The Ranting Kraut

19.3.2006 – 27.9.2010

The Jewel of Medina – much ado about nothing

Posted by rantingkraut on November 10, 2008

Sherry Jones’ novel The Jewel of Medina has attracted plenty of attention prior to publication, mainly due to the self censorship of the original publisher and an actual fire bomb attack on its successor. (The Pub Philosopher has chronicled these events.) Generally speaking, if somebody tries to censor a book, I normally want to read it; but in this case, I need not have bothered.

Denise Spellberg argued the book was soft core pornography. She is wrong. If you want that, stick to Anaïs Nin. Ayaan Hirsi Ali thought the book was pro Islam and pro Muhammad. She got it exactly right. The author professes her respect for Islam in the book and on her website. In the novel, she bends over backward to make Muhammad seem as benevolent and as just and peaceful as he can manage to be. Beyond this, the book is a bit dull, a bit corny in places and mainly dedicated to Aisha’s worries over how much Mohammad loves her as opposed to his other wives. This novel is anything but critical of, let alone offensive to, Islam.

If there is a well founded reason for a political interest in The Jewel of Medina, Hirsi Ali has summarised it well: “Where Ms. Jones succeeds, however — and, it seems, unwittingly — is to show the problem Islam perpetually has with fiction. It is not enough to be positive about the prophet Muhammad, (peace be upon him), i.e. to stick to the Islamic account of events surrounding the prophet’s life. It is not enough to express oneself in the same tone of deference that Muslims do when talking or writing about their religion.

What it confirms is that Muslims believe that Muslims and infidels both must place Islam’s main characters out of bounds for fiction, for literature in general, and for cinema…” (source)

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