Islamic Children's Literature: Informal Religious Education in Diaspora
Filosofi, etik och religion
Islamic children’s literature · Picture books · Da‘wah · Diaspora · Religious pedagogy
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AbstractThis chapter explores the brand of Islamic children’s literature produced in diaspora, in order to discern how this supplementary educational tool has responded to key concerns of Islamic education. How is Islamic faith staged in diasporic literary depiction? What innovative formats are employed and how does such innovation affect the content? Rather than understanding this literature in terms of mere adaptations of novel formats, Islamic children’s literature is explored as a mode for cultural negotiation in and of itself. It ambiguously balances between a defensive-exclusive and offensive-inclusive cultural stance. On the one hand, and in its early phases, it has been formulated as a defense of religious principles in a sociocultural context defined as threatening, in face of which Islam is mobilized as a safety mechanism. In such aspects, Islamic children’s literature has essentially reproduced cautious and socio-conservative literary patterns in the Arab and/or Muslim world at large. On the other hand, the format as such subverts traditional forms of Islamic education and rote learning practices, in favor of a religious pedagogy through which Islamic creed and practice is highlighted as a rational and culturally flexible matrix for life. Currently, the literature is set in a process of rapid development. Core religious virtues are increasingly staged through vivid narrative and graphic representation, and in inclusive appropriation of Euro-American literary formats such as the detective story, the world of sports, the comic book, the fable, and fairy tale. Such innovative formats invite culturally inclusive depictions of diasporic existence, in an open and vulnerable exploration of what Muslim identity and Islamic faith may mean for a young mind. In the process, the borders are currently becoming less distinct between the brand of Islamic children’s (established since the 1970s) and an emergent literature depicting the lives of young Muslims with less explicit religious or ideological purposes.