Wattpad has a reputation as the fanfiction site. A cringe factory. A site for fourteen-year-old girls to write out their Mary Sue travesties.
Listen, there is nothing wrong with fanfiction and there’s nothing wrong with young writers practicing by writing stories that appeal to their imaginations.
But there is more to wattpad than teens and bad fanfic (and if I’m being completely honest, I do kind of love the bad fanfic-where else can I find a Garfield/Ben Shapiro crossover fanfic? The bad fanfic is part of it, but I digress…) Wattpad is a huge site. It has people of all age groups (Yo! Wattpader in my 30s here!), people of all genders, ethnicities, and religions. There are communities for almost any interest you could think of. You like politics? There’s a community on wattpad. Liberal? Conservative? Doesn’t matter, there’s a community on wattpad. Like feminism? There’s a community on wattpad. Poetry? Jane Austen? Cooking? Traveling? You can really think of almost anything and I guarantee there is a community on wattpad for it.
There are enough people punching out the low-hanging fruit by covering the weird fanfiction hosted on wattpad. What I’d like to do is cover some of the communities that don’t get as much attention. And one such community is the Muslim apologetics community.
Apologetics is a non-fiction genre, wherein people explain or defend their faith. I first discovered the apologetics community through the Christian apologetics niche. I’m a Christian myself (albeit not the best example of one) and sometimes when I’m trying to be a little better, I read Christian apologetics. (On a side note, the best Christian apologetics book I’ve ever read is I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist.)
I have another post in the works about the Christian apologetics community, but for today I want to cover the Muslim apologetics community, which for some reason is a good deal smaller than its Christian counterpart. There are a lot of Muslims on wattpad. In fact, I think almost half of my friends on wattpad are Muslim. Wattpad is huge in India, so that could be why. Over the years that I’ve spent on wattpad, I’ve interacted with lots of Muslim readers and writers and from what I can tell, the most popular genre in the Muslim community (at least as far as books where Islam is a central tenet of the plot) appears to be romance. There is a LOT of Muslim romance on wattpad. So much so that I end up reading a lot of it. Hey, I love a good romance. If the plot and characters draw me in, that’s all I need. So with a good bulk of romance on wattpad being Muslim romance, yesh even as a non-Muslim, I’ve read my fair share of it.
But while Muslim romance takes up a huge bulk of romance on wattpad-to the point that it isn’t even really a subgenre-on wattpad Muslim romance IS romance (as it should be! Woke literary agents, when am I gonna see Muslim romance in the mass market paperbacks at the grocery store? Wattpad is kicking trad-pub’s ass in diversity), this isn’t the case for Muslim apologetics. It’s still a smaller, more niche community, woefully overshadowed by its Christian counterpart.
Small or not, the Muslim apologetics community is passionate, vibrant, and always willing to answer questions and engage in friendly dialogue.
Wattpad user velvet-red is one Muslim apologetics writer who took the time to speak with me and I’m so thrilled to spotlight her work!
The book of hers that I most enjoyed is Unapologetically Muslim, a book I read a while back and found really informative.
She also has a book of Quran verses. I think that’s so neat that she takes the time to share portions of the Quran with readers.
Without further ado, my mini-interview with Maryam, or as wattpad knows her, Velvet-red!
Hey there velvet-red!
I’m so excited you’ve agreed to let me interview you!
To get us started, can you introduce yourself to my readers and tell us a little about your writing?
My name is Maryam, I’m 21 years old and a Muslim. I’ve been a practicing Muslim all my life but only a few years ago did I become interested in studying more about my religion. And since I love to write, I thought, what better way to express what I learn and to teach others about it than through writing?
That’s so interesting that you starting studying Islam a few years ago. What prompted you to start studying your faith?
I love your wattpad writings on being a Muslim. I’m not a Muslim myself, so I’ve definitely learned a lot from your book. Before finding your book (and subsequently some of the other Muslim apologetics writers of wattpad) I read a lot in the Christian apologetics community.
What’s it like being a Muslim apologetics writer on wattpad? And do you interact a lot with the Christian apologetics community? If so, what has that dialogue been like?
What are the some of the things you’d love to teach others about Islam?
What prompted me to start studying my faith: The fact that many people either know close to nothing about Islam or have so many misconceptions about it. As a Muslim it hurts to hear so many people say such wrong and terrible things about your faith. I didn’t want to sit around and do nothing about it, so I decided to do more research and learn more about the true teachings of my religion so that I can teach it to others. I wanted to use writing as a platform to teach because it’s something that I feel I’m good at and have always enjoyed.
What’s it like being a Muslim apologetics writer on Wattpad: Hmmm it’s definitely been an interesting experience. Some days I log in to find myself flooded with notifications that people have commented on my works, but other days I get absolutely nothing xD So I wouldn’t say it’s much different from being an amateur story writer on Wattpad haha
Do I interact a lot with the Christians apologetics community? Yes! I have, as well as many politically conservative people as well. While some conversations have definitely been quite heated, I would say I learned a lot from interacting with these communities. I think the conversations I’ve had with them over the years have made me a bit more open-minded and mature than from when I first started writing about Islam back in 2017.
What are some of the things I’d like to teach others about Islam? The fact that Islam gave women so many rights, and there are many examples of it throughout the Quran and sunnah, and how it prohibits wrongdoing and oppression and commands us to act just towards people, no matter what their religion, class, nationality, or gender is, just to name a few things.
And something else I’d like to add is that I was thinking of deleting my wattpad account soon and publishing my works on my own blog instead. It’s currently in the process, but if anyone is interested in checking it out I’ll make an announcement on my profile and post the link to it there!
That’s it for my mini-interview with Maryam, but you can check out her wattpad profile and keep up with her goings-on here. (Also, I’ll definitely be following that blog when she gets it up and running :P).
What can you expect if you take a deep dive into the Muslim apologetics community? Well, I found it to be an incredibly welcoming community. One thing that really stands out to me about the Muslim apologetics community is that they really want to share their faith. Every time I’ve asked a question, it’s been enthusiastically answered. Each time I’ve left a comment or question on a book about Islam, I’ve gotten friendly Muslims in my inbox sharing resources and offering to answer questions. Of course, it’s nobody’s job to educate me. I’ll beat the woke folks to the punch. But when a community is consistently and enthusiastically going out of their way to share their religion, simply because they love their religion so much that they want to make it accessible to others; yeah, I’m going to give them some credit.
The wattpad Muslim apologetics community is very cool. They make people feel comfortable asking questions (other communities on wattpad will write a book on a subject and then bite your head off if you ask them anything in the comments *cough* wattpad LGBTQ+ community!-for real, forget it. I don’t even want to understand what demisexual or aromantic are anymore. Google confused the hell out of me with conflicting definitions and then y’all yelled at me for asking. Y’all don’t want to be understood. You want people to misunderstand so you can cry victimhood over it.) Unlike other identity-based communities, the Muslim apologetics community isn’t in constant victim mode, looking to attack outsiders. It’s easy to form connections within their community and it’s easy to wear your heart on your sleeve, admit you don’t understand something, or ask for clarification. They’re just welcoming. It’s a niche community with this warm and inclusive vibe that I’m really digging.
Here are a few other profiles to check out if you are interested in Muslim apologetics:
Project Beyond Islam: “A campaign to spread the true message of Islam”
Project Muslims United: “To strengthen the Muslim’s faith. To clear non-Muslims’ misconceptions about Islam. To prove that Islam is true.”
Binthabee: “Be princesses of Islam. Be a veiled inspiration.”
Watt Muslim Community: “May the peace, mercy, and blessings of Allah be with you.”
Muhammed Abdullah Attari Qadri: “Refuting Misleading elements on wattpad and clearing misconceptions about Islam.”
But wattpad isn’t the only community with a reputation for being steeped in fanfiction and silliness that has a thriving spiritual community. Just like on wattpad, Tumblr is also home to all sorts of different communities and Muslim apologetics is one of those unexpected communities.
Islamic Reminders is just one of the many Tumblr blogs that I found in the Muslim apologetics niche.
I had a chance to talk with the Muslim blogger, wattpad and Tumblr writer known as Granny from the Planet of Vibes. She gave me a mini-interview and shared a lot of great resources for anyone who wants to learn more about Islam.
Without further ado, let’s end this deep dive with a mini-interview from GF_POV.
What can you tell us about the Muslim community on wattpad? Any Islamic books you’d recommend?
I don’t know anyone of the Muslim community from Wattpad. I’m more active in Tumblr’s Muslim community. I’d say Tumblr’s pretty educational for me to learn more about my religion. There are many blogs dedicated just for Islam, who posts stuff related to the Quran and the Sunnahs (Hadiths, words of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)).
There’s also a Q&A website called https://islamqa.info/en where they provide necessary information regarding Islam. So far, this is the most accurate website for the Salafi school of thought.
For books, I’d just stick to the basics. Read the translation of the Quran. I’d suggest The Qur’an: A New Translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem” (Oxford World Classics). For the interpretation and explanation of the Quran, Tafsirs are a huge helping hand. For learning Tafsirs, one can use the app called “QuranHive”. If you are curious you can check out the Quranic studies lectures of Nouman Ali Khan (YouTube- Bayyinah Institute). Highly recommended!
I read Islamic books, but mostly they are translated into my native language, so I apologize for not being able to provide that many examples.
Here are a few English texts:
Reclaim Your Heart– Yasmin Mogahed
Purification of the Heart– Hamza Yusuf
Psychology from the Islamic Perspective– Aisha Utz
Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum (The Sealed Nectar): Biography of the Prophet (PBUH)- Safiur Rahman Mubarakpuri, Issam Diab (Translator)
Purification of the Soul: Concept, Process, and Means- Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo
What are some misconceptions about Islam that Muslim apologetics writers might correct?
There are many misconceptions actually. Firstly we love our religion. To us, it’s not just religion, it’s our lifestyle. Media portrayals of Islam are pretty much contaminated.
Firstly, we’re not imposed as it seems to the outsiders. We are always given choices. For example, the matter of hijab of women. It’s not like those who wear hijabs are forced into it. We love our apparel. It’s part of our identity. There are some conservatives who might force their family into doing something against their will, but that’s not right according to Islam.
Also, hijab isn’t just for women only. Men have their obligations regarding it as well. They have their own hijab to maintain. Strangely, nobody mentions it for some reason.
Let me give you a verse from the Quran: “Tell the believing men to cast down their looks and guard their private parts; that is purer for them; surely Allah is aware of what they do. And tell the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof….” (24:30-31)
So, it’s not just about females only. Men have certain duties and responsibilities as a Muslim. And it’s divided equally. The reason people think that the rights of men and women aren’t equal in Islam is because of the miseducation and misinterpretation. They usually don’t understand the context of the Quran and the Sunnah when reading and applying. Our rights are equal. Nothing is unjust in Islam.
The more one studies, the clearer it gets. And Islam is definitely not about terrorism. Islam is all about peace.
A few more common misconceptions (not only among non-Muslims, but also Muslims) are some of the controversial ones: listening to instrumental music (drums and percussions, acapellas are allowed), free-mixing (we are supposed to maintain a professional distance with the opposite sex), homosexuality (bisexuality, pansexuality, etc), these aren’t allowed in our religion. Many seemed to have forgotten that.
Here’s a Hadith (Bukhari 5590): Narrated Abu ‘Amir or Abu Malik Al-Ash’ari: that he heard the Prophet (ﷺ) saying, “From among my followers there will be some people who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk, the drinking of alcoholic drinks and the use of musical instruments, as lawful. And there will be some people who will stay near the side of a mountain and in the evening their shepherd will come to them with their sheep and ask them for something, but they will say to him, ‘Return to us tomorrow.’ Allah will destroy them during the night and will let the mountain fall on them, and He will transform the rest of them into monkeys and pigs and they will remain so till the Day of Resurrection.” https://islamqa.info/en/answers/10050/why-does-islam-forbid-lesbianism-and-homosexuality
Islam doesn’t promote homophobia, transphobia, etc. Us Muslims have nothing against the LGBTQ community. But it’s a lie when someone says that these are allowed in our religion. Having feelings towards the same gender is a normal situation, but Islam forbade us to act according to those feelings.
I’ve seen other Muslims say that Islam has done a great deal for women’s rights. Can you tell me a little about the rights and freedoms that Islam grants women?
It’s a common notion that says Muslim women are oppressed. But the oppression comes from the laws twisted by some of the Muslims, purely for their personal gains (I’m still calling them Muslims even though what they did was wrong because we’re not to judge others. We are not the judge, jury, executioner. That’s our Lord, Allah. He gets to decide everyone’s deeds. Even as a sinner a Muslim is still a Muslim, as long as they have faith.). -We are given freedom in choosing our profession as much as men. Freedom in the workplace, residence selection, and seeking knowledge is our rights. Women can travel and acquire knowledge and so on as long as we maintain our hijab. We can even live alone as long as there’s no chance of committing certain sins (subject to the condition that she is trustworthy). If women are to travel somewhere far, they need to keep mahrams with them (husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons).
Hadith: Muslim (1339) narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “It is not permissible for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to travel the distance of one day, except with a mahram.”
-Women have freedom in proprietorship, they may gain profit from it and none has the right to appropriate their possessions without their consent.
-Like men, women have freedom in choosing their spouses. No one has the right to force marriage upon them.
Here are some quotes from Imam Sadiq (‘a): “Women must be asked permission for their marriage, virgin or otherwise, and marriage is not correct without the woman’s behest.” (Wasa’il ush-Shi‘ah, vol. 20, p. 284.) (Concerning a man who wanted to marry off his sister) (Ibid, p. 274) “She has more authority over herself than any other person. If she has had a previous marriage, she can choose her desired spouse for remarriage if he is good for her.” (Ibid, vol. 2, p. 269.) “There is no problem with a non-virgin (previously married) woman getting married without the consent of her father if she has no defects.” (Ibid, p. 272)
However, in the case of virgins, they need permission from their father or grandfather. But of course, there has to be a mutual agreement. “A virgin woman who has a father must not marry without her father’s consent.” (Ibid, p. 270.)
“However, it must be stated that there are two exceptions to this rule: First when the woman’s father or grandfather is not available for obtaining permission. Second, when it is time for the woman to marry and she has a fitting suitor but her father brings undue excuses and refuses everyone. In these two cases, religious jurisprudence can give the woman permission to marry a desired and worthy suitor in place of her father’s permission (Amini).”
-Any sort of abuse is strictly prohibited, whether from spouse or parents or any relatives or anyone in general. Allah enjoins in the Quran: “And consort with your wives in kindness.” (Surah Nisa’ 4:19.)
Further references: https://www.islamicinsights.com/religion/the-hijab-of-men.html
That’s it for my interview with Granny! She has provided us with a lot of wonderful resources (of which, I’ve spent the better part of my day devouring!)
This deep dive into the Muslim apologetics community has been a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Islam and the Muslim members of the writing community.
So, I am not Muslim, and I’m not nearly as socially-conservative as those who follow the Islamic faith’s teachings.
People tend to assume that I interview people or highlight their work because I agree with them. That’s usually not the case. I tend to be most interested in people who are different than me.
I see so many people on Twitter saying things like, “There is no finding a middle ground between liberals and conservatives, because this is based on the fiction that ideas have no real-world consequences!”
Well….no….people know that ideas have consequences. Thing is, we also see that these liberal-conservative divides are not consistent. If you refuse to speak to a Republican because they are socially conservative (or you assume they are) then it isn’t ideologically consistent to support Islam. But I’m not saying denounce Islam. I’m saying stop denouncing anybody simply because they have different values!
Because the divides thrown up between different groups aren’t about moral high-ground. The narrative is just far too terribly inconsistent for that to be the case.
But, come on, what kind of world is that? You really don’t want to talk to anyone who holds different beliefs than you? What about diversity?
But I don’t just mean diversity of skin color. That’s so surface-level.
I mean diversity of ideas.
I want to hear all of the different ideas. Shutting people out because they hold different ideas doesn’t change their ideas. I’m also always open to possibility that I’m wrong. That I could learn something from other people.
I want to explore the communities that I’m not a part of and learn what makes them tick, what makes them special, what they value.
I had a wonderful time learning more about the Muslim apologetics communities of Wattpad and Tumblr.
I challenge you to go find a community that you aren’t familiar with and get to know them.
Our differences are what make the world so vibrant.