10:00 AM

Show Face or Save Face?

Wrote: American Muslima Writer |

My Adventures in Tucson had a funny post about Authors and their faces on the backs of books.

For me I do not like their faces on the backs, whether large or small. But especially hate the large photos. I do like them on the inside of the book in the back. Yet sometimes they certainly surprise you how the author looks doesn't match with the image in your head. But with their faces on the back every time you shut the book you are taken a bit out of fantasy zone that half this book is an advertisement venue for the author. As I said in comment to Advn. in Tucson "It's kinda like watching a movie in the theater with the lights on." You can get into the movie plot but you keep getting distracted by the guy three rows down picking his nose then sticking his hand into the popcorn he shares with his friend. I.E. Reality Intervenes.
But it got me wondering, what about Muslim and Muslimah Authors? Do they put their pictures in their books? First point of course is some people believe photos are haram of people, lets not get into that. If that is your opinion ok. For those that view people pictures as ok think about this:
You just read a fabulous Science-Fiction book by made-up-author Lacy White. You reach the back after a satisfying ending and there is a color photo of a middle aged Muslimah white convert with a lovely green hijab that matches her eyes. She is smiling a beautiful yet modest writer's smile. What do you think of?
Firstly are you surprised that this Sci-Fi book which had nothing to do with Islam was authored by a Muslim?
Are you surprised she's a hijabi in the picture?
Do you think she is supporting the role that we Muslimahs can be great writers?
Or do you think her wearing hijab means she should NOT be putting her face all over the world and into the hands of non-mahram men?
Do you think she should not be smiling in case some weird man becomes attracted to her and starts stalking her?

What would Muslims and Non-Muslim's reactions be to a picture of just a black swathed niqabi picture for the Author Picture. Or even dare I say a fully burka swathed photo. Some might say the alter is pointless but is it? You know that this author is a burka wearing muslimah and come to some conclusions about her by her writing and what she is wearing, one thing is for sure though there is that shock by a non-muslim that what they read was written by THIS!

For current Muslim and Muslimah authors out there do you put your picture on your books? What do you write about yourself in the Author Descriptions? What do you feel about your fellow authors who choose to do the opposite from what you feel?

I had thought of this question a long time ago when I was first putting hijab. I thought when I authored a book, should I put my picture of me in hijab? Should I wear colored hijab? Should I smile? Should I let my eyes sparkle? Should I leave off the picture? Should I mention in the author description I'm a Muslim Convert. Especially with a name like mine writing Islamic Fiction it might be seen as odd and surely someone would want to know who the heck is this Brandy person doing talking about Islam. For non-Islamic Fiction would it be a turn off for readers to know you're Muslim? Would they stop buying your books? Some perhaps afraid of becoming brainwashed by your subtle words encouraging Islam (you know secret Islamic conspiracy messages).

What are your views on this issue?

9 intelligent thoughts:

Anonymous said...

Faith in Writing said...

I don't mind if there is a pic of tha author or not, but I think when I publish my book,as a non-Muslim, I don't want my picture on it. Just because I think it would be weird for people to go 'it's that girl who wrote that book!'. I'd like to stay anonymous as long as I can, lol.
As for Muslim women wearing hijab etc on books, I think you would put some very silly people off reading, even if the book wasn't about anything Islamic at all, but then again it may help people like that become a bit more enlightened, to think that Muslims can do more than write about Islam (shock horror!). I am reading a book by a Muslim woman at the moment and she has two photos on the back cover, one wearing a loose veil and one without, but then I don't think she is a fulltime hijabi.

Lazeena Umm Yusuf said...

wow mashaAllah, thought provoking post, I never really gave much thought to this!

Anonymous said...

I think putting up a pic of a hijabi author is a major step in the right direction. I'm not sure about the niqab though, it sorta defeats the purpose and comes across as too heavy. Actually, I think it's idiotic for a niqabi author to put up a pic of herself.

But hijab without the face veil is a good idea. It's definitely an effective step toward dawah. Just imagine how effective and impressive it would be, to both Muslims and non-Muslims, when one day it would be considered a familiar sight to see women in hijab on bestsellers.

It may even increase sales because people are usually far more curious than they are ignorant. A minor few may avoid reading a book authored by a hijabi, but a significant major would read it simply out of curiosity.

And us bookworms are a curious species. So satiate our curiosity...

Smile? There are plenty of ways one can pose for pics without smiling yet without coming across as too serious. Eyes sparkle? Nah. Color hijab, sure why not.

As for the ruling on pictures being haram, it's a weak opinion supported by sheikh's who lack in depth Shariah knowledge. [I know of an American Tariqa Sheikh in Jordan who has a staunch stance against it, but in all honesty and in light of the opinion of scholars with *real* Shariah knowledge, his "ruling" (which he isn't qualified to do) is absurd and destructive] [One of the signs of someone lacking in fiqh is that he imposes harsh minor opinions on others]


Bridget said...

I like your interesting spinoff on my post. :) In my opinion, the only thing that matters is that you don't put a huge mural of yourself on the back. I don't care what you look like, as long as you keep it inside the book on the rear jacket flap, and keep it small. :)

ModestJustice said...

This is what's always bothered me.
Would I, as an aspiring author, use my real first and last name (which oddly enough doesn't sound muslim at all) or use a pen name? And if I used a pen name why would I put a picture of myself? But if I didn't use a pen name and the book has nothing to do with Islam would I put a picture of my hijab-clad self on there? This is very thought-provoking.

I'd most likely stay anonymous and after I become a rich authoress with 5 houses and die with a multi-million dollar inheritance, then shall I reveal who I truly was! Hah.

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Nicole said...

I like to see the author's picture on the inside of the back cover. I think it is interesting, but it won't change what I think about the book.

I was thinking, if I ever get to that stage, to put a picture that doesn't show my full face, like a profile, or back shot or something from the distance. Kind of being there without anyone getting a full picture of you. We'll see what happens. I suppose the publisher might have something to say about that.

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