Short Answer: Psychology research has shown how romance novels are bad for women’s health and psyche as they give unrealistic expectations that don’t give women the true picture of relationships. There are plenty of data on this subject. So, this issue is not even beneficial for your health and psyche from a scientific stand point.
Salam alaykum Dear Sister,
Thank you for your question.
The first observation I had is how much the effect of the “reproaching soul” (an-Nafas al-Lawama) can be sensed in your message.
We know that Allah Almighty placed in us this ‘alarm’ that warns us when we’re doing something wrong.
The purpose is to redirect us to the right path and prevent us from delving in the wrong.
As Allah says in the Quran:
“I swear by the Day of Resurrection. And I swear by the reproaching soul [to the certainty of resurrection].” (Quran 75: 1-2)
The Day of Resurrection is when we will see the outcome of our decisions and choices in this life.
So Allah reminds us of that Day, and then reminds us of the reproaching soul He instilled in us to help us make the right choices; i.e. stay away from the wrong and choose what’s better.
The Effect of Wrong Choices
It was striking to see how many times you mentioned that you know delving in romance novels is wrong.
You kept repeating it:” I know that it’s haram to encourage such acts”,” I don’t do anything of that in real life (romance) I don’t do these wrong deeds”; I know full well how wrong it is”.
It seemed your conscience is alarming you, and this is perfectly explained in the following hadith.
An-Nawwas bin Sam’an (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:
‘I asked the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings upon him) about virtue and sin and he replied, “The essence of virtue is (manifested in) good morals (Akhlaq) whereas sinful conduct is that which turns in your heart (making you feel uncomfortable) and you dislike that it would be disclosed to other people.” [Sahih Muslim]
This is exactly what you explained.
So if something is terribly alarming, the best thing is to leave it.
Imagine if you’re in a building and you hear the fire alarm. Despite hearing it and knowing that there is some sort of danger, you insist on staying in the building.
Would that be the right decision?
Of course it isn’t.
Is Romance Prohibited?
Romance itself is not prohibited.
On the contrary, love, romance and affection are highly encouraged between husbands and wives.
We know from the Seerah how affectionate the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) was with his wives.
Men are commanded to follow in his footsteps in showing love and affection towards their wives whether in their marital intercourse or the marital relationship as a whole.
There are plenty of hadiths and resources in our tradition on that.
In a beautiful hadith, the Prophet was asked: ‘O Messenger of Allah, which of the people is most beloved to you?’ He said: “Aishah.’ [Sunan Ibn Majah]
Showing affection to one’s spouse in an elegant halal manner is Sunnah.
The problem is when one is not married or about to get married yet is constantly reading things that provoke certain feelings he/she can’t fulfill in a halal way; and on top of that often written by dubious people who’re not necessarily concerned about one’s spiritual success in this life and the next.
So romance needs to be a blessing put in its right time and place, not a sinful desire swallowing up a major part of one’s time and life aimlessly.
It would be understandable if you’re reading about how to show affection to your husband in order to boost your relationship (granted that it’s something written/said by trustworthy individuals/people of knowledge).
But if you’re not in a relationship or about to get into one, yet you’re constantly bombarding your heart and mind with feelings/ideas/imageries/fantasies that are unlawful and there isn’t a lawful way for you to fulfill them, then how is this helpful for you spiritually, emotionally or physically?
As a matter of fact, it is actually harmful.
Research Shows Romance Novels Are Bad for Women’s Health
Psychology research has shown how romance novels are bad for women’s health and psyche as they give unrealistic expectations that don’t give women the true picture of relationships.
There are plenty of data on this subject. So, this issue is not even beneficial for your health and psyche from a scientific stand point.
So, think about it: would you eat something unhealthy from a dubious place regularly?
Of course not; that would be hazardous to your physical health.
Then why consume unhealthy materials from dubious sources even though your spiritual health is of even greater value…
Regret Over Wasted Time in Life
Perhaps the most problematic aspect in your message is saying: “I have a lot of free time.”
This is what we need to work on and resolve.
Free time is the devil’s playground.
Shaitan (Satan) either wants you to fall into sin, or at least waste time in that which isn’t right.
Abu Barzah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings upon him) said:
“Man’s feet will not move on the Day of Resurrection before he is asked about his life, how did he consume it, his knowledge, what did he do with it, his wealth, how did he earn it and how did he dispose of it, and about his body, how did he wear it out.” [At-Tirmidhi]
We will be asked about our time and our youth and how we spent them.
Imagine all this time spent in reading or writing things that you know won’t be shared with anyone because they’re wrong, all of this wasted time could’ve been invested in something much better that benefits you in this life and the next.
1- First and foremost, make dua sincerely and earnestly that Allah helps you make the best use of your time, and not make you among those who regret wasting their time in vain on the Day of Judgment.
2- Start reading about the purpose of life in Islam. If we know the purpose of life, we won’t have that much free time on our hands. We will be looking for more time to accomplish what we were created for.
3- Start seeking sacred knowledge adequately as it will fill and organize your time adequately; study ‘aqeeda, fiqh, seerah, tafseer and the sciences of the religion.
4- Craving romance novels the way you described it could be a lustful desire (shahwa) which is one of the diseases of the heart. So read a book about the Purification of the Heart it will really open your heart and mind to amazing truths. You can also read “Reclaim Your Heart” By Yasmin Mogahed, and “Revive Your Heart” by Nouman Ali Khan.
5- Definitely get a book about the Names and Attributes of Allah. You will be amazed when you finish reading this. It’ll put your life on track.
6- Join one of Sister Haleh Banani‘s online courses on love and relationships from an Islamic perspective to equip you to be the best wife and partner you can actually be instead of living in the fantasy of a fictional character in a novel.
7- Actively give dawah. Learn your deen and invite people to the path of Allah; this is a duty upon all Muslims.
It is out of love and compassion that we share The Truth with others so that they get near their Most Loving Creator in this life and for eternity.
Hope this helps.
Salam. Please stay in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
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