This study analyzes Islamic children’s picture books that were originally produced as a means of religious socialization for Muslim communities in Britain but today are created for a global Islamic market. Particular attention is devoted to the visual norms of the books produced by one of the pioneering publishers of Islamic children’s literature, the Islamic Foundation. The books reveal creative processes of negotiation in their visual programs, which oscillate between the aesthetic standards of Euro-American picture-book traditions and Islamic artistic practices of visual representation. While the books produced during the formative period of the 1980s remained faithful to a strict interpretation of Sunni orthodox norms of representation that shied away from depicting animate beings, children’s literature published from the late 1990s onward has abandoned such pictorial restrictions. More recent figural representations are nevertheless balanced by more subtle ways of underscoring the particularly Islamic character of the picture books. Rather than bluntly imposing visual or theological norms, today’s illustrated children’s books promote religious socialization by relying on a careful selection of key narrative themes and visual symbols.
Imaging Islamic Identity: Negotiated Norms of Representation in British-Muslim Picture Books
Torsten Janson; Imaging Islamic Identity: Negotiated Norms of Representation in British-Muslim Picture Books. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 August 2012; 32 (2): 323–338. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201X-1628962
Download citation file: