Over at the excellent site Islam and Science Fiction, M. Aurangzeb Ahmad interviews Najiyah Diana Helwani , author of Sophia’s Journal: Time Warp 1857 – a time travel coming of age novel set in Kansas right before the Civil War. Here’s an excerpt:
Aurangzeb: Do you think there is a general lack of interest in Science Fiction in the Muslim community?
Najiyah: I think there’s a general lack of knowledge about what SciFi even IS! And it’s so hard when we’re still battling some people who think fiction itself is haram or makruh. In many parts of the Muslim world, reading for pleasure and insight is just not part of the culture, and among Western readers there is a prevailing suspicion that Islamic fiction is substandard. So we have to raise awareness of the value of fiction itself and market well enough that readers begin to realize that we’re good writers as well as promote Islamic science fiction within the sci fi community.
Aurangzeb: Do you think that Muslims and Arabs type casted in Science Fiction stories in general?
Najiyah: It seems that in many cases the apocalyptic drama set as a battle between “Muslim Terrorists” and the sane world has replaced the exotic Eastern mystery of veiled women and sufis chanting in mosques. What bothers me is when people write stories or movies that perpetuate historical and/or theological fallacies. And when they represent the terrorists as mainstream Muslims.