9 Islamic Fatwas We Can Get Behind
Scroll down and read "#4. THOU SHALT NOT read romance novels." Keep in mind that Cracked is a humor site, so we can go to the source they cite and read the sheik's reasoning:
These stories take people from the real world and place them in a world of fantasy. In doing so, they give people an unrealistic concept of life as well as unrealistic expectations. These stories alienate the mind from practical concerns and impair the ability of people to cope with the real demands of society. Moreover, they are usually full of misguided ways and values. They often promote adultery, gambling, liquor and other types of immoral behavior.
I advise Muslims to avoid reading such stories. At the very least, these stories prevent those who read then from reading useful books or otherwise benefiting from their time.
Well, there you go. According to this sheik, romance novels promote fantasy at the expense of reality, immorality, and sloth.
This quote from Cracked is wonderfully purple writing:
It's not enough to satisfy your gal every single time out with a 15 to 120 minute routine, and an orgasm or two. No, according to her books with shirtless pirates on the cover, one thrust into her eager scabbard from your purple-headed warrior should be sufficient to induce several life-splattering orgasm within three seconds of penetration. Failure to do this means, of course, that you're not "the one" foretold by the romance novel; the one who would entice the feminine secretions from their velvety lair with unfailing intensity and volume.
Thus, millions of women feel like they are "settling." For their happiness and ours, let's end the madness by adopting this general boycott of romance novels, lest men everywhere wither in their fathomless impotence.
I might have to use some of that prose in my novel. :)
But, seriously, as to the point of the sheik's writing -- do romance novels promote unreachably high goals? Well, as a writer, I'm personally against suggesting that women can orgasm multiple times with penetration only, or that couples who are really in love always come at the same time. That's just my personal stance, that it's better to portray erotic and exciting, but mostly realistic, sex scenes.
As to dissatisfaction with the mundane side of marriage -- I don't agree. I think if you're satisfied with your mate that romance novels can only help. I know they put me in a good mood (if you know what I mean, and come on, you know what I mean) and make me happy that I, too, am in such a wonderful and lasting relationship. And, frankly, the other aspects of romance novels, such as pirates as mentioned above, I can do without in real life. I'd much rather read about people facing untold suffering and character building than go through it myself, thank you very much. I don't crave adventure, because I can just read about it!
I think it's grossly unfair to say that romance novels promote immorality. Adultery? Hardly! It's roundly condemned, since it goes against the core of the true-love philosophy. Gambling and liquor? Well, ok, if you're against those things entirely, which I'm going to assume our Muslim writer is, then many romance novels, particularly historicals, do portray such aspects of life. But they never endorse overindulgence. I will admit that premarital sex is very rarely taboo nowadays in romance novels, so there is that aspect of morality that many religions would frown upon.
But, at their heart, I think romance novels are very moral in that they promote healthy relationships over unhealthy. Lasting friendships, forgiveness, faithfulness to a spouse, justice against wrongdoing -- the list goes on. It's the same way that Christians like Dorothy Sayers could write murder mysteries -- the point of a murder mystery is that the murderer is caught, wrongdoing punished. It's the same with romance novels. They are, at heart, comedies, with the traditional U-shaped plot structure (as written about by Northrop Frye): happiness, struggle, ending with happiness and, as is frequent in other comedies because it's so symbolic of harmony, marriage.
I do like how Cracked calls attention to this quote:
It is only advisable for certain academics and concerned people to read such stories so they can be aware of what is out there.
Mm-hm. That's exactly why the sheik needs to read romance novels...um, for research.