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A friend and I have written and illustrated a children's story about a group of kid witches that includes a girl with a hijab. I have read that magic and witchcraft are taboo in Muslim faith, should we change the character to not wear a hijab? There is nothing denominational about the magic our witches practice, it is like cartoon fantasy magic. Would this still be seen as taboo? If any Muslim readers could weigh in we would definitely appreciate it! We would like to be inclusive by including a hijabi character but not if it goes against her faith.

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  • This is not so much a writing question than a question about religious conventions and regulations. You'll find better answers at islam.stackexchange.com.
    – Ben
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 8:50
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    I don't see why this is receiving close votes as "asking what to write". It very much isn't. OP isn't asking for ideas, they're asking whether an idea they already have would be considered offensive by certain readers, which is a perfectly valid, on-topic question. I won't deny that Islam.SE may be a better place for it, but that doesn't mean it should be closed here, especially not for spurious reasons.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 15:47
  • @F1Krazy I agree. This is as much on topic here as questions about copyright are. But like legal questions will usually receive mostly useless guesswork here and helpful answers from legal experts elsewhere, OP needs a qualified reply from the muslim community to enable them to decide how they want to proceed. Textual examples from ancient Sufi texts (such as EDL presents in their answer) aren't relevant for muslim mothers and fathers in Western countries when they decide to buy or not to buy a book for their children. Only those muslim parents can tell OP what they wouldn't buy.
    – Ben
    Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 17:33
  • I think, if the only thing about the character that makes her Muslim is that she wears a hijab, you aren't going deep enough into the character. If you aren't making the character Muslim for a reason (other to have one), then maybe she shouldn't be. I'm not trying to be negative here, I'm encouraging you to take your characters to another level. Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 19:37

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Islam in not a monolithic belief, and has many different branches: Sunni and Shia being the largest.

Magic is at least an allegorical element of Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam. The Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam evokes magic. It also talks about wine, women, and song. But, Islam forbids drinking wine and relations outside of marriage. While the Rubaiyat has been also called the Hedonist's Bible, Khayyam was writing metaphorically, using forbidden things as stand ins for the importance of embracing life and love. Similar his reference to magic is considered a stand-in for a spiritual journey.

Also, there are cultural elements to magic as it pertains to Islam. Arabs have traditions of Efreet, and Indian Muslims and South East Asian Muslims have traditions of Naga and Rakshasa.

In short, your story idea has a very rich and diverse cultural world to draw from, with regards to magic and observant characters.

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It would be offensive to include magic at all, and it would also be offensive to remove such a dress where it had been planned to exist before. In the most widely accepted interpretation amongst scholars of Islamic law, it is forbidden for any teenage or older male Muslim to look at strangers of the opposite sex if any part of the body besides the face and hands is shown.

My suggestion would be, as a Muslim, to somehow alter the story not to include magic, or write something else more down to earth if you plan to appeal to Muslim children as well. As for solving the problem with the illustrations, you could at least in future works either include male characters only, or not include illustrations at all, bypassing the issue.

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Try reading the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch. It’s an urban fantasy series featuring tons of magic and one of the main characters wears a hijab, is a police officer, and is more than just aware of magic, she can practice it. After 10 or so novels, 3 novellas, a book of short stories and maybe a dozen graphic novels the series is still going strong. Write what you want and the rest of world be damned.

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