional Publishing
We commonly discuss the need for traditional publishers to give more opportunities to diverse authors to tell stories that reflect their truths. We have come to realize that those diverse voices seem to be chosen based on trending topics that feed the western/ Orientalist understanding of the people they are representing.
I understand that the lived experience of each individual holds great merit and their commitment to positively impact the struggling communities directly is invaluable. There is no denying that sharing those stories of perseverance, determination and good will in forms of children's books can be incredibly powerful. But how does that impact the reflection of an entire group when the same narrative is displayed in different forms?
When Muslim countries are consistently shown as uncivilized people who struggle with poverty, displacement, unjust traditions, children deprived of formal education - what kind of picture does that paint for our Muslim kids as well as their non-Muslim peers?
Now, does that mean these stories shouldn't be told? No, they need to be narrated, discussed and studied with our kids. However, we also need to make it our duty to seek and read them the other stories; stories with the representation that reflects a their daily lives. Stories that showcase Muslims thriving in those Muslim settings. Stories of geniuses and inventors, including women, who have contributed to many scientific fields. While some are slowly trickling in mainstream publishings, most of them are mainly found published by indie Muslim publishers or independently/self published.
What I don't want to see is assumptions being made about Islamic beliefs and practices formed by these repeated narratives in the stories about Muslims or Muslim lands.