Q&A: Islamic Publications Mistreating Writers

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Question:

Salaamalykum,

I am writing to vent my frustration at Muslim/Islamic publications & ask your advice for my future course of action. I don’t know why it is assumed that all writing for this genre/group has to be on ‘charity-basis’. I am a Muslim writer who wishes to make freelance writing as my full-time work, but unfortunately, it seems that if i want to benefit monetarily for my time & effort, it has to be from the secular sources. I love to write about Islam & Muslim relevant subjects because i find them fulfilling and a dawah-form, but somehow, to expect to be paid for them elicit remarks like, ‘don’t you want ajr for it?’

I had signed a freelance writer’s agreement form with a commercial muslims magazine. It stated that the writer will get a nominal compensation for published article and all rights to article will then belong to the magazine. The magazine would be free to offer the writer’s article for syndication and will share 50% of any fees generated.

I received payment (very nominal) for my first article published in that magazine. When it came time for the next payment for articles in the following issue, we (all writers) received mail stating that the magazine’s financial situation is critical to the extent that they had to borrow funds to pay the printers. They asked for understanding and patience from their writers. And stated that if someone is ‘desperately’ in need, then they will try paying him/her.

Its been a year since then and we have not heard of any payment possibility so far. We have continued to write for that publication & the magazine has continued to run. I’m frustrated and disappointed with this attitude. I don’t like the idea of writing to them to ask (beg?) for my rightful & due compensation because that would mean (according to them) that i am not ‘understanding’ or am ‘impatient’ or ‘desperately needy’. I’m non of those, but its been a year of writing for them and its fair to expect compensation for my time & effort.

What is worst is that i recently discovered that this publication has also been syndicating our articles to other websites. I as a writer have not been officially informed of that, nor have they mentioned my entitlement of a 50% breakup fee in case they made money out of it. This really had me frustrated as i had no control over my article for which i have not been paid for originally & they are syndicating it themselves. I don’t like to use that word, but i do feel exploited and Allah knows best.

If i bring these issues up with them, there is a high chance that our professional relationship will get negatively affected and i don’t want that to happen. I love that publication and would like to continue to be a part of it. But if i continue in this frustration, i fear losing my intended ajr.

Why can’t Islamic/Muslim publications respect the work of writers? What should i do?

Can you answer this question? Please post your advice below.


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Amel is an experienced freelance writer, editor, and Arabic to English translator. She started the Muslim Writers Club as a means of sharing useful information about the art (and business) of writing.
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