From Mr. Darcy to Edward Cullen: The Dilemma of Literature in our Times

Parental Discretion advised. Explicit content in article, not suitable for all ages.

Recall Jane Austen’s book Pride and Prejudice: the picture-perfect scenery of Longbourn, and the inculpable longings of young girls wanting to be spotted by a suitable betroth, not to start premarital relations, but to be proposed to for marriage. Whether one was born in the ’70s or the ’90s, almost everyone remembers Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy in a love story set in 1800s, but still popular even today. And even if one has any “religious” objections to the book, one can’t deny that the novel remains a morally refined piece of writing.

I must confess that I was one of those young girls who fantasized about the intelligent and confident Elizabeth, and the gentleman Mr. Darcy, whose confidence was often misunderstood for haughtiness. I had my fair share of “Awww moments”, especially whenever Mr. Darcy made an effort to engage in a conversation with Elizabeth. However, throughout the book, the author never mentions any sensual immorality, nor does she make even a remote effort to insert physical contact between the characters who fall in love with each other. In fact, in many instances, even the details of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s communications are not mentioned, ostensibly so as not to corrupt a young reader’s mind.

Now let’s fast forward to the present time and take a look at one of the most popular love stories of our era, the Twilight Saga. Not long ago, I remember not giving my daughter permission to read the book. But as we all know, when you stop a kid from doing something, it only makes them want to do it more! So, she started reading it secretly, but soon felt the urge to confess after reading a few pages.  Alhamdulillah, for the fact that she cannot keep secrets from me. As a reward for her owning up to it, I rewarded her by giving her permission to read the book online, based on my awareness of the book as just a vampire story. Normally, I would read the book myself first or ask trustworthy sources about it, however, due to some other pressing matters, I didn’t do my homework in this case.

When the next book in the Twilight Saga called Full Moon hit the bookstores, I skimmed through it first. And I didn’t have to go beyond the second chapter, before I realized my mistake of allowing my daughter to read the first book. And alhamdulillah that she stopped at that.

Allow me to explain what I mean in the words of a young Muslim girl (college freshman), who described the series in the following sentence,

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Twilight series is nothing more than sex and sexual interaction between a human and a vampire!

Before I proceed, let me bring the readers’ attention to the fact that once most girls reach around 10 years of age, their feelings towards the opposite gender start changing noticeably. Boys start becoming less gross, and so does their “ickiness” factor. Suddenly boys appear cuter and nicer. Similar feelings emerge in boys as well about girls, but at a later age than girls.

These emotions are inevitable and quite natural. It would be almost abnormal to not develop any liking for the opposite gender; if not in preteen years, then definitely in teenage years. I’ve been through it, my friends have been through it, many young teens that confide in me have been through it (or are going through it now). Parents who think that their children don’t go through such a phase need to pull their heads out of the sand.

So, as a tangent, some points of benefit:

  1. Know that your child will go through this stage.
  2. Build a very friendly and trusting relationship with your child BEFORE they get to this stage (I discussed this in more details in parenting articles that will be published soon insha’Allah).
  3. Minimize and control the factors that will lead innocent crushes to the next step
  4. Let them breathe: allow room for mistakes. After all, remember, your kids are still humans.

Let’s get acquainted with the fact that occasional adoring of the opposite gender, also known as a “crush/puppy love”, is not wrong in itself, but to let the liking loose and to dwell in those thoughts may lead to questionable feelings or even actions. It is given that forbidding our youngsters from having crushes will only lead them to hide their true feelings from their parents; it is far wiser that parents focus on minimizing a simple innocent crush from progressing to the next step, rather than trying to suppress a natural feeling.

There are a number of factors that contribute toward developing, encouraging, and even accommodating a crush to the next step. Let’s not overlook that other than the weakness of our own nafs and giving into the waswas (whispers) from shaytan, our environment and society equally, if not more, contribute towards our culpable actions.

Within this environment, are the books and the literature that revolve around gender interaction, those that explicitly describe the development of a crush, provocation to take it to the next step, seed in ideas of how it can be done, and finally instigate the young minds to indulge more physically with the opposite gender, describing the details of physical relations between couples!

It is quite distressing to know that many parents do not filter the books that their children read, and undermine the potentially dangerous impact of literature on young growing minds. We are no longer living in the times of literature like Pride & Prejudice or Sense & Sensibility. Unfortunately, in our times, teenage-targeted books are becoming an outlet for “soft-porn” literature. A prime example is the following passage from the New Moon:

Edward seemed perfectly content to hold me in his arms, his fingers tracing my face again and again. I touched his face, too. I couldn’t stop myself; though I was afraid it would hurt me later, when I was alone again. He continued to kiss my hair, my forehead, my wrists…but never my lips, and that was good.

He caught my hand securely between his iron hands, ignoring my struggles when I tried to turn my head away. “Please don’t,” I whispered. He stopped, his lips just half an inch from mine. “Why not?” He demanded. His breath blew into my face, making my head whirl. [After a confession of loving her forever and ever]…

His mouth was on mine then, and I couldn’t fight him. Not because he was so many thousand times stronger than me, but because my will crumbled into dust the second our lips met. This kiss was not quite as careful as others I remembered, which suited me just fine. If I was going to rip myself up further, I might as well get as much in trade as possible. So I kissed him back, my heart pounding out a jagged, disjointed rhythm while my breathing turned to panting and my fingers moved greedily to his face. I could feel his marble body against every line of mine, and I was so glad he hadn’t listened to me—there was no pain in this world that would have justified missing this. His hands memorized my face, the same way mine were tracing his, and, in the brief seconds when his lips were free, he whispered my name.

When I was starting to get dizzy, he pulled away, only to lay his ear against my heart. I lay there, dazed, waiting for my gasping to slow and quiet. (New Moon, p. 511-12)

I cannot quote all the similar passages from the twilight book series, because there are many. Suffice to say, this series is full of erotic interaction between Bella and Edward with the side theme of the war of vampires. What will happen when a young girl is exposed to such sensual text? Will it not entice her sexual emotions, arouse her carnal desires challenging her with the fitan of the opposite gender? If a married woman reads such content, at least she has an outlet to satisfy her desires; but what will happen to a young girl who is already challenged with hormonal changes, who has no husband but unfortunately, has many outlets in the lewd society of our times to give in and experience what she reads?

I had once discouraged one of the mothers from allowing her daughter, 13, to read this series. Although, the mother had provided a strong Islamic upbringing for her daughter, unfortunately, she didn’t see eye to eye with me on this issue. Later, her daughter developed an internet relationship with a non-Muslim boy (who I believe was really a much older pedophile). She communicated in a way that no Muslim parent would want for their daughter or son. To make the long story short, when I spoke to the girl, she especially emphasized the dangers of reading books like the Twilight series and how it is different from watching a movie with indecent scenes. In her own words,

When you see such things, you only see what is playing on the screen, but when you read about such sensual engaging, you are free to imagine however you want to imagine it. When you watch a kissing scene or something like that, you don’t know the feelings, but the books go into describing the change of emotions and the feelings of the girl when a boy looks at her, tries to touch her, or holds her hand, or when he grabs her to kiss her; you can read how she feels and what goes through her mind, and then you want to experience those feelings!

Yet another college student wasn’t very pleased when her mother allowed her younger sister, 11, to read the series. She read her sister’s diary, and was telling me the changes it caused in her sister’s way of perceiving the boys. She said,

Once she started reading Twilight, all of a sudden her baby crushes changed from, “I think he is cute” to “I wonder how his lips would feel!”

I cannot describe the sadness I feel when I find our young tweens and preteens facing such situations while their parents are totally negligent of the dangers of such literature. My article maybe too late for many parents, but I’m sure there are many who may still benefit from this warning, insha’Allah.

At the same time, I do realize that it is not so easy to stop teenagers from doing what they want to, especially when there is a lot of peer pressure. This book is perhaps one of the most popular reads in our time, and anyone who hasn’t read it, remains “so out of it”. So how can parents convince their daughters not to read such novels? How can parents highlight to their kids the dangers of such literature that they can foresee? Many parents may forbid their children from reading the series, but how can they ensure that their children will not read it secretly?

My advice to the parents is to:

  1. Know and embrace your role as a parent.
  2. Develop a VERY friendly relationship with your children from an early age.
  3. Monitor their activities.
  4. Communicate. I am very liberal when it comes to the topics of communication between a mother and her children. And I firmly believe that a mother’s relationship with her child should be of the nature that even if a child has a crush, he/she should be able to share it with his/her mother.
  5. Be wise. The mother’s role is to know her child inside out and to provide guidance and help to steer their thoughts in a positive direction without getting on their nerves or sounding like a dictator (which is the harder part and I am still learning!).
  6. Be firm. As much as I encourage giving space to the children, I equally advise holding firmly to the reigns.
  7. Be a step ahead of your child.
  8. Be patient and make du’a.

Lastly, when banning certain books or movies, make sure:

  1. Talk to your children and layout the reasons why you want to ban the book.
  2. Give them space to refute, listen to them and re-emphasize your points of objection.
  3. Acknowledging to them that staying away from books/movies that are popular amongst their friends is not an easy task and requires a lot of courage, and you believe in their courage and strength.
  4. Appreciate them for obeying you.
  5. Be proud of them and show it both in words and actions.
  6. Reward them.
  7. Replace it with other books or activities. Consider the “classics” section of the library.
  8. Make du’a for them in front of them and especially behind them.
  9. Be prepared for slips. Even after taking all your precautions and adopting the best parenting techniques, know that you are not raising angels and they will, once in a while, give in to their temptations. As long as they are remorseful, do not be heartbroken and do not give up on your children.

Nevertheless, the struggles of the parenting continue. As much as I feel for our children, I do not have many alternatives to Twilight to offer them. How I wish we had more literature available with high morals yet in correspondence to our natural feelings, like we once had in the past.

Let me end this, with a beautiful quote from Pride and Prejudice, when Mary, merely a teenager, learns a lesson from the mistake of her younger sister’s elopement and reminds her other sisters:

“…that loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable — that one false step involves her in endless ruin — that her reputation is no less brittle than it is beautiful, — and that she cannot be too much guarded in her behaviour towards the undeserving of the other sex.”

May Allah azza wa jal help us all raise salih, strong, and pious children. Amin.

134 / View Comments

134 responses to “From Mr. Darcy to Edward Cullen: The Dilemma of Literature in our Times”

  1. AbuMarjaan says:

    Assalam alaikum,

    Masha Allah.. very useful advice. Jazaaki Allah Khair
    Umm reem, your children are blessed to get a muslimah like you as mother.

  2. firoz85 says:

    MashAllah sister loveley article wonderful depicting the rot of media. This deterioration is more so evident in the world of television . I remember growing up on the relatively decent ‘mind your language’ and ‘full house’ series and now you have ‘friends ‘ and what not ! Would be nice if you have a piece written on the decay of television too, would make another nice forward :)

  3. africana says:

    Interesting article, Ma sha Allah.

    I wish to warn parents of the dangers of unrestricted mixing even with other children. Some children who might have been sheltered from such loterature might, neverthe less, pick up these ideas from their associates. I know ogf one young Muslim girl was left in tears after another girl (also muslim) described, in a telephone conversation, how boys supposedly kiss girls in a secluded area of the playground at the second girl’s primary school.

    I have since discivered that the girl who described the scene of kissing is an aggressive and domineering bully, although to most she appears very demure.

    I believe tht part of the reason the girl behaves as such is because her parents, as recent economic migrants, don’t fully understand what is being said in the TV programmes to which she has access and are not able to monitor the literature that she’s reading.

    • Umm Reem says:

      yes, immigrant parents often develop the communication gap with their children, and have no clue what is being said in the tv series esp. for teenagers…and the book of course…

      nevertheless, this problem is not limited to west only. Twilight has made it to the eastern world too…

  4. AnonyMouse says:

    Brilliant and so true.

    The really sad thing is that while we want our kids to read rather than watch TV or movies or play video games all the time, the type of books available these days are just as/ more dangerous than the visual media!
    And too many Muslim parents are unaware of the dangers found in books like the Twilight series… and not just Twilight, but the Gossip Girl books and other series of a similar type (that basically glorify sex, money, cliques, and more).

    Anyway, the quality of writing in Twilight sucks :)

    • Umm Reem says:

      exactly mouse, that’s the thing…parents really don’t know what is happening and some totally underestimate the power of literature…

      i gave a lecture to the mothers while i was in houston this past summer, and i had a hard time convincing some mothers about how dangerous can the books be with inappropriate content…

      in all honesty, with the limited choice i have left for books, i would rather let my kids read harry potter than books like twilight…i don’t know about the Gossip Girl books, reem hasn’t asked me about them yet, LOL

      • ElvenInk says:

        Harry Potter 100% it is about standing up for what’s right, friendship, etc, and doesn’t have these terrible messages you mentioned in your article. I like your suggestion about going to the classics section for more moral alternatives. Things like the Hobbit, too, are quite good and it’s “famous” now because of the movies so kids won’t feel they’re missing out.

  5. Been There says:

    Assalamu ‘Alaykum,

    This all sounds great, but there is no ideal Islamic environment for our youth. Even the best environment — Islamic schools — is fraught with the Was Was of what lurks beyond — and indeed permeates — the Islamic bubble we try so sincerely to create for our kids. Twilight and skinny jeans have already taken over the Islamic school culture (or subculture). “Cool” to our middle and high-school students is what is on the other side of the fence ie. public school.

    The predicament today is that many if not most of our Muslim youth have already succumbed to Twilight and skinny jeans, so do we ostracize them from our own children? If so, we face rebellion and fracturing the Muslim community. In the end, as Sayedna Ali (RAA) taught us, we must befriend our youth in their third set of seven years (ie. ages14-21) so they can make their own choices.

    Meanwhile, what we are offering our children by way of alternative is a day late and a dollar short. Society and the Muslim community don’t sustain a purist life of Qur’an and Sunnah except for families and communities that are very tight and bolstererd by an extensive support network resourced with viable entertainment options for our youth. Meanwhile, the call of corrupting forces of the larger world in which we live must be reconciled by our youth. They themselves need to come to terms with them sooner or later: to make sense of the world around them and integrate, in sha Allah, what is good and beneficial into their hearts, minds, souls, actions, speech and intentions.

    Most of our youth flounder between separate worlds of home, school, the Islamic center, and society at large. They are seeking to make sense and integrate all of the reflections these environments mirror to them into one strong Muslim personality – their own personality (not Mama’s and Baba’s).

    Eventually, they will have to experience the Dunya for themselves and come to their own conclusions. Eventually, we have to cut the umbilical chord wa tawakalna ‘ala Allah.Beware of attempts to control and restrict too much. Eventually, in sha Allah, they will learn from their mistakes and seek to guide others just as we now seek to guide them. We can lead by example, but there is no compulsion in Islam.

    Our community and youth in particular are in need of sincere Duaa’. May Allah Al Jal wa Al ‘Ala bless and guide us all. Ameen.

    Barak Allahu feekum.

    • F says:

      I agree with you that we can’t control our youth their entire lives. That’s a folly many parents fall in thinking they can be sheltered. What’s more important is the realization that one day they will be on their own and our job as parents is to equip them with the tools to different the halal from the haram.

      Often I find the parents are too scared because they have not given the Islamic education of differentiating the good from the bad so they are terrified of letting go. They don’t trust even their grown up children (university onwards) to make the right decisions.

      Key is to educate them on the ideal but also talk to them about what exists in the dunya otherwise they will not know how to handle it when they meet the world.

    • Hena Zuberi says:

      @been there- Ameen to your dua. You bring up some great points-
      My biggest issue growing up was the fitting together of my different ‘faces’ -a different in school, another at home, in front of the Muslim community, another one in front of relatives. The hypocrisy was hard for me to keep up with myself- I pray that my children grow up with one face- the same whatever it is (hopefully one that is pleasing to Allah SWT) in front of everyone.

      True about Muslim communities as well. I was just having a conversation with a mom today who was tired of saying no to her daughter. She isn’t allowed to hang out with non- Muslim girls but her mom feels that her Muslim friends are leading her down the wrong path faster- suggesting she lie to her mom etc. If Muslim friends are at this stage in their imaan, who do they befriend and turn towards? At some point we do have to trust in our parenting and let them be-

      We can’t shield them from everything- true but we need to expose them to ideas in a controlled manner so eventually when they are faced with making choices they can make the right choice- Leaving them to experience the dunya on their own without preparing them for it would be a disservice to them.

      This rings so deeply with me-

      Be prepared for slips. Even after taking all your precautions and adopting the best parenting techniques, know that you are not raising angels and they will, once in a while, give in to their temptations. As long as they are remorseful, do not be heartbroken and do not give up on your children.
      Sometimes we are such high expectations from our children- May Allah SWT help us raise them right-

    • Umm Reem says:

      Ameen!

      This all sounds great, but there is no ideal Islamic environment for our youth. Even the best environment — Islamic schools — is fraught with the Was Was of what lurks beyond — and indeed permeates — the Islamic bubble we try so sincerely to create for our kids. Twilight and skinny jeans have already taken over the Islamic school culture (or subculture). “Cool” to our middle and high-school students is what is on the other side of the fence ie. public school.

      True, there is no ideal Islamic environment that we can offer our kids in our times unfortunately BUT we CAN offer them what we feel is ideal within our homes but NOT in a shape of bubble.

      Tell them what happens in the outside world so they are aware, but there is no need to expose them to that evil in the name of “immunity”.

      what i’m trying to say, for example, is that when i didn’t allow my daughter to read the series any fruther, i told her the reason. We have had already our “birds and the bees talk” but then i explained to her the dangers of reading such material…and how reading such sensual text may lead her to want to try out those things…
      we discussed the story of Juraig and the way shaytaan traps a person…i was very explicit in my explanation…because i believe that when we want our children to protect themselves from certain actions, we need to explain in details why and how etc. AND tell them what they are up against…it is not fair on them to be told partial information and expect a 100% “pure” result….

      In the end, as Sayedna Ali (RAA) taught us, we must befriend our youth in their third set of seven years (ie. ages14-21) so they can make their own choices.

      True, however, let’s keep in mind the first half portion of his statement too…the time of discipline/training/education comes between 7-14…we MUST not miss out on that.

  6. VikkLaiyho says:

    I think the double sense of morality from this generation parenthood is sad. I’m sure your child will be okay when she grows older, doubt her youth will be shadowed by reading such a lame and immature literature, perhaps you should read some good literature yourself too. If you want to make sure your daugther knows about sex the right way you should spend more time educating her about it, this will make sure wether she reads a sex novel or not her mind will be unharmed.

    • africana says:

      From what I’ve seen of Umm Reem, in comments and in her articles, she has done a good deal to demystify sexuality and the bodily and emotional changes that occur at puberty, ma sha Allah.

    • F says:

      Obviously you haven’t read the other articles advising parents on how to educate children about sex and maintain an open communication about the subject. What’s immature is to assume that children will not be harmed by sex novels because you’ve spoken with her. If this method was so great, the average age for losing virginity wouldn’t be less than 16.

      Wake up and realize children need supervision but not sheltering. They need to guided through the sex starved societies of today (east/west).

      Taking this one article to assume that parents want to hide sex away is not fair to the author nor to the readers.

      • Nazihah Malik says:

        I don’t think the issue here is to hide sex away from children. If I am not mistaken, the issue of Sex Ed has been addressed on this very blog.

        I believe what’s important is that books such as these are creating distorted images and experiences of “love” in a child’s mind (and yes, they’re children who are reading it). These images trigger certain emotions and hormones in one’s body, which also trigger biological/physiological changes which a normal person experiences in stages of intimacy.

        Aren’t these experiences one should feel after marriage, when one is in love with her husband ideally?

        secondly, what if the person this child ends up marrying doesn’t meet up w/ the expectations this child has been reading about for all these years? it causes frustration and tensions in the marriage.

        again, i’m only addressing this from a societal point of view.

        • Umm Reem says:

          If I am not mistaken, the issue of Sex Ed has been addressed on this very blog.

          InshaAllah there will be a series posted on children’s sex ed by the end of this month.

          secondly, what if the person this child ends up marrying doesn’t meet up w/ the expectations this child has been reading about for all these years? it causes frustration and tensions in the marriage.

          true…but for that matter even Mr. Darcy’s standard was difficult to meet up with being all rich, confident and handsome and what not, but top this with how Edward would give intimate attention to Bella after every five minutes, only makes it nearly impossible for any Muslim man to match this standard!

    • Umm Reem says:

      The solution, in all honesty, is not to educate our youngsters about sex. I have explained to my daughter far more than what many parents may allow their children to know. And subhanAllah, only by Allah’s Mercy I was able to do that…yet i keep her from this type of literature because, educating a child about this subject is VERY different than reading an erotic novel.

      Education, especially when done with the help of Qur’an, ahadeeth and in a sensible way, increase their awareness in a positive way and in some aspect increase their haya/shyness…
      these novels…really rip apart haya, morally corrupt them and arouse emotions and feelings, especially in girls, that doesn’t happen when you are simply educating them…

  7. Abdul Rahman says:

    Such great advice sister!

  8. UmmOsman says:

    Assalamo elikuim
    Jazak Allah khair for a wonderful article. I always love and learn a lot from your articles, keep writing and May Allah swt reward you for all the good you do, Ameen.
    Although my daughter is quite young, I will remember this once she is older :)
    Where as my boys,it will be a miracle to see them reading a book :) Alhamdullilah for this in this case:)

    Wasalam

  9. Mezba says:

    Perhaps we should develop Muslim “romance” stories (100% halal of course).

    Of course sometimes a book’s a book. Well brought up kids know to distinguish between right and wrong. Many of us grew up with Bollywood and we all turned out OK.

    • Amad says:

      I think Bollywood now is not the Bollywood of the old… I am visiting Pakistan and as I was flipping channels, I was shocked to see the costumes that are now rampant in these movies… I mean it was embarrassing just flipping through them! I’d say Bollywood, even without nudity (I think they still have some controls), is far more suggestive and disgusting now than Hollywood. Of course, not all fit the billing, but most do.

      • F says:

        I agree with you Amad.
        National Geographic once did a feature on Bollywood and the accompanying pics were so bad, they make many Hollywood movies look Victorian.

        Though I think Bollywood has always been bad. Before we were too young and naive to realize it.

        • S says:

          Totally agree. My parents watched movies back in the day but they always had a strong moral lesson behind it, it wasn’t always about love, and of course rarely ever had bad scenes in it.

          Now Bollywood is taking a lot from American movies, and Pakistani movies/dramas are taking their influence from Bollywood. Soon they’ll all be exactly the same, no matter what country they’re from.

  10. Mansoor Ansari says:

    Jazak’Allah Khair for this advice… even though my daughter has long time before she can read novels as she’s learning her ABCs now :), this advice will definitely come handy when the time comes.

  11. Asmaa says:

    Nice article sister..

    It scares me to see what the world is coming to..

    Dua is the most important factor.. I am single and the future of the coming generation worries me a lot.. Not just my kids, but what about their friends and the community as a whole..?

    You have been an awesome mother and Jazaaki Allaahu kul khair for sharing these valuable nasihas with us here :)

    It’s a sensitive issue but also something that should be ignored due to it’s sensitivity. I had instill patience in myself to read through this because the mere mention of few things made me uncomfortable.. I pray and ask Allaah to protect our children from this filth and keep their hearts pure and clean and their eyes on the goal..

  12. AMS says:

    Instead of just saying no, give them the cliff notes version and give them a link to the plot summary on Wikipedia.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twilight_(novel)

    Problem solved.

    • Umm Reem says:

      great suggestion!

      In fact, my daughter asked me to go through the series first and staple/blackout the text where they have the inappropriate stuff.

      First of all i wasn’t going through those thick books doing this. Secondly, I realized after flipping through a few pages in the series that throughout the book, the author has put too much emphasis on touching and looking and describing Bella’s emotions for Edward…it wasn’t like a “scene” after a few pages…it’s spread throughout….

    • someone says:

      That is great , in case they feel outcasted at school because there not hip with the trendy literature. When growing up i always though that my own parents did not understand that children are pressured everyday to conform. Not just from the pupils but also from the teachers themselves. Although you may teach them to distinguish right and wrong, its hard for them to stick with the choices they make. Especially if they are targeted , labeled or mistreated in school.

  13. S says:

    Wow that passage is horrible! I have never read the twilight books nor do I intend on reading it. But I can’t help but noticing most of the muslim girls middle to high school in islamic schools obsessing over it AND having their parents let them watch the movies. I don’t see any point in such reading that’s just meaning to arouse some girls, and I also don’t see a point in watching a movie where a werewolf or vampire takes his shirt off every five seconds! Women get more into the words and not the visuals, that’s why so many women read romance novels.

    The quote from the muslim girl who said Twilight is just about sex between a human and vampire is so true. I don’t see such a need for any books that don’t challenge your intellect at all. May Allah swt protect our young brothers and sisters. Ameen

    Another plus for Harry Potter Books series.

  14. Amatullah says:

    Let’s tell our kids to make dua for a pious spouse.

    Amatullah
    http://sisterswithpower.blogspot.com
    EMANcipate yourself

    • Umm Reem says:

      by all means!

      i had told my daughter to make du’a that Allah protects her from acting upon her crushes or falling in love wrongfully…and to make her amongst the salihaat….
      i also told her about a few disastrous love marriages in the family, and i think it helped her understand better, inshaAllah.

      i’m doing the du’a for her pious spouse myself for right now :)

      • n says:

        kinda off topic but the whole ‘love marriage’ label..sort of implies that the other marriages were some kind of ‘robotic’ business deal type marriages, where the partners were paired cuz they were ‘compatible’ on paper.

        i prefer the label ‘planned marriage’ :-)

  15. anonymous says:

    jazakallah khair for writing this sister, people really needed a heads-up on what’s going on in the teen community. I go to an Islamic private school and the Twilight series has been the “hot topic” for the last 5 years. At first, I wanted to read it so bad because EVERYONE was reading it. Then, I kept putting it off until later becaue I was too busy. Recently, I came to the conclusion that fiction w/o purpose is useless and a waste of time anyway because we are going to be asked on the Day of Judgement about how we spent our time. Guess Allah led me to a positive form of procrastination lol! But thanks anyway to highlight how bad “Twilight” really is. Sometimes parents need to be really shown in the face as to how BAD their kids’ books really are. I just wish there would be more ppl in the Muslim community who would write Islamic fiction.

  16. SA says:

    Salaam,

    A couple years back, I read Twilight. SubhanAllah, back then I was obsessed with them, and now I can see that the series is a horrible attempt at literature. I agree, it provokes so many thoughts and feelings in a reader, and that’s a reason why people are so attached to it. There is a good fictional Islamic series by Umm Zakiyyah. It is a trilogy, starting with”If I Should Speak”. MashAllah, it is a great series, May Allah SWT reward her for bringing forth an interesting and informative read! I believe it is a MUCH better read than Twilight or Harry Potter.

    • Hena Zuberi says:

      Two thumbs up for “If I should speak”- it is a powerful book about dawah, coming to Islam, college. I thoroughly recommend it as well.

      • Nayma says:

        Yes I read Umm Zakiya’s books too as my daughter did. Her books also talk about affection and love between spouses, etc. but in a beautiful wholesome way. She makes sure her readers get the main message, that whatever one does, Allah comes first in all thoughts and actions. Have you read them Umm Reem? I would love your input from them, especially her last book. Come to think about it, it would be great if we could go through each of the characters in her books and have an online discussion of them with our daughters!

        • Gul Jan says:

          And MashAllah Umm Reem what you wrote is amazing. JazakAllah. May God Bless You. My daughter is begging me to let her read Twilight and now that you gave me advice and light, i will take it. NEVER SAY NEVER.

  17. Well done, mash’Allah. Whenever giving some sort of public talk to the youth I always try to sneak in a way to go Wesley Snipes on Twilight =P.

    I think one powerful effect is to make use of the natural counter-culture that the Ummah creates, especially in the Western world. When the kids are told that they aren’t like the other boys and girls, or they don’t do the same things as the other boys and girls, you automatically instill that feeling of being different. Not being equal only has two possibilities, and the dangerous one is feeling inferior one way or another. Even the feeling of “I know it’s the right thing to do but I can’t” is a type of inferiority complex.

    You have to flip it the other way around. They have to be convinced that what they are doing is better, cooler, smarter and firmly have that ‘Izza of the Deen instilled in them in all its glory – without going too far and having an arrogant/holier-than-thou attitude or becoming isolationist.

    There are a number of ways of doing this, and it comes very naturally with Islam (alhamdulillah). All you have to do is make sure it’s not lamed-up by being poor Islamic role models or boring/mediocre (making them feel like they are uncool weirdos, as opposed to everyone else being the weird ones). Presentation is key in teaching. If you bring the strength, akhlaq, humility, fearlessness, beauty and true fun/enjoyment of Islam into them, it’s hard for anyone to resist for shallow alternatives.

    My favorite technique though would be the big brother/sister effect. If you get that older brother/sister or any sort of role-model that they follow around everywhere to show them that (even a cool group of friends), again, hard to resist (Kamal-el-Mekki / Saed Rageah just to name a few that have that effect going on, mash’Allah). This is where the University students have an extra-special responsibility to get their job done right.

    For those who haven’t always been practicing, think back, who were the people that influenced you?

    At the end of the day though, they will be the ones who make the choice sooner or later. The story of the son of Nuh alayhi salam comes to mind, but that shouldn’t be an excuse not to fulfill the obligations we have towards our youth and use every tool Allah has granted us.

  18. CA says:

    Reading such stuff also desensitizes teens to some extent.The next book they read has to be at least equally erotic than the last one they read or they loose interest in it.

    • Umm Reem says:

      exactly…

      a friend of my daughter started writing a story, and when i read it she had added kissing scenes in it and when i asked her she told me no one would read it if she doesn’t put this kind of stuff…not even the Muslim kids will read it!

  19. Abdul Rahman says:

    mashallah, a very useful and relevant article

  20. Anon says:

    Salaam!

    I think twilight was not as bad other books I’ve seen. I even remember someone telling me it was mild because Edward wanted to wait until marriage etc.

    Maybe it’s because im desensitised to kissing in stories.

    • Umm Reem says:

      here is the problem:

      If the book had said, “edward kissed bella” it would have been different….still bad no doubt, but unfortunately in our times even this is better, iyyadhobillah.

      but the book goes in great detail in describing how the kiss happened, and how was bella feeling emotionally and physically when he held her and started kissing her…excuse my explicitness but it is high time we realize the effect of this type of literature on young and even elder minds…
      ESPECIALLY females because they are more “imaginative” (unlike men who are more visual and perhaps that’s why TV is worse for boys than girls!)

      Our Muslim girls are falling for non-Muslim boys because that is a prime & easy “outlet” for them. Our girls are developing internet relationships while the parents are happy thinking that their daughters are at home “safe”!

      In the eastern world, girls who are “protected” in an all-girls school, are “experimenting” with other girls, a’oodhobillah…

      I do believe a lot can be prevented, firstly by du’a of course, and then by parents’ “positive” involvement in their chidlren’s lives…sadly though many times parents, who would shy away from explaining to the children about their body parts, would not mind at all buying them books like these!

  21. ahlam says:

    Well, these twilight series sound pretty disgusting everywhere I go. Nasty stuff. As for Jane Austen and her books,one word -modesty. She puts down a lot of her views from a moral perspective in the story.
    I read them for school and remember reading a passage were one of the sisters was told off by the mother for wearing inappropriate clothing,and many similar instances of discipline and behaviour etc.

    The funny thing is,I don’t think kids in my community have a knack for reading even. Which is a problem in itself. It seems that it has a lot to do with reading being ”uncool”.But then there is the fitnah of a particularly gross TV series here called ‘Eastenders’. So,I feel that TV has more of a grip on our kids (add in adults too) than Twilight-like books do.

  22. Haseeb J says:

    the quote at the end made my day, a nice read after those lengthy political posts

  23. Hena Zuberi says:

    Jazakillah Khair UmmReem, I am so glad your daughter is a couple years older than mine- you reach the tough stages and help moms like me prepare for them :)
    Thanks for bring this up. This is such an major issue.

    I was a voracious reader as a childhood and so far have survived by recommending books to my girls that I have read and loved. But my girls are growing up so fast, they will often come back from school or the library with books that I have not read. Some I try to read before they do but often I don’t have the time. I frequent review sites to read what other moms/reviewers have said about a particular book but so far have not found one that address Muslims specifically. Our standards are different.

    I find parents so grateful that their children are reading books instead of watching TV or playing video games that they will let them read anything; case en pointe the Twilight series being read by my 11-year-old cousin. Many do not realize that books can be as graphic as TV and can expose your children to ideas that they are not ready for or are just not ‘halal’ topics. We may never let our child watch an R-rated movie but we rarely wonder what is in some of the young adult books that our kids may read.

    “There is no standard at all,” says Luann Toth, managing editor of the book review section of the School Library Journal. “It’s pretty arbitrary. Publishers do their own thing. Unlike multimedia, which tries to have a standard, there is no equivalent in the book world.”

    My 9-year-old reads at a 13/14 year old’s reading level so if she picks up a “14 and up” book, all I know about it is it’s reading level, book ratings don’t give us a clue about its content.
    This inspired me to enlist my daughters & niece, ferocious readers, to start to compile a list of books that they think are great reads for Muslim kids. Included are series titles and stand-alone fiction that cover a variety of genres: fantasies, mysteries, thrillers, novels and historical fiction.

    Its a small little effort- we started over the summer-would Reem like to be a part of it? especially during the summers (no school !!)

    I invite moms and kids to submit reviews of their favorite books. I would like the contributors to include whether the book is appropriate for Muslim kids of a certain age ie 5-7 years etc.

    http://muslimslovetoread.blogspot.com

    • Umm Reem says:

      sure hena, inshaAllah, I will share with my sisters whatever helped me raise my children, but i must warn you that i am not half as good of a mother as it appears to be…only Allah has hidden my weaknesses…so don’t be disappointed :)

      And yes inshaAllah I would love to have Reem a part of this group!!

      the problem with my children is that they have read most of the series that were suggested previously for them…and especially now that we live in a country with no libraries…LOL…
      since i dont’ have a tv at home, my kids hobby is to read books, and because they’d been reading for so many years, they have started reading quite fast…so now i have to set limits on them on how many books a week they can read!!

  24. sharmeen says:

    ASA
    very useful indeed. thnks for sharing it . i would never be able to imagine all this without your article.

  25. Bushra says:

    As an avid bibliophile from the age of 6, I have read Pride and Prejudice 6 times (am going through it the 7th time around on my BlackBerry), the Harry Potter series twice and Twilight on its own just once. I’m gonna cut to the chase. It was pure rubbish. Like The Da Vinci Code (which was fun to read for its Sherlock Holmes-y nature), it didn’t stimulate or challenge my grey matter in any way possible and only dumbed down my reading level (I’m 24, but if I was 12, this would still be way too dumb and stupid for me!).

    Honestly speaking, I totally agree with Umm Reem about the dangers of reading teen ‘soft porn’ or ‘mild erotica’. Whilst men are more visually stimulated (hence why porn is a bigger problem for them more than it is for women), women are better with their imagination, which would explain the amount of girly romantic trash that are in the bookshops today. Believe me, we really do run away with our imagination when presented with such material.

    The problem with Twilight is that it has NO STORY to it whatsoever. Nothing substantial. None, nada, zip, zilch.

    Whilst P&P might have been about a man and woman falling in love despite their pride, the writings of Jane Austen also teach one moral values, the culture at the time and the follies and vices present then, which are not so apparent now. And as mentioned by Umm Reem, even the strictly religious ones can’t have too much to object to. With Harry Potter, it’s a very complex story set in a world parallel to ours, and one could probably derive several analyses pertaining to it being a parallel to real-life global politics and possibly history too. HP also has some great use of English language and British sarcasm not to mention that the only TWO true kisses mentioned are undertaken by the protagonists and have a description of barely a sentence or two. It doesn’t mean I recommend it. It’s like comparing minor shirk with major shirk, HP being minor shirk and Twilight being major shirk. Just because minor shirk may not take the person out of the fold of Islam, it doesn’t mean one should do it at all. But I digress.

    The quote from the Muslim freshman summarises Twilight adequately. As does a review I read a while back. In its essence, the story is about a werewolf and a vampire fighting to be with a girl who is in love with both of them. Let’s move away from Islamic morals…is this book(s) going to teach any morals whatsoever??

    I think the answer is quite clear.

    Not only is it an immoral book, it’s complete, and utter RUBBISH! It lacks varying vocabulary (except for maybe the use of ‘irrevocably’ being possibly the only sophisticated word), little humour, no sense of imagination, doesn’t teach much (except for the stages of mitosis if one reads carefully enough) and is just fodder for empty minds. And somehow it’s become a bestselling, book-turned-movie extravanganza.
    What does this tell us about the time, society and emptiheaded self-centredness we’re living in?

    Umm Reem, jazakallahu khair for this article. It’s much needed. And no, you’re not being OTT. Those mothers who wish to let their children read such books do so at their own risk. It doesn’t just boil down to the effect that these books have on us now, but also how they will affect us in the Akhirah. I just hope many mothers are mindful of this ‘butterfly effect’.

  26. mohamed says:

    jazak for the article. It’s tough being an older brother to young girls that read these books (I have 2 that have read the book and my 9 year old sister wants to read it), and living away from home at college. What can I do to help if I’m not there?

    • Bushra says:

      Keep talking to them and stay updated about their lives on a regular basis and subtly bring in the topic of the book without patronising them. Unfortunately, as adults, we have a tendency to talk down at pre-teens and teens without realising it.

    • Umm Reem says:

      be friend them…take interest in their lives, and offer them advice without ever being pushy….you already have an advantage of being an older brother…younger sisters really love their older brother’s involvement in their lives! :)

    • Nazihah Malik says:

      i have two older brothers. When the eldest went away to college, I got closer to him. He was more than a best friend. Take advantage of that relationship. Call, txt, fb frequently, buy them gifts (girls love just about anything!), get them alternatives to books such as these, or get them involved in other hobbies as well.

      Most important thing–older siblings have the advantage that they can relate more so w/ younger ones compared to parents. use that.

      keep an open dialogue w/ them. no topic is too shameful to discuss.

  27. Abez says:

    I loved this article, thank you for writing it. JazakAllahuKheiran. I got turned off by most popular fiction years ago, when I realized that some of it was just porn on paper stitched together with a plot, and if it wasn’t permissible for us to watch this and glorify it, how was it ok for us to read about it, imagine it, and luxuriate it the feelings it aroused?

    It would be great if there were a list of + and – books for kids and young adults, based on how sexually explicit or morally misleading they were. Do you have any recommendations for what we should recommend they be reading instead? In addition to the classics?

    • Umm Reem says:

      yes…real quick: these are all series…great for kids

      A to Z mysteries
      Boxcar children
      Bailey school kids
      Encylopedia Brown
      Nancy Drew (but not the new series)
      Clues brothers
      magic treehouse

      i will post more inshaAllah

      • Hafsa says:

        Well, I used to love reading E.Nesbit’s classics. Oh and I’ve read a few of the Series of Unfortunate Events books and they’re pretty awesome too. =)

      • Abez says:

        It would be great if we could compile this list from these comments. I have a few suggestions that I remember fondly from my childhood, but it’s been a very long time since I’ve been that age or read those books! *ah, nostaglia!*

        Little House on the Prairie Series
        Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen- This book made a huge impression on me as a child, it addresses perseverance, strength of character, and self-reliance. Boy is the only survivor of a light plane crash in the wilderness with only a hatchet.
        My Side of the Mountain– Jean Craighead George
        The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S.Lewis- I know it had an underlying Christian theme, but I never realized that until I was told years later. What I remember from it is honor, honesty, bravery, and fighting for what is right. And reading about the Calormen (who were a poorly disguised stereotype for Turkish Muslims) in the 6th book was educational for me in that I was aware of how wrongly Muslims were perceived, and it was a talking point in our family.
        Bridge to Terabithia– Katherine Patterson
        Harry Potter– Magic isn’t real, which is a good talking point for parents beforehand. And the books are well written and clean.
        White Fang- Jack London
        Call of the Wild– Jack London
        The RedWall Series– Brian Jacques- Over 15 books of an amazing series- Rabbit Warriors, Badger Lords, Mouse Heroes battling the forces of evil, pirates, raiders, etc. Strong moral themes, well written, and very clean. 10+
        To Kill a Mockingbird– Harper Lee
        Roald Dahl– Any and all of his children’s books are wonderful. His short stories for adults are quite dark though, but most people don’t even know he wrote them.
        Louis L’Amour– Authentic western/frontier/cowboy stories- cleanly written, simple English, great stories, ethical protagonists, easy for teenagers to get in to and a classic with adults for the last sixty years or more.

        • Hena Zuberi says:

          on it Abez, was doing that for my daughter so can easily do a list for MM, have some suggestions from my youth group girls too from Facebook comments to this article – going to ask our lovely editorial team if we can have a permanent page or internal link. Please keep commenting and sharing your favorite books.

        • Ali says:

          Abez, I read most of those books growing up myself. I disagree with you on the Harry Potter Series though. It also discusses boyfriend/girlfriend themes, albeit a lot less graphically than Twilight.

        • RCHOUDH says:

          Wonderful list sister!

          To that I’d like to add The Adventures of Stuart Little; loved that book growing up.

          Has anyone read the Choose Your Own Adventure series? I really enjoyed those books growing up.

          For 6-7 year olds I’d recommend them first having them read Wizard of Oz and then watching the classic Judy Garland film. My daughter was thrilled to watch that after reading it. I’d recommend the same with Alice in Wonderland (but with regard to the watching it on film I recommend you watch the Disney animated version instead of the live action film starring Johnny Depp. If I think of anymore I’ll be sure to list them later Insha’Allah. And I agree with Sr. Hena Zuberi we should compile a permanent list for this website as permanent reference for parents.

        • ElvenInk says:

          I started a website for this exact purpose a few weeks ago! (themuslimlens.ca) So glad to hear I’m not alone in thinking we really need to share lists and reviews for the better literature and media out there! :) I’ve never read the Louis L’Amour ones, but I liked almost everything else on your list. Narnia is problematic though…as you mentioned the portrayals of the Calormen are quite racist.

    • Hena Zuberi says:

      Some suggestions for 9-12 years old
      Helwani, Najiyah Diana. Sophia’s Journal: Time Warp 1857.
      Hiaasen, Carl. Flush.
      Little House on the Prairie series
      A Series of Unfortunate events
      Island of the Blue Dolphins

      for younger kids-
      Magic Tree house series

      This was suggested by an online homeschooling mom- Ayat Jamilah

      Amazon’s review: “Winner of the 2004 Aesop Prize, Ayat Jamilah/Beautiful Signs: a Treasury of Islamic Wisdom for Children and Parents is the second book in Eastern Washington University Press’ This Little Light of Mine series. A young adult/adult crossover anthology, it draws from not only the core of Islamic spirituality and ethics, the Qur’an, and the traditions (hadiths), but also from the mystical verse, folk tales, and exemplary figures of the Islamic narrative. Unlike any other collection of Islamic stories, Beautiful Signs gathers traditional stories from the farthest reaches of the Muslim world, which stretches from Morocco in the west to Indonesia in the east, and from China in the north to Tanzania in the south. This unique anthology, with its rich and thorough explanatory notes, will be invaluable to anyone wishing to understand, or to teach, geography, world history, or world religions. It will also be treasured by Muslim families and by all parents committed to broadening the lives and values of their children and themselves.

      I am having an issue with the Percy Jackson series- the whole greek ‘gods’ idea is making me wary

      • Mari says:

        There is also lots of really great historical fiction, such as books by Linda Sue Park, like The Single Shard, When My Name was Keoko, etc…

        What we do is always go for the literature with literary awards. That’s your best guide to good quality English literature. There is a huge trough of classical literature with great lessons, lots of history, and great plots. This is a great alternative to the trashy novels or twaddle books of today.

  28. NotSuprised says:

    I can relate to the points you mentioned in the article.

    I used to read novels when I was younger with such scenes in them and another girl I knew did so too but the difference between us what that she would skip through those scenes and get straight into the stories, where else I would read ‘those scenes’ slowly and enjoy them actually (astaghfirulla). Now looking back at things, I understand why I was the one who would have crushes on all the boys compared to my friend. Why my feelings were always going wild. I thank Allah though for protecting me from falling into anything bad.

    This issue reminds me of the pornography issue with men these days. Though it may not be as worse, it is similar. Women are not visual creatures. Each time you read a novel, you keep wanting more and more, then start imagining these scene in your head after you finish reading the novel and so you enjoy the feelings that your body produces and also these novels create unrealistic expectations for young girls when they get married because you start to imagine a Mr Perfect that will do what these novel characters do.

    may Allah protect our children

    • Umm Reem says:

      JazakiAllah khair for sharing with us your experience, inshaAllah it will help many others understand the dangers of such literature.

      Women are not visual creatures. Each time you read a novel, you keep wanting more and more, then start imagining these scene in your head after you finish reading the novel and so you enjoy the feelings that your body produces and also these novels create unrealistic expectations for young girls when they get married because you start to imagine a Mr Perfect that will do what these novel characters do.

      truly a very essential point for the parents to understand

  29. Nazihah Malik says:

    You didn’t even take words out of my mouth, you took them out of my mind.

    For the last year or so, I’ve been struggling to find a way to address this issue. InshaAllah, I hope to address this issue in my community–to the youth as well as parents.

    Thank you, may Allah reward you for..

    not only addressing the superficial problem, but the more important, underlying issue–which is communication b/w parent and child and how imp. the role of a parent is in situations such as these.

    “Not Surprised” stated it straight up….

    Men are more visually stimulated–pornographic images appeal to them. Women are more stimulated by feelings, touch, etc. and what’s described in these books appeals to those feelings. You can call them pornographic thoughts.

    • Olivia says:

      not to play devil’s advocate (ok maybe) but isn’t it normal to a certain extent for teens to have pornographic thoughts? even before TV, internet, Twilight, sex has been boasted as the greatest pleasure known to mankind, and it’s forbidden to them until marriage. isn’t it rather normal, and perhaps even a little healthy, for them to wonder?

      • africana says:

        Salam Alaikum,

        But, isn’t it one thing to have these thoughts arise naturally or from stimuli over which we have no control (such as accidental exposure to arousing imagery) and quite another to actively seek it out?

        What do you advise that the teenager should do when experiencing these thoughts, should the teenager find them detestable or should they accept them?

        In Orthodox Judaism, the dwelling on lascivious thougts is strongly discouraged; does Islam teach the same? Or would the attempt to cancel out such thoughts lead to neurosis and possible sexual obsession?

      • Umm Reem says:

        Olivia: i agree and i also mentioned this part in my article that to not have the liking for other sex is nearly abnormal….but as africana mentioned it is more what is naturally produced from within us, our hormones etc. In all honesty, the society we live in these days, plays enough role of an exposure, we don’t need icing on the cake with all this soft-porn literature…and Allah knows best…

      • Haseeb J says:

        I can’t recall in any study or book that says this. It is quite impossible to conjure up imaginations that have not been even seen yet but what exists are feelings, feelings that initially lead to confusion if not channeled and controlled properly. That is where good parents come in, like Umm Reem

  30. Olivia says:

    Personally, I don’t have any kids this age, but will some day insha’Allah, so it’s always beneficial reading the experience and advice of other mothers who have already been there. =)

    Here’s my question about this dilemma: How do you distinguish between what is an outlet and what creates an issue that needs that outlet?

    Let me explain: On the one hand, the article mentions that books like Twilight create feelings that need an outlet, so the reader-teen may turn toward internet relationships or porn. On the other hand, some may argue that our teens already have the hormones and circumstances that require them to find an outlet. So some may say that teens are already somewhat horny, pardon my language, and are naturally curious about things like intimacy and sex so they need to find an outlet to satisfy their curiousity, so some may argue that a book like Twilight provides an outlet for an already existent “problem” (or perhaps natural state of being for a teen).

    This is not my opinion on the issue (frankly, I haven’t really visited the issue), but I know many parents feel this way about teen-related stuff. That you have to allow them some room for exposure or they’ll become rebellious/secretive. So on the one hand, some say reading the lit causes the problem whereas others may say that reading the lit satisfies and will prevent the problem. Your thoughts? :)

    • Olivia says:

      or another way to put it would be that some people read to replace what they don’t have in the their lives. like some of us housewives are fantasy nerds because let’s face it, we may be lacking adventure, so reading about it whets the literary appetite… ;)

      *cough* i really recommend the wheel of time, there is also a junior version. the MM CEO concurs *coughs*

    • Mari says:

      I know this comment will draw some gasps… but umm… shouldn’t they get married then? If age is an issue, then just the Nikaah?

      • africana says:

        I agree with you, Mari. I have no issue with early marriage. In the present age, it seems the only people marrying at age 16 or 17, in any great number, are the Roma.

    • I think the porn analogy fits well, and sifting through the stories and comments on that article will show a person it’s hardly an outlet – it’s a catalyst!

      The same outlet-argument has been seen with that phenomenon as well, and it does seem reasonable. But I think experience shows that the neurochemistry associated with this part of human nature is addictive like a drug (desire = k x fulfillment) rather than something that can just be filled like hunger (desire = k x 1/fulfillment).

      Short answer, the more they get the more they want.

    • Umm Reem says:

      I think the porn analogy fits well, and sifting through the stories and comments on that article will show a person it’s hardly an outlet – it’s a catalyst!

      couldn’t have said it better :)

      i dont’ think our teens, in this society of our times, need more exposure to sexuality…
      let’s keep in mind that girls/females have a strong power of imagination unlike men who are more visual…so would we offer boys more phonographic magazine/sites/movies in the name of “little exposure” or an “outlet”?
      similarly allowing our girls to read these books will only act like a catalyst, as br. sabour said!

      here is a comment from my facebook that a sister posted there who is very involved with the youth of her community:

      Masha’Allah excellent advise & article. SubhanAllah I remember having this convo with the yth girls at one of our sleepovers .We were discussing reading & how many of them actually read.It was very sad to see that of the 14 girls there ages 12 & up only about 3 of them really read.The others read but books that were ‘cool’ to their school friends, like twilight etc.
      I have always been upfront with my own kids on many things especially the so called ‘taboo’ subjects & still till today review their books even though I only have my sons left but even some of the ‘boys’ book have some nasty stuff in them especially comic type books.Not the story line as much as the illustration of the so called heroines & their various states of nakedness.
      It is a tough world out there & not that many choices left in reading material that have no sexual text in them & that is why now more then ever we need more Muslim authors like sr. Naima Roberts & others to write appropriate fiction novels for our muslim yth & it would really be nice if some brothers could do teh same for the boys [teen].
      I read all the comments & some of them state that we’re trying to raise our kids in a bubble by contrlling them & that if we teach them the facts of what is correct & what is not, they won’t be affected. That is a whole lot of hogwash! sorry to say.I was one of those yth who loved reading & read novels that my high schl cousins were reading.At the yng age of 13 I was reading teen love stories & by the time ai was 16 I was reading Mills & boone & I knew what was right & wrong as a muslim girl. Unfortunately my parents were not observant or really worried what I read as long as I was reading.No one checked what books I bought/ exchanged or borrowed as long as I was at home & not doing ‘bad’ things & with ‘bad’ company but believe me the books DO lead you down a road that is unIslamic. One might not experiment with the opposite sex but shaytaan does lead you close too if not all the way to masturbation. In my time most teen girls had no idea what masturbation meant believe me & that it was wrong for muslim girls as well.In madrasa only the boys were informed about what this is & so forth..
      It’s high time Muslim parents & I don’t care where you’re from , whether in the west or east , open their eyes & get their head out of the sand.There is alot of work that needs to be done for our yng kids & we need to work together for it to be more effective. Let’s not say there are no alternatives, there are & where there is very limited alternatives lets work to make more for them!

      she points out a valid concern, how reading such material will aid the girls to be involved more in masturbation…and aoodhobillah, if continues that will just be a stepping stone to bigger evils.

      As br. sabour pointed out, this is how addiction starts…vicious…how shyataan plays with innocent minds.

  31. Umm Rufayda says:

    Assalamu alaykum

    Jazakilla kairan Umm Reem for your insightful article. My daughter is a voracious reader but she’s 9 years and has not yet been exposed to the series you mentioned. When she was younger I filtered all her reading material, blotted out inappropriate material,or discussed unsavoury issues from the books. Now I cannot keep up with her reading and I do worry that she maybe exposed to things I do not wish her to. So I think the sister’s suggestion about us compiling a safe list is fantastic- (maybe a summary/review of the book as well. Some books are mostly good but with a little bit of bad so we can point out these things in the review so parents can be aware and make it a discussion point while reading the book as its very hard to find literature which is 100 percent Islamically safe. If we all set out to do this we can have an easier time choosing books for our kids and saving us the stress of trying to filter everything.InshaAllah I’ll visit the sister’s website and email her some series which I find safe, innocent and interesting.

  32. muslimah says:

    twilight is crap…i think teens will fall into the fitnah, not me..im mature enough not to get carried away over crappy vampire stories.

    harry potter is better!

  33. Sara says:

    Salam,

    I’m 18 and love to read as well. I read Umm Zakiyyah’s series and loved it. Do you have any recommendations for books to read? Do you think Pride and Prejudice is a good choice?

  34. Perspective says:

    Interesting article…I know that parents try incredibly hard to limit any sort of contact that might lead their away from the right path, and while I understand that this is well intentioned, I think that sometimes it actually backfires and becomes counter-productive. I’ve never read the Twilight series (I’ve seen the movies but wasn’t impressed), and I doubt there is anything of substance within the books. That said, I still feel that pre-teen/teen girls should be allowed to read the series if they so desire. I honestly think literature like Twilight, although not great, provides the safest outlet for a lot of the feelings that pre-teen/teen girls develop as a result of hormones and puberty; this is natural and its better that they are able to use literature as an outlet (rather harmless) than go out and experiment with boys in the real world. Reading Twilight doesn’t put thoughts of boys and intimacy in a girls head, I guarantee you those thoughts are developing regardless, but it does provide an imaginative and harmless outlet for those thoughts given that parents are INVOLVED with discussing the book with their daughters afterward. And I honestly think its a little far fetched to attribute internet relationships (possibly with a pedophile) to the Twilight series…issues like that stem from a lot more than teen literature.

    Instead of censoring teen novels, I think parents should try to develop a relationship with there children so that these issues can be openly discussed. Read through Twilight beforehand, and then after your daughter has read it go over why the story might sound so appealing, but why as Muslims, we don’t do things like that in our real lives. I find this approach to be far more effective with kids. As a small example, I have a niece whose mother is more “old school” in terms of parenting, and thus the issues of boys and feelings are not openly discussed between the two of them. Being in my twenties, my niece instead comes to me to tell about who she thinks is cute and what she likes in a boy, and while I listen to her and tell her these feelings are totally normal, I explain to her that she is NOT to act upon any of these feelings. The most surprising part about this is that she completely agrees, and even tells me how every relationship at her junior high lasts two weeks and end in girls being devastated…she understands the consequences of this behavior and the stupidity of it, she just wants someone to talk about this stuff without feeling like she’s done something wrong! So if your really worried about your child going off the right path, just talk to them, create an open dialogue where they can tell you about boys and their feelings towards them, and where you can explain that this is normal but where the limits are. I really feel that this will be a lot more effective then censoring literature that they can likely borrow from a friend without your knowledge anyway.

    Regardless, good article and food for thought. Parents definitely have their work cut for them in todays culture, and I really commend mothers for trying to deal with these issues as best as possible.

    • Umm Reem says:

      jazakiAllah khair for ur insight and may Allah reward you for being there for your niece.

      I don’t think dealing with one child can give a full picture of what is going on in the society, with other families, with other girls etc.
      Besides, if u read my article, i did mention that part of the solution is to be involved in ur child’s life and to be there for them as a friend. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that by befriending them we can allow them soft-porn literature…
      as i mentioned before, this is similar to letting our boys read/watch movies with pornography in it!

      I guarantee you those thoughts are developing regardless, but it does provide an imaginative and harmless outlet for those thoughts given that parents are INVOLVED with discussing the book with their daughters afterward.

      yes and that’s why we don’t need to add salt on already wounded teens!!

      brother/sister, as i mentioned before, we are dealing with parents who shy away from even explaining different body parts to their children, do u think they will discuss the content of Twilight with their children??!!!

      And I honestly think its a little far fetched to attribute internet relationships (possibly with a pedophile) to the Twilight series…issues like that stem from a lot more than teen literature.

      perhaps, u need to get more involved with youth in your community and you will then understand! :)

  35. Olivia says:

    That said, I still feel that pre-teen/teen girls should be allowed to read the series if they so desire. I honestly think literature like Twilight, although not great, provides the safest outlet for a lot of the feelings that pre-teen/teen girls develop as a result of hormones and puberty; this is natural and its better that they are able to use literature as an outlet (rather harmless) than go out and experiment with boys in the real world. Reading Twilight doesn’t put thoughts of boys and intimacy in a girls head, I guarantee you those thoughts are developing regardless

    This is what I was wondering as well. (?) Is a novel such as this an oulet, something that creates the need for an outlet, or does it just depend on the person reading it?

    • ummZainab says:

      Perspective & sr. Olivia
      As someone who read such garbage & was raised by parents, the like of which ummReem is talking about, I can tell you from personal experience we don’t need to provide our yth with outlets such as this for their hormones & that they do put thoughts of intimacy in yng girls minds. This type of literature is harmful but while may not make them experiment with boys, will entice them to experiment none the less on themselves or with their girlfriends.Yes some of these thoughts are developing but when they read these type of novels instead of them imagining a kiss as a kiss[sorry for being discriptive here] with just 2 sets of lips locking, it provides greater visual imagery that they would other wise not know more details of.
      By reading this type of material, even for the most innocent & immature minds in girls, that initially have no knowledge, ideas or feeling that reading these types of explicit material arouse in young hormonal girls, they will lead to some type of experimentation.Why? because once a young girl starts feeling aroused, she will need to somehow have these feelings come full circle.Yes it depends also on how sexually aware[mentally] a girl is & what she has seen, heard or been told.
      An example; a young girl from a religious practising family with little sexual awareness will end up having a wet dream as this will be her ‘natural’ outlet for such built up thoughts/ feelings/ tension that arise from reading such explicit material.This will also make her think that ‘this’ is the way one should feel when they’re kissed for the first time & so will give her an unrealistic expectation for when she marries & it’s a totally different thing.This may lead to other bigger problems for her in her marriage & sexual relations with her husband as she will always remember what she read when she was ynger & she will expect that this is HOW she should be feeling.This will unfortunately be her guidline for sexual fulfillment & we know what happens to so many women that don’t get that from their marriages/ spouses.
      A girl from conservative but not so religious family [ who has never been informed of the wrongs of masturbation in islam or who was allowed to attend the public schl sex ed. program with parents skirting their responsibilities in dealing with this themselves] & where she has been told/ taught that masturbation is a ‘normal’ way of releasing sexual tention & there’s nothing wrong with it, will do so!
      In her case, she will already ‘know’ how to fulfill herself & what the feelings are when reaching climax & will expect her spouse in the future to bring her to the same level.This will also cause her bigger issues in her marriage as should her spouse not be able to help her reach the same level, she won’t care too much as she will do it herself.This is beside her not knowing how all this effects her iman & religious obligations.
      What is Islamically normal is for these yng girls to understand that feeling an interest in the opposite sex & having a crush as well is ‘not bad’ or wrong BUT there has to be someone that informs them that as long as they make sure to keep their gaze lowered, don’t expose their feeling to the boy/s or even friends [as I think we [ women] can all agree to this is that even crushes on a boy changes from one guy to another from a week to the next or a month to the next or having crushes on more then 1 guy at a time] & also why reading literature that has discriptive sexual content is not good for them all around & explain to them how to Islamically control that themselves so these feeling don’t build up. We can get them into sports [ that are Islamically suitable & in an Islamic enviroment ] for them to get rid of that tension, also applying ALL the Islamic guidleines & last but not least marry if they feel it’s too much. To also inform them that should they have a wet dream , it’s okay & nothing to be ashamed off as this IS normal & islamically happens to females as well.
      our yth already face so many challenges in keeping them away from the fitnah of sex outside what is Islamically acceptable, let’s not minimise the issue of reading such material & what it does. So censorship is not all that bad. I have had too much experience in seeing what this does to even ‘good’ Muslim kids with much Islamic potential, to want anymore to go through this.
      Our boys are affected by ‘soft-porn’ on a daily basis whether in the east, west or north,south in the visual media.Our girls are affected by all the novels that are made to seem/ look innocent but aren’t & this is not only teens but also children from ages 5 & up[ think Barbie & ken, disney princesses etc] what is the underlying message?It’s all about finding love as in the end that is all we all want as humans. To be loved by someone of the opposite sex!
      We do have some beautiful Islamic ‘love’ stories that teach the yth & adults of what is correct love & how to go about it. Let’s get those stories read to our children & we will see how much better it’ll be for them. May Allah help guide us & help us guide our yth today in dealing with these matters that are invading our lives as Muslims no matter where we live.

      • africana says:

        Assalamu Alaikum,

        Interesting perspective, Umm Zainab. I agree that sexual frustration in marriage may, in part, be attributable to earlier self-experimentation. However, another source of such dissatisfaction could be simply the widely available knowledge that something similar to what the male experiences is possible.

        Furtheemore, an inabilty to satisfy a wife’s sexual desire is considered grounds for divorce in sharia (even if the number of women who would actually sue for divorce on those grounds is minimal to non-existant).

        • Algebera says:

          Africana and others:
          I didn’t get to read all the comments, I basically skimmed through most of them, until i got to this one.
          Many women are afraid to actually bring up sexual dissatisfaction as an only or primary grounds for divorce b/c society as a whole or muslim women would look down on them and their chances of getting married would become slim to say the very least.
          Speaking of literature harnessing desires in women when they are young is not the only factor it is a natural desire. During the the Prophets’s(PBUH) time women would come and in one instance a woman did ask for a divorce on the very grounds of her dissatisfaction with her husband on the ground of sexaul dissatisfaction, and at that time they did n’t have any literature or pictures that contributed to her bringing about her dissatisfaction. point being i don’t think it is literature or pics that make a woman realize she is dissatisfied or contribute to her high expectations of being satisfied or not satisfied. She knows if she is and sometimes she may not be able to reitierate it or vocalize it and its not literature that is making her think that way.
          Maybe women should read the hadiths, especially Muslim and Bukhari and one can find many hadiths in which women would talk about sexaul things and those weren’t brought about literature or pics at that time.
          Lets STOP diminishing the need or belittleing the need to be satisfied to the excuse that literature and procacative pictures are making them dissatisfied somehow and they really wouldn’t want it if they didn’t look at pictures or media like that.
          salam

      • Umm Safiyyah says:

        mashallah, very well said UmmZainab

    • Umm Reem says:

      This is what I was wondering as well. (?) Is a novel such as this an oulet, something that creates the need for an outlet, or does it just depend on the person reading it?

      wAllahu ‘alam but it seems like it is something that ADDS to the need for an outlet…because that need will automatically exist as the girls reach a certain age and their hormones kick in…
      then we can either add to it (which, trust me, is not hard to do in our times) or we can help them control it…

  36. Arif says:

    This was a very powerful piece – JazaakumAllahu Alfa Khayran for this. One of the reasons that I set up Muslim Youth Musings back in the day was because I saw that there was no outlet for Muslim youth literature nor a a decent and platform to express their thoughts.

    I hope that writers realize that there is an untapped market filled with Muslim youth who just simply want to pick up mystery novels/thrillers/adventure/comedy novels that are written by Muslims and for Muslims. Kudos to writers like Sr. Na’ima Roberts who has began writing for Muslim teens, but we need so much more – both for men and women. Imagine if we classics to look back to, novels such as “Little Muslimahs”, “Dawud Muskfield”, etc. May Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) make this into reality. Ameen…

  37. africana says:

    Irresepctive of any arguments in this book’s favour, isn’t reading passages, describing sexual scenes, somewhat analagous to what’s contained in the hadith which warns against discussing the details of one’s sex life with others?

  38. AnonyMouse says:

    I’ve been a voracious reader since the time I could start reading… back in the days when I had no friends, I’d sit curled up in my room for hours with piles and piles and piles of books… and then I started shunning human company for books instead :P

    I think I’ve read the gamut of novels – from mystery to fantasy, fairy tales to comic books, classics to newfangled silliness :)
    By and large, my taste has always leaned to the fairy tales and gothic fantasy than romance novels (I flipped through a couple but the writing quality was nauseatingly childlike and there was no plot beyond the point that the guy and girl get in bed).

    The truth is that there are a LOT of really good books available for kids of all ages, even/ especially the ‘dangerous’ preteen/ teen phases.
    As both a booklover and a patriotic Canadian, I’d recommend the Anne of Green Gables series (yes, there really is an entire series!) for preteens and teens alike. It’s funny, touching, and MORAL! Any time a character feels some kind of romantic inclination, they get married to their crushes :)

    There’s also the Unicorns of Balinor (for preteens); there’s the Once and Future King by T.H. White for all ages; the Last Unicorn; the Yearning; A Girl Named Disaster; The Ear, The Eye, and The Arm (this one is great for both girls and boys, I loved it); the Chronicles of Narnia (forget the movies, the books ROCK!); the Dark is Rising… there is sooooooooo much available in the ‘morally acceptable’ book category… unfortunately the new rush of lame teen ‘literature’, now outfitted with interesting book covers and schoolgirl hype, overshadows it all.

    As for whether this ‘soft porn for teens’ encourages sexual feelings or simply provides a healthy outlet, by and large it’s the former. AlHamdulillaah I had a pretty insulated childhood away from males anywhere near my age (with the exception of my brothers) so I never really got into the major crushing over a guy phase… sure, I daydreamed and all, but that’s normal. However, I completely recognize that IF I’d been in public school, IF I’d come across guys on a regular basis… the situation would have been very, very dfferent. It is wayyyyy too easy for a girl to find herself ‘falling’ for a guy at school, whether he’s a classmate or someone in the class next door. Even just saying ‘hi’ every day can lead to not just doodling hearts on a notebook (which is silly but innocent), but having lunch together, going to the corner store together, and then going to the mall (and other, less savoury places) together.
    Teenage girls tend to be pretty stupid (and I say this as someone who is still a teenage girl :P), and fluffy romantic books and scenes just fuel that silliness and make you wish you could engage in something similar… and given an opportune circumstance, will encourage you to do something similar. You have no idea how many books talk about how the girl has to ‘be brave and confront him’ and ‘tell him how she feels’ so that he can ‘realize how much he actaully does like her.’ Fuel for the fire, anyone?

    The ideal answer to a teenage girl’s twitterpatedness is indeed marriage… but only if she’s correctly perpared ahead of time to know that marriage isn’t just a short-term boyfriend/ girlfriend relationship, but something serious and long-term as well. If you think your daughter is mature enough to handle it, then fix her up with a good, Deeni guy and let her be as twitterpated as she wants (and then she can read Twilight if she wants too, as long as she doesn’t expect her husband to turn into Edward Cullen! ;) ).

    • Hafsa says:

      Yessss!!! Anne of green gables! And Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom and An Old Fashioned Girl and all those Agatha Christies and Sherlock Holmes and David Copperfield and the Lord of the Rings and what not! I like reading, hehe! =)

      • Olivia says:

        also a huge anne fan =) siraaj is going to take me to the AOGG house one day…right, siraaj, mr. coo?

        • chemaatah says:

          it’s a very fun place to visit! there’s a museum too, in ontario. i’ve visited some of the little house on the prairie sites too. i was very lucky to have a kind, and understanding dad who understood how important it was to a little girl to be able to see the places from her favorite books for some of our family vacations!

          i never was able to talk him into letting us visit red square, and all the other russian landmarks i wanted to see during my russian lit. phases. maybe someday i’ll be able to talk my husband into visiting them with me…

      • Algebera says:

        Anne of green gables! and all those Agatha Christies and Sherlock Holmes I dont’ think I have missed any agatha Christie, I watch Masterpiece Theatre when it is “PEROT”

    • Umm Reem says:

      couldn’t agree more with what you said…

      Teenage girls tend to be pretty stupid (and I say this as someone who is still a teenage girl ), and fluffy romantic books and scenes just fuel that silliness

      i wish parents could understand this point….

  39. muslimah says:

    I think its important that parents establish a connection with their kids and teach them right from the wrong.
    Trust me, i grew up reading more risque books..like sweet valley university but i never acted out things in real life. My parents instilled some strong morals and vaues in me and i find myself unable to go against them.

    If twilight is soft porn, what are shidney sheldon’s books? I have read a couple of his books and omg, i felt sick to the stomach..too explicit. I pormised myself i will never read a sidney sheldon book again..that was like 7 yrs back and im going strong on that promise!

    Another thing i would like to point out is, we are perfectly capable of distinguishing right from the wrong..it all comes to down to the person. I didnt want to go here, but i think this is a great example. Im sure everyone knows who lisa kudrow is. She played a very raunchy character in *friends* and guess what? She stayed a virgin till her wedding night. She said she was raised to believe her body is sacred and to bestow it upon someone who is worthy of it. Imagine, a hollywood celeb say that! So my point is, dont waste too much time worrying abt your kids IF you have done a good job in the parenting department.

    And i gotta agree with Bushra. Harry potter has excellent vocabulary and usage of english language. On a sidenote, it’s just not 2 kisses. More than that i can recall, but they are not explicit in the least..

  40. africana says:

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    I mentioned this in a previous comment and would appreciate some feedback, in sha Allah:

    What do you advise that the teenager should do when experiencing sexual these thoughts, should the teenager find them detestable or should they accept them?

    In Orthodox Judaism, the dwelling on lascivious thougts is strongly discouraged; does Islam teach the same? Or would the attempt to cancel out such thoughts lead to neurosis and possible sexual obsession?

    • mohammed says:

      salam alaikum

      try to teach your children that feeling this way is natural and expected in anyone who has hormones. however despite acceptance of hormonal changes in a youngster’s mind they should try to suppress the urge to go looking for an outlet for these until they are in a marriage.many reasons can be given to them and by islam there is no sin in thinking a certain way nor is it a sin for having these thoughts,simply because the child may not know where the influence of these thoughts is coming from. these days even cartoons for toddlers have encrypted soft pornographic images and themes which sit in a child’s subconcious and take action later on when the child is old enough to decide what to do with those indoctrinated ideas.in Islam Allah is oft-forgiving and All Merciful,he does not punish for thoughts due to this reason.its ok if a thought shows up in someone’s mind.just not ok to put it in action.

    • Umm Reem says:

      good answer:
      http://islam-qa.com/en/ref/2252/sexual

      and as for the sexual thoughts/fantacies, here is what i found…the topic of the question was different, but i think the answer is related:

      “Sexual fantasies are among the thoughts that cross a person’s mind because it is something that is stored in the subconscious which is affected by the environment in which he lives and the scenes that he sees. These are thoughts that occur to most people, especially the youth, but they vary from one person to another with regard to their type, strength and effect.
      Islamic sharee’ah is the sharee’ah of the fitrah (natural state of man) and it is in harmony with human nature, and it takes into account the psychological fluctuation that Allaah has made a part of the human make-up. So it does not go beyond human limitations or impose impossible burdens.

      Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

      “Allaah burdens not a person beyond his scope” [al-Baqarah 2:286]

      It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah has forgiven my ummah for whatever crosses their mind so long as they do not speak of it or act upon it.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (2528) and Muslim (127).

      Al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said commenting on this hadeeth:

      Whatever crosses a person’s mind, so long as he does not dwell on it or continue to think of it, he is forgiven for it, according to scholarly consensus, because it does not happen voluntarily and he has no way of avoiding it. Al-Adhkaar (p. 345).

      Passing fancies come under the heading of that which crosses a person’s mind, which is forgiven according to the hadeeth quoted above. So if a person imagines haraam things that came to his mind unbidden, there is no blame or sin on him, rather he has to ward them off as much as he can.

      http://islam-qa.com/en/ref/84066/sexual

  41. mohammed says:

    it goes a lot deeper than you people think.little crushes are NOT ok-why? read the quran and it’s translation and you’ll know. read up about shaitan and his plans and how his greatest trick was to have man believe he did not exist. nothing is without purpose in this world.everything has a reason and history behind it.before any of you start to comment,sit and think about it for a minute. a muslim does not want to anger Allah in any way shape or form correct? so why is it mandatory to follow some of his orders and ok to neglect others? if we could follow them all,this world would be so wonderful to live in. ask yourselves this question-what is the first pillar of islam? start your research about why this whole subject goes deeper than a page against twilight.pride and prejudice was not simple and sweet,neither were any of the books of the past-all books,authors starting after the first murder at the time of Adam (a.s) had an agenda,an agenda that predates our simple minded assumptions about the current day books and their goals. many of you will simply roll your eyes at the next sentence and many will try to outsmart my comment by showing off their new aged ideas that are apparently modern and updated compared to this simple truth i will unfold right now- to steer mankind off the right path.if anyone has any legitimate questions to ask about this matter,please do so,those looking to troll ,try to outsmart or hating please do not reply to this.those who know what i’m talking about and those who are erudites in history -please do reply and remark.i will continue to comment after reading replies.

    • africana says:

      Jazak Allahu khair for your responses, brother.

      A believer’s heart cannot be torn in two separate directions. Crushes certainly take one away from the rememberance of Allah.

  42. africana says:

    I think most of us are agreed on the fact that the reading of sexually charged literature increases the likelihood of masturbation and/or illicit realtionships, so should be avoided.

    Does anyone have any advice on how youngsters can cope with/manage the normal feelings that arise naturally within them?

    • Umm Reem says:

      1. try to seek protection form shaytaan by making du’a
      2. making morning and afternoon adhkaar
      3. staying away from the means that provoke/instigate or add to these thoughts
      4. keeping good company
      5. try NOT to spend time alone, be with the family, good friends etc.
      6. get more invovled in community activities
      7. work out
      8. start reciting Qur’an when these thoughts are provoked

      please feel free to add to these points…

  43. NY says:

    Sabhannallah i never knew twightlight was all about that and no im not old, im in my twenties. I see so many Muslims reading it. Now i know to advice people about it when i come across it and to look out for my future children even more! Great Techniques

  44. ReemAkon says:

    JazakAllahkhaira Ummreem for the well written article on a very relevant topic.
    Another basic of effective parenting is finding ways to expose our kids to the real world. We and our children see so little of true trials and suffering like fear, poverty, sickness, war etc. Yet we should be exposed to the trials of others on a firsthand, consistent basis in order to develop compassion for our fellow human beings and to keep ourselves grounded in reality.

    Consider a child whose regular routine includes visiting the sick, spending time with the elderly and the poor – a child who from a very early age understands that the highest faculty of human beings is in doing good deeds – worshipping Allah and serving His creation.

    Such a child, by the will of Allah, would be compassionate, deep and goal oriented. If this child was then exposed to temptations like reading trashy romance novels — even if they were to succumb and read such books the effects would be temporary because they would quickly recognize their irrelevance to reality.

    “It easy to say “No” to temptation, with a genuine smile on your face, if you have a bigger “Yes” burning inside.” That quote is a paraphrase from something I recently read in a Stephen Covey book. Think about it…I think it’s pretty deep =)

  45. Gul Jan says:

    Asa,

    I started reading Twilight and i HATED IT. and my sister read it and fell in loveee with it.
    I thought it was soo boring and i’d much prefer pride and prejudice because im so sensitive:) heheeh.

    So i reccomend all you muslim sistaaaaas NOT to reaad Twilight cause its crap. vampires, werewolves? Are you serious? i meaaaan, how BOGUS! i meaaaan come on!!!!!

    Yours sincereelyy,

    Gul Jan.

  46. Farooq says:

    Try reading the “Eight Scroll” its amazing
    http://www.eighthscroll.com/

  47. anon says:

    I have read the Twilight series, and there are a few romantic scenes. Compared with television programs, it is comparatively chaste; I realize that may not be saying much, but Edward and Bella refrain from expressing their love because they fear for the fate of their souls if they give in. That is a surprising thing for popular Western novels.

    I believe that Twilight is an extended allegory of a young girl seeking (1) maturity and (2) to become more heavenly, like the Cullen family. I think that is the series’ primary appeal, and I, for one, found reading it an enlightening experience.

  48. Sad Mom says:

    Assalamu ‘Alaykum,

    For me, denying my teenage girl permission to read Twighlight, which nearly all of her teenage friends were reading at her Islamic school, with our without the knowledge of their parents, tipped the scale to full-scale rebellion on her part.

    It is not realistic to deny access to these books, if our teens get them anyway and hide them from us.

    Believe me, I loath these books, but sometimes too much control backfires.

    Wa Allahu ta’ala alam.

    • Umm Reem says:

      wa alaikum assalam,

      dear sister, don’t let it be a “control”…let it be “mutual understanding”…
      communicate, be gentle, be reasonable, substitute with something BIG, appreciate, encourage…

      It is not realistic to deny access to these books, if our teens get them anyway and hide them from us.

      as i mentioned in my article, denying them these books should not be in a way that they become rebellious or do it behind our backs…

      and it IS realistic…inshaAllah!
      make du’a, your dua IS accepted for ur child inshaAllah.
      don’t let a few slips/rebellious reactions be the end of your efforts.

      Keep trying sister, you know your child better than any other human being on this face of earth and YOU are the most sincere to your child…
      build a relationship with them. You should know what approach will be more effective for your child…try those…and know that, as a parent, you will make mistakes too.

      Let me tell you a secret:
      sometimes, when they disobey/rebel, just letting your disappointment reflect through your facial expression (making sure that the child has noticed it) without getting upset at them is FAR more effective than punishments/other consequences…

      • Sad Mom says:

        With all due respect, Umm Reem, I have a masters in counseling and have tried ALL OF THE ABOVE. This advice is a bit pedantic and a “one size fits all prescription.” It seems to be written from the vantage point of someone who has a strong Muslim family support network to balance the forces of the dunya; by someone who has relatively easy and compliant child(ren) or has not seen her children go through the difficult teen years.

        I don’t mean to be rude, but I have tried all of the things you have mentioned and more including putting my children through Muslim school for four years as a single mom while drivinga 1996 vehicle, praying at Arafah on Hajj and asking subsequent Hajjis to do the same; and nothing seems to working, subhan Allah. Please make Duaa’ for my daughter.

        I would like to share something, though. The Muslim community has to certain extent failed my family, subhan Allah. Her Muslim dad abandoned her at the age of three. Her Salafi step dad from one of the most pious families, ma sha Allah, divorced me after 25 months and is now on wife number six. She used to sit on his lap and play with his beard and say, “Baba, read tell me another story about the Sahaba.” And then, she was bullied for too years straight in Islamic school.

        Hindsight is 20/20 and, looking back, I can see that I made two huge mistakes: As a revert with no Muslim family, I put too much pressure on my daughter to follow Sunnah, while at the same time not having the Muslim family support network to sustain it. I cannot tell you how many Eids we spent alone.

        May Allah forgive me my shortcomings, make this extrutiating trial easy and grant me sabr. Ameen.

        • Umm Reem says:

          sometimes it doesn’t require a master in counselling to relate to one’s child…neither is my advice ‘one size fits all’.
          Not only I have a teenager myself but I’d been actively involved with many teenagers in different communities, including Islamic schools around me and by Allah’s Mercy, and only by His Mercy alone, what i advice is a result of all these years’ experience.

          It may work for some, it may not work for others, wAllahu ta’ala alam…

          Having said this, I cannot agree with you more on the fact that it is not a single mother’s job to raise her children esp. when the father is alive. And i cannot agree with you on how i wish that our islamic communities come forward in raising good muslims together…

          As for having a non Muslim family, i understand it is challenging. But grass always looks greener on the other side…we all are facing our fare share of challenges…sometimes, having a non-practising Muslim family or practising their own “version” of Islam is worse…

          As for our hard core salafi brothers practicing “marry-go-around-marriage-marathon”….seriously it is a shame. And i can only imagine how it must affects the raising of the children. However Dear Sister, remember Imam Ahamd’s mother raised him single-handedly…Imam Bukhair’s mother was a widowed. Shaikh Bin Baz didn’t have a father.

          May Allah make your matters easy for you. May Allah help you with your difficulties. May Allah help you with raise salih children, may Allah make your children form among the saliheen, sadiqeen, sabireen, ‘abideen.

          • Sad Mom says:

            Jazaki Allahu khairan, Umm Reem. Ameen. Thumma Ameen. Thumma Ameen.

            Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala guides whom He wills. Please keep her in your Duaa’.

        • muslimah says:

          my heart goes out to you sad mom even though i dont have children.. May Allah make this life and the next easy for u.. and bring and keep your daughter on the right path.. ameen!

  49. Hebah Ahmed says:

    Barak Allahu Feekee ya Ukhti!!!!!!!! I wish I had this kind of advice when I was a young girl. Maybe I could have avoided many pitfalls myself. I agree 200% with your perspective and your advice!

    Honestly, I don’t even think married women should read this stuff…as you said it creates an impossible standard of romance that husbands simply will never meet. Usually these novels are works of fiction because they are creations of an extreme form of what a woman craves, not what is actually attainable. This not only creates disappointment and feeling let down in a marriage, but can also effect ones ability to have a healthy, satisfying sexual realationship. I know many women who were exposed to sexually explicit matieral (in writing and visually) and they cannot enjoy their spouse because they have preconceived notions of how things should be. Its almost like having had prior relationships that frame a person’s sexuality and in comparison, a husband cannot fit the bill.

    My daughter is still young and even when she rebels, after talking to her about Allah and voicing my disappointment and concern with a bad choice, she eventually does what I guide her to. I know and want my daughter to develop her own independent will and already tell her that she should not expect to always make the same choices as I simply because “mommy did”, rather she should be more concerned with making sure her choices are within the bounds of Allah’s pleasure. She does not understand this now (she always wants to copy mommy) but I know the time will come when she will make choices I would not. And this is the time I fear the most. At the same time I know that the mistakes and bads decisions I made in the past are what have given me true conviction in the Islamic way of life. SO i constantly wonder how my children will learn to be compassionate and non-judgemental yet full of conviction and taqwa without failing themselves! But then I constantly make duaa that Allah protects them from harm, fitnah, and sins. Aye, what a dilemna! But I am sure Allah will take care of this without my worry though, since all must be tested.

    May Allah give me and all parents the patience and wisdom to teach our children and give them boundaries and direction while also accepting our children’s mistakes with the hope and prayers that it is what will bring them back stronger to the path. Ameen.

  50. Chasing Purity says:

    I wish someone would have told me about Twilight when I read it. It was in seventh grade, and I remember wondering what it would be like to have my own “Edward”. Now that i realize my stupidity, it’s so sad to realize that young girl. PRE-teens, view him as a sex symbol. And how yes, most teen books now are soft-porn.
    Your daughter is Masha’Allah very lucky to have a mother with your values. I strongly admire them. If more parents nowadays got more involved, the right way, in their children’s lives, they could greatly reduce the filth us teens are being bombarded with. It’s your kind of advice we need.

    • Umm Reem says:

      Chasing Purity,

      JazakAllah khair for your kind words.
      You know, you can be a mentor to many young girls in your community and can teach them a lot of valuable lessons. Girls of your age always have a stronger impact on preteens. Maybe you can start a weekly group discussion in your masjid? :)

      • Chasing Purity says:

        We have a local group, but I’m afraid that it doesn’t attract much attention. In all honesty, I myself am not interested. But I was thinking of actually reviving it and making it more teen-friendly. Any suggestions on how to achieve this?

  51. RCHOUDH says:

    Assalamu alaikum,

    Jazakillah ul Khair sister for this insightful article. What I find strange about Twilight is that the author claims to be a practicing Christian who wanted to write a romance that didn’t involve premarital sex. So she seems to have had good intentions but the irony is that instead downplaying sex her books have overemphasized upon it in other ways (the passage you quoted is but one of many describing intimate relations; it doesn’t matter that the description isn’t of actual penetration because it’s still all meant to be arousing!)

    I’m surprised and disappointed to hear that some Muslim parents actually insist upon allowing their daughters to read such trash. This reminds me of the whole public/private school vs. Islamic/homeschool debate. Is it better to shield and protect one’s children from wider society by keeping them away from secular educational institutions (and with books/media by preventing their exposure to materials with objectionable materials)? Or should children be exposed to such elements in order for them to not live in a “bubble” that pops when they venture out into the world, giving them a rude awakening?

    From my understanding we have to learn to balance these things. We shouldn’t try to have them live in a bubble but at the same time we shouldn’t expose them to everything that’s out and hope for the best from them.
    Re: Twilight I agree with you it is wholly unnecessary to expose them to this particular material. I’ve been reading other YA novels recently and I find that there are many out there involving little to no romance that deal with more pressing real life issues; they also contain interesting storylines and characters. There are even some novels now with Muslim characters! We should always try to find a middle way in these matters.

  52. Umm Ibraheem says:

    Masha’Allah Umm Reem, a very good article. May Allah (swt) guide us and help us to guide our children to the right path.

    As you discourage your child from reading these current ‘hot’ books, there should some halal options that you should present them with. Unfortunately, halal fiction is so very much limited. We need more creative writers out there with great books that are better and more enjoyable for our young ummah.

  53. Umm Reem says:

    Interesting :)
    ——–
    “How do you expect kids to listen to their parents?…

    Tarzan lives half naked,
    Cinderella comes back home at midnight,
    Pinocchio lies all the time,
    Aladdin is the king of thieves,
    Batman drives at 320 KM/h,
    Sleeping beauty is lazy,
    and Snow white lives with 7 guys.

    We shouldn’t be surprised when kids misbehave! They get it from their story books..”

    Shared By: Taimiyyah Zubair
    Al Huda Institute, Canada

  54. Cailin says:

    I appreciated your post. I am teaching at an American university about globalization and Twilight so it has been wonderful to read what people around the world think of this popular culture phenomenon.

  55. Muslimah says:

    Assalaam u alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh!

    A very nice article. A must read. I was always looking for this. I just stumbled upon it through Muslim matters.
    This article is equally essential for the parents living in Muslim countries. they think that the are living in Muslim countries everything is fine. But things have changed a lot.
    And, yes PEER pressure is the major challenge. Thay are good when they are at home but the friends they teach more than family and friends. I guess we should be equally bothered about the child’s friend as we our for ours.
    We really need EDUCATED and Practically Muslim Mothers.
    Jazakillaah khair!
    May Allaah bless you for your efforts. And MAke your children Sadqa-e-jaria for you!

    Pls remember us in your prayers!
    Assalaam u alaikum wa rahmatullaah!

  56. […] was the first time in years –after the Twilight series–that I asked my teen daughter not to read a book, and I explained to her my reasons, “If […]

  57. […] was the first time in years –after the Twilight series–that I asked my teen daughter notto read a book, and I explained to her my reasons, “If you […]

  58. Souso says:

    So as a teenager who loves to read, I have a hard time choosing appropriate books. Would you say that reading ‘Pride and Prejudice’ would be okay? Or is there any harm in reading the books? And lastly, do you have any good book tips, preferably fiction.

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