H W J N, a Saudi sci-fi novel removed from shelves for blasphemy (Photo credit: indexoncensorship.org)

H W J N, a Saudi sci-fi novel removed from shelves for blasphemy (Photo credit: indexoncensorship.org)

On November 26th, the Saudi religious police removed one of the country’s top-selling books from some book stores.

H W J N [pronounced Hawjan] is a science-fiction romance novel that depicts a story of a jinn [genie], Hawjan, falling in love with a human, Sawsan, and the obstacles their relationship faces.

Here is the official trailer of the novel in English.

According to the Index on Censorship, representatives from the Saudi Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice “raided several bookshops selling the novel H W J N … demanding it be taken off the shelves.”

The novel’s supposed blasphemous and devil-worshiping content was the claimed reason for the removal.

According to Islam, Allah created the jinn as beings with free-will who live in a world parallel to human society. Like humans, jinn can be good, bad and ugly and although they are invisible to humans, contact between the two worlds sometimes occurs.

With this belief system in mind, HWJN’s author, Ibraheem Abbas, along with a large number of his fans, took to Twitter in a campaign to denounce the attacks against his book.

In a statement released on the social media portal, Abbas expressed his disappointment with the accusations and fabrications directed at him by “those who did not bother to read the novel.”

He argued that the novel addresses practices that are rampant in Muslim societies, including magic and sorcery, while the jinns’ realm is described in his book accord with the precepts found in Islamic scripture.

In one tweet, Abbas explained that his choice to have a Ouija board in the novel was to demonstrate that the device works because of the ideomotor effect (an automatic unconscious muscular movement evoked by thoughts rather than sensory stimulus) and that the board game choice was not meant to advocate witchcraft.

Abbas also tweeted about contacting the witchcraft division of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice to present the agency with signed copies of his novel to clear up any misunderstanding surrounding it.

The Saudi religious authority has not officially banned H W J N and the novel is still available in a number of book stores across the country.

Meanwhile, Abbas, who is a co-founder of Yatakhayaloon ["they imagine" in Arabic], The League of Arabic Sci-Fiers, plans on suing those who have accused him of blasphemy for slander, libel, and defamation of character.