Is Reading Novels Prohibited?
Social Issues
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

Does reading novels come under ‘lahw al-hadīth’ – which is condemned by the Qur’ān? Does it become the cause of any benefit in this world or in the Day of Judgement? If it does not, then it should be considered as absurd?


Islam does not pose any restriction on the pursual of fine arts. Reading novels, drawing pictures, making models/sculptures are all subtle forms of expression that nourish creativity in a person, and are also a means of providing constructive entertainment. This of course is greatly beneficial for a person and therefore such activities cannot be considered absurd in any way.

Islam imposes only two restrictions on such activities:

1. Over-indulgence should be avoided. This means that one should be careful in devoting one’s time to such activities. Involvement which diverts a person’s attention from God and from the responsibilities that God has imposed upon a person should be avoided.

2. Immorality should be abstained from wherever found in these activities since this adversely affects the inner purity of a person. Inner purity, we know, is the objective of Islam.

The expression you have referred to with regard to occurs in the following a Qur’ānic verse:

وَمِنْ النَّاسِ مَنْ يَشْتَرِي لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ لِيُضِلَّ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَيَتَّخِذَهَا هُزُوًا أُولَئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُهِينٌ (١٣ :٦-٨)

There are some who indulge in frivolous talk (lahw al-hadīth) so that they may without knowledge lead men away from the path of God and hold it up to ridicule. For these there shall be a shameful punishment. (31:6-8)

It is evident from the context, that the expression ‘lahw al-hadīth’ means all those things said by the disbelievers to lead people away from the Qur’ān because the expression is used in contrast to the verses of the Qur’ān.

Reading novels, therefore, does not come under ‘lahw al-hadīth’.

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